The Thing with VR

Just what was the dominant flavour at BETT? Tony Parkin savoured what was on offer

Every year there is a ‘thing’ at BETT. A couple of years ago it was 3D TV (this year seemingly, and mercifully, absent). Before that was the era of wall to wall whiteboards, still around at BETT 2017, but not in such oppressive numbers.

This year’s BETT 2017 ‘thing’ was VR, virtual reality. Every other stand seemed to have people shambling around with their faces buried in headsets, bumping into the furniture, uttering ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’, and generally challenging health and safety guidelines.  

j2e BETT Award

Sal McKeown finds some some favourites at the BETT Awards  

My abiding memory of the BETT Awards 2017 will be of Danny Young (pictured above), founder and managing director of j2e jumping up and down on the stage in ecstatic delight at winning the award for "ICT Tools for Learning, Teaching and Assessment – classroom aids".

We all like to see a happy winner and his enthusiasm was contagious. He even had hard-bitten host and award presenter Jenny Éclair grinning. (Full information about BETT Awards 2017.)

ClassVRs

VR is still disruptive for schools, but visitors to the BETT 2017 technology show will find an answer

Virtual reality technology is being targeted at classrooms as a way to enrich learning experience with walk-throughs of all kinds of scenarios. Even Google is flexing its marketing muscle with a free app and low-cost cardboard goggles (that require individual mobile phones) for its VR Google Expeditions.

But who in a school is going to manage it? Busy teachers? School edtech supplier Avantis is launching networked class sets of ClassVR headsets at the BETT 2017 educational technology to take the hassle out of this emerging technology

ISS screenshot BBC

Year 7 student Megan McTaggart dons her VR headset and enlists an expert at BETT 2017 

Virtual reality. What’s not to like about being able to feel as if you are actually in space? That is what having a VR headset strapped to your head and given two hand controls and left to navigate around a space station feels like. It felt real and, also a little bit scary.

For a short time on the Dell stand at the BETT 2017 show, I felt cool. This is very different to the laptops we sometimes get to use in our secondary school in north London.

Drone

Why tie learning to outmoded industrial models when current trends demand mash-ups?

Subject areas created for the needs of industry generations ago have become silos, we're told. So isn't it time to see learning as a 'mashup', where students use the subjects they need together for their required purpose - just like industry does for the 'fourth industrial revolution'?

Tune in to Education Fast Forward 18 (EFF18) live at 9am GMT on Monday (January 23) to join the OECD's PISA expert Andreas Schleicher and his panel guests debate this topic, "Preparing kids to succeed in the fourth industrial revolution", in front of world education leaders at the Education World Forum (EWF) in London.