I finally managed to visit the BETT Show in London this weekend for the first time ever and it was definitely much better (and bigger) than I'd ever imagined.
Although it was a long day - my train down left Manchester at five-to-six in the morning - it was also an exciting day where I: managed to collect a fair few bits of information about products that I now want to investigate into further, met a lot of people from Twitter who I'd never seen before and even had the chance to present on one of the stands (you can view my presentation here).
BETT is a place where everyone is always on the go and I found people regularly bumping into me to say "hello" and to thank me for all the help I'd given them over the Internet which was extremely nice of them I thought.
Highlights from the day included:
- watching Bev Evans present on the Scholastic stand about Google Maps (including the use of StreetView imagery to aid in digital storytelling and the use of the ruler tool add-on to measure distances between places);
- meeting and chatting with the fab 2Simple Software team;
- getting free popcorn from the Film Club stand;
- being given a demo of Mash2Web by @2simpleant which looks like it'll be a great complement to Purple Mash enabling people to design their own mini websites and easily embed content into them (including images from your computer/webcam into a neat looking gallery);
- joining in with the audience participation during Mr Thorne Does Phonics' (I'm sure that's his real name now!) lesson to learn about misconceptions in primary phonics and inspiring ways to teach words containing particular phonic structures (which involved playing games of Connect-3 and Family Fortunes);
- getting a free pointy stick from the Smart stand (which strangely seemed to be hidden away and only available once they'd scanned your badge and you'd asked them for it politely).
As others had pointed out to me beforehand, it was important to walk everywhere and to look at the small stands hidden away upstairs in the gallery as well as the big stands downstairs in the main hall. Gems that I found which are worth highlighting are:
- I Can Animate (animation software for PC, Mac and iPhone that @markw29 pointed out to me a few weeks back and which I was impressed with when I had a little play with on their stand);
- BrainPop which provides short, high-quality cartoons explaining hundreds of concepts in a fun and engaging way for children;
- Focus Educational Software (the makers of the great Focus on Bee-Bot software);
- Ordnance Survey (whose fab Get-a-Map site with free online OS maps I'd forgotten about and which is neatly mashed-up alongside Google Maps aerial photography on this website here as pointed out by Dom Breadmore during a TeachMeet Takerover);
- Flitsi (a website for creating free online polls without the need to sign up - pointed out by @ianinsheffield)
- Guubes (a QR-style augmented reality application which I found highly intriguing).
Overall, I thought that BETT was a fantastic day out which made me realise the huge range of great ICT products which are available out there to help improve teaching and learning and once again reminded me of the value of listening to others' real classroom experiences to fully appreciate the potential uses of different programs (through the many teachers/pupils I saw 'working' on the stands and through events like TeachMeet Takeover).
I definitely want to go back again next year!