Born with a plastic spoon in his mouth, Who fan Dan Bowen uses a record review format to share his thoughts on missing BETT 2014
What will I miss from BETT 2014? Well it might help to view things through the prism of my m... m... m... my generation, and what better format than albums by The Who?
My Generation: So this is only the first time I have missed BETT during my time as a teacher, adviser and exhibitor. I have recently moved to Australia, along with my family, to see what educational technology might be like 'down under'.
I do not feel I am missing BETT at the minute as I am still being bombarded with emails from the BETT 'PR machine'. I must note however that I never read these emails, they are top quality SPAM. They remind me of a very tacky tabloid with two good articles dispersed with articles written by folk who also are exhibiting at BETT so I won't miss these mailshots mainly because I still get them!
Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere: The latest trends can be flagged up at BETT. To be fair though this has not been the case over the last few years. Last year I found four companies that I thought would interest schools in a big way. The last big thing at BETT was Mr Gove giving ICT the chop and since then we have seen a sea change in the curriculum. In terms of hardware BETT is no longer an indicator of trends; however, it does provide a good springboard to have an informed discussion about technology.
Still no learning platform in UK to handle 'real MIS integration'
Magic Bus: The software. As a victim of broken promises, meandering road maps and bloody good bull**** I will not miss software vendors. We still do not have a learning platform in the UK that can do the real MIS integration that a modern secondary school needs. Assessment, attendance, learning, timetables and integration with other services still remain an uphill struggle for most schools who use a host of tools to currently do this. There are often some amazing free resources and tools available but in the age of the internet and 'FREE' software then I wonder if CD-based and installable content may be a thing of the past? So will I miss the software? Not really as I will probably just download it all.
NAACE's Self-review Framework) will be able to identify some really good deals and vendors who can supply hardware and services to support with this. The smaller managed services seem to be a good option for primaries and some secondaries and I am sure there will be a few on show at BETT touting end-to-end solutions for schools. I will miss the hardware but in a perverse sort of way. The last thing that caught my attention was the short-throw projector; however hardware is often shown out of context and I have seen many an empirical network manager buying ten of the latest bits of hardware without caring a jot about impact in the classroom. So will I miss the hardware? Probably, as I will miss walking around like a shorter, more Welsh, Duncan Banatyne surveying the products that will work in schools and those will have no chance.Pinball Wizard: With the exit of RM from the hardware market and the advances in virtualisation I expect the schools with good strategy (hopefully based on
Happy Jack: In recent years the focus on CPD has been good. The likes of Adobe, Apple resellers and other providers have been quick at putting together some really good CPD. I would argue that these are never really in sufficient depth to help with the key areas such as how to deploy apps across a school network. As much as I know and love all the UK-based Apple Distinguished Educators I know in practice that a lot of the practical sessions are not that easy when you have 30 students and poorly synchronised devices! One of the CPD sessions I will miss in 2014 will be the CPD curated by Tony Parkin on the Stone Stand (see "Having a Ball again with Stone at BETT 2014").
The BETT TeachMeet goes down in folklore for fellow teachmeeters
I Can See For Miles: Over the past five years the 'unconference' movement led by the trailblazers such as MirandaNet have been sublime. Even 15 minutes listening to real practitioners from around the world is worth its weight in gold. Not to mention the BETT TeachMeet which goes down in folklore for fellow teachmeeters. I was lucky enough to help organise it last year and I will miss the people involved in this tremendously.
Won't Get Fooled Again: The BETT 'select few' events which seldom attract teachers and advisers but mostly the upper echelons of the educational technology community. I don't usually bother signing up to any of these seminars because either they are too full or a little too distant from the chalk face in my opinion. The school leaders summit always sounds good and has some good speakers but is often costed. I also find you need to be highly organised, pre-meditated and you need almost psychic powers to remember to sign up and pay early.
Who Are You?: At BETT there are more chief education officers, chief executives, e-learning advisers, educational technology developers, independent consultants and executive headteachers to shake a thesaurus at and I will not miss these often misused titles. There are however some amazing educationists and advisers who attend BETT – long live the national strategy adviser!
The Kids Are Alright: The handbags, the hashtags, community and back-channel are sublime. The beers that have spurred friends and connections for a lifetime will remain and I will follow the Twitter back channel (#BETT2014) online. The best way to experience BETT, in my opinion, is to wait a week after the event and then read some of the superb blogs written by the likes of Terry Freedman, articles at agent4change.net and many respected educators such as Dawn Hallybone, Tony Parkin, Tim Rylands and Miles Berry. I will miss this community the most; however, I will continue to add to the debate on Twitter and the various networks, hashtags and blogs.
See Me, Feel Me: My article may sound a little acidic for some. I really will miss BETT 2014. BETT is an event that has directed my own career, shown me good practice, connected me with others and provided energy to a debate around the impact of educational technology that needs to keep moving in times of austerity.
Squeeze Box: Enjoy the event, save all the pens and always look for the best freebies... And in the immortal words of Roger Daltrey, "I'm Free!"
Enjoy BETT 2014!
Dan Bowen is a former head of ICT and assistant head of sixth form. He was an education advisor in Surrey and the south east of England after cutting his teeth as a National Strategies adviser. He is an active member of NAACE, Computing At School, CEOP, STEM ambassador and a fellow of Mirandanet, and has moved to Australia to advise and work with educational technology in the sunshine for a few years.
Artwork: Maia Terry