Vernon CoakerVernon CoakerUnder-secretary for schools Diana Johnson MP will join Becta leaders on the first day of the BETT 2010 educational technology show in Olympia, London (January 13), for a full half-day of briefings from 12pm to mark the launch of the home Access Programme.

BETT 2010 will be opened by schools minister Vernon Coaker MP at 11.30 in a keynote presentation in the Apex Room at Olympia. This will be followed by the BESA "Breaking the Bonds of Learning" keynote (supported by in which Professors Stephen Heppell and Angela McFarlane, learning expert Tim Rylands and 2Simple's Max Wainewright will give their wishlists for ublocking progress to 21st century learning. Mobile phone interactivity for the audience will be provided by Steve Sidaway and the Txttools service which is also being used at the Learning and Technology World Forum earlier in the week.

At the heart of the learning at any BETT show you will find the Heppell family, encouraging creativity and discovery. At BETT 2010, Stephen Heppell's Playful Learning feature has even stimulated Google to make its BETT debut - as a platinum sponsor. Here he explains why Playful Learning isn't just a prediction.

Professor Stephen HeppellStephen Heppell: 'send your scouts'"Education hasn't had a very good track record with innovative technologies. Mostly we ban things, then, if they don't appear to have gone away, we appropriate them.

Mapyx's Quo2: it's freeMapyx's Quo2: it's freeBy Chris Drage
With the ability to mark and save routes, tracks and waypoints, check its length, the completion time and even look at the profile of the gradients along the route, there are no unexpected dead ends or village-pond duckings with digital mapping software.

Instead they bring a new dimension to geography lessons and topics, including mapping skills, settlement, tourism, topography, coasts and land use. No other software can give you a proper Ordnance Survey (OS) map on your computer screen or mobile device and allow you to draw routes, highlight places and make notes without ruining the original.

GPS image WikimediaGPS: honey I shrunk the worldBy Chris Drage
First, let’s get one thing straight. There is no such thing as the perfect GPS receiver. It’s all about what you are going to use it for, how and where. After that, it is about choosing the system that suits your purposes, offers the best compromise of device, mapping and usefulness.

But the selection process can be quite daunting. There are so many GPS units available, from established suppliers such as Garmin to new companies like SatMap Systems, that it is almost as difficult as choosing the right computer system for school.

Chris Drage introduces a new world with digital dimensions
screen wikimedia geographyThese days most people navigate between A and B using Google Maps or, if the journey is by road, an in-car satellite navigation system. As soon as you step off the beaten path however, you quickly discover the limitations of both, especially if you ‘zoom-in’ anywhere other than one of the main urban centres.

So it begs the question of why bother with digital maps when the paper versions, with their wealth of information on footpaths, bridle paths and the topology of a region, provided by Ordnance Survey, has served us so well for more than a century?