Stephen HeppellStephen Heppell: on the BESA keynote crewBy George Cole
Running alongside the exhibition at BETT 2010 is a stimulating and vibrant seminar programme that lets visitors discover and debate the issues surrounding educational technology. BETT is renowned for attracting experts from around the world to speak, and this year is no exception.

Many of the seminars offer real-world, practical examples or activities, designed to inspire teachers to use technology in new, bold and effective ways, or simply enable schools to get the best out of what they have today. If you’ve never attended a BETT seminar, be sure to check out this year’s programme for more information and booking details. Meanwhile, here’s a taster of some of the highlight sessions.

There's always a huge selection to pick from so it's wise to spend a little time going through the programme, or checking online, way before you even get to BETT 2010. And be aware that Olympia is not a modern exhibition facility, so popular speakers may well have packed sessions. Just a little thought and planning can help avoid disappointments.

Sally McKeown“Reading for pleasure: technology and the future of literacy” (January 13, Gallery 2 Solutions Theatre 10.45-11.30) is presented by educational consultant Sally McKeown (left) and looks at how developments such as e-books, mobile phones, iPods and the internet are having an impact on children’s reading today. (Sally contributes to this website and you can see her downloadable SEN and Inclusion Tour of BETT 2010 here.)

Tim RylandsIt would be remiss of us to ignore the BESA keynote, which is supported by this website and hosted by Merlin John. Entitled: “Breaking the bonds of Learning,” a panel of experts made of learning expert Tim Rylands (left), new media guru Professor Stephen Heppell, educational technology expert Professor Angela McFarlane and 2Simple's key innovator Max Wainewright, it is bound to be a stimulating session, with the audience encouraged to participate in the debate using interactive mobile phone technology supplied by Steve Sidaway and Txttools (January 13, Apex Keynote Theatre 12.30-1.30).

With a title like “Video doesn’t kill the radio star – exciting learning through podcasting!” this is bound to be a no-holds barred session. Staff at Gray’s School show how they are using clips from Espresso news service to create podcasts, and how they impact on learning (January 13, Gallery 2 Solutions Theatre 14.30-15.15).

If you’ve ever wanted to know more about e-assessment then “e-assessment in the new assessment regime,” will provide many of the answers. Presented by Andrew Thraves, publishing director of Granada Learning, it looks at how e-assessment works and its potential benefits (January 13 SEN Theatre 14.30-15.15).

Miles BerryOpen Source software has its fans, not least because it can save schools money in licensing fees. With fears of an oncoming ICT austerity, and the Government's expectation that all public sector ICT contracts will consider open source, it is bound to become more important. But it's not all about infrastructure and saving money – there's learning too. “Creative computing with open source” is presented by Miles Berry (pictured) from Roehampton University and includes members of the open source school community, who will describe case studies using free downloadable tools (January 13, Gallery 2 Solutions Theatre 15.45-16.30).

There’s a lot of interest in improving home access to ICT and with a major government project being announced at BETT, there are bound to be plenty of questions on how such schemes work and their impact. “Home Access – a local story” sees Nick Sherlock from Becta reporting on the Home Access pilot project that took place on Oldham and Suffolk (January 13, Gallery 1 Policy Theatre 14.30-15.15).

What happens if every child has their own computer? “A laptop for every child? Impact on teaching and learning” sees Simon Botten of Christchurch CE VC Primary describes what needs to be considered when every key stage 2 child has a mini-laptop, from finance to e-safety, and software to parental involvement (14 January Gallery 2 Solutions Theatre 10.45-11.30).

Ollie BrayComputer games can be used for learning, as Ollie Bray (left) from Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS) explains in his seminar, “Computer games based learning in secondary schools.” LTS has carried out pioneering work bringing computer games into learning through it Consolarium project run by Derek Robertson (who Ollie now works with). As a Scotish depute headteacher (he is seconded to LTS) he has a deep understanding of the subject from the pedagogy to the management issues. His presentation includes real-world examples and advice (January 14, Club – Innovation Theatre 12.00-12.45).

You will find expertise about ICT for inclusion and special needs throughout BETT. The seminar stream is no exception. Consultant Maggie Wagstaff explains the various technologies and tools that are available to help children with additional needs in her seminar: “Technology Tools for Inclusion,” (January 14, SEN Theatre 14.30-15.15).

How can you be creative with ICT in the classroom? That’s the question answered by “Creative Classrooms: effective uses of technologies and learning in a primary school,” by Mark Wilson, head of Robin Hood Primary School. Mark will give practical examples of how technology is used in his school, including how it can help raise standards. (15 January Gallery 2 Solutions Theatre 10.45-11.30).

Being an innovator isn't easy - that's why Futurelab is creating a map

Being an innovator isn’t easy, but, “Map of innovation: supporting teachers in finding and sharing new practices,” will certainly help. Dan Sutch and Kieron Kirkland of Futurelab will be showing two new – and free – offerings from Futurelab, including the Map of Innovations website, a place for teachers to find and share new practices, plus a publication on how to break down the barriers to innovation (January 15, Gallery 2 Solutions Theatre, 10.45-11.30). Equipping teachers for learning in the21st century is the theme of a seminar presented by Malcolm Hunt of Becta: “Developing teachers for next generation learning,” looks at the skills and pedagogy required  and provides some successful school case studies (January 15, Galley 2 Solutions Theatre 15.45-16.30).

There’s a lot of talk about Web 2.0 (blogging, podcasting, personal photo albums, social networking sites and so on) but how can they be used in schools. Two seminars on the January 16 will help teachers made sense of the new opportunities. “Blogging to promote reflective learners,” is presented by Alex James and Gary Simmons from Sheffield West CLC, who describe a project which saw all Year 7 pupils at Myers School given a personal blog. Within a month of the project starting, more than 1,000 posts had been made (Club – Innovation Theatre 10.30-11.15).

Terry Freedman“Amazing Web 2.0 Projects – real progress in real classrooms with real kids!” is presented by ICT consultant Terry Freedman (left), who shows how the various Web 2.0 tools can be used in the classroom (Club – Innovation Theatre 12.30-13.15).

Are you brave enough to ditch most of your desktop PCs for thin clients? Thomas Deacon Academy in Peterborough has 2,200 pupils and 1,100 thin client machines. Teacher Steve Warburton describes how it all works in: “Thin clients: a technology whose time has come?” (January 16, Gallery 2 Solutions 13.30-14.15). Finally, a topic that is high on the agenda and schools too –  how technology can be used to help parents support their children’s learning. “Harnessing Parent Power,” a seminar presented by Peter Kensington from South Dartmoor Community College, shows how ICT can be used for things such as real-time reporting and enhancing home/school communication. (January 16, Gallery 2 Solutions Theatre 14.40-15.15).

BETT 2010 logo
BETT 2010
January 13-16, Olympia, London

Check out the BETT seminar programme here

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