Mozart Dee

Who needs a juggernaut edtech show when you can have ‘human scale’ local events?

Regional edtech events have many advantages over the behemoths like London’s BETT show at ExCeL, not least of which are human scale, rich networking, easy access and atmospheric locations.

These are all true of the Animate 2 Educate "Tech on the Tyne Conference" on Friday June 9 at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead. It’s also imaginative. Flying in from Los Angeles will be 16-year-old speaker Mozart Dee, who bridges cultures, generations and learning (she was home educated).

'Changes' app team

Tony Parkin reports back from the UK's own digital creativity 'Oscars', Apps for Good 

The Apps for Good Annual Launch is always a wonderfully joyous occasion. Removed from the nerve-wracking ‘will we or won’t we’ tension of the midsummer competition finals, this event is an entirely celebratory affair, at which the winning schools get to show off the apps created as a result of their efforts.

And this year marked yet another stage in the maturity of this always-impressive organisation, as the acclaimed Changes app takes it into puberty. 

Hands up

Schools tied to annual budgets struggle to keep up with technology purchasing so edtech advisers are stepping in

Independent advice for ICT procurement is now available through two free online portals for schools worried about falling behind with with their ICT. They help schools deal with the complexities of contracts and tendering and can point them straight to 'approved' suppliers where tendering is not necessary.

“Nine out of 10 schools do not have a three-year edtech strategy because they work on annual budget cycles," said Neil Watkins, managing director of procurement framework organisation Think IT which is collaborating with industry body Naace to create the development. "This means they make poor or reactive buying decisions.

Ross Lowe at BETT

Student Ross Lowe, 16, on how he created his own 'Maker's Kit' for the micro:bit, inspired by BETT  

Another year, another BETT show. This was my fifth. The familiar purple carpets and crowded stands reminded me of the first time I went, with my school, five years ago.

For me, BETT 2017 was the most exciting yet as it was the first BETT after the BBC micro:bit became publicly available, and I was looking forward to meeting with teachers that were using it and seeing all the brilliant advancements made in the months between launch and BETT. And, of course, the add-ons, including my very own, the Maker's Kit for the micro-bit.

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.