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Looking ahead, which technologies are forecast to be an increasing part of our classroom environment?

Caroline Wright from BESA offers insight into their recent research on school budgets and expenditure

Another year has passed and in this time technology has continued to become increasingly ingrained in our students’ lives and in their future careers. Despite the removal of ringfenced funding for ICT, schools now recognise that they
must continue to invest in technology to avoid a digital divide. At Bett 2012 an unprecedented number of educators came to keep up to date with the latest learning technologies and more importantly, to ensure they were investing wisely. However, do schools still have the budget to invest in technology?

There had certainly been a perception by schools that there was a significant declinein funding, but our ‘Resources in English Maintained Schools’ research released earlier this year showed that this was far from true. Yes, schools which had thrived on government funding increases of, on average, 3.5% every year, over the previous decade, were, for the first time, faced with budget cuts. However our research showed that in 2011/12 the reduction was by just 1.8% in primary schools and 2.7% in secondary education; they were, in effect, as well off as they had been a year earlier.

So schools still have money to invest and the need for ICT to be embedded across the curriculum is ever present.

Added to this, the move away from local authority control, makes it even more important for schools to visit Bett, to ensure they are seeing all the available product options and of course, having the opportunity to negotiate the best price! So many new responsibilities have been placed on schools and the need for on-going professional development is paramount to a school’s success. Bett’s increasingly popular CPD programme is the ideal platform for visitors to source this.

Looking ahead which technologies are forecast to be an increasing part of our classroom environment?

Our research has shown that 75% of primary schools and 68% of secondary schools currently use visualisers and 85% and 66%, respectively, forecast their use by the time of Bett.

Further research announced in May revealed an increasing focus in the adoption of tablet computers. Our findings showed that 6% of all pupil-facing computers in schools will be tablets by the end of 2012. The schools surveyed forecast that by the end of 2015 the percentage of tablets will have risen to 22% of all pupil-facing computers. Unsurprisingly, 82% of all teachers also said that their pupils have an interest in using tablets.

So once again Bett is set to offer visitors the most pertinent CPD sessions, coupled with a display of the very latest technologies, supplied by over 600 exhibitors. We will be on the BESA Information Point (stand area E250) throughout the show to answer any queries you may have.

We look forward to seeing you there.
Caroline Wright | BESA

For more news and views from Bett visitors and exhibitors, download 2013’s Bett Update

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Having a BETTer experience

Terry Freedman, independent educational ICT consultant and publisher of the ICT in Education website, shares his tips for getting the best out of BETT.

As a BETT veteran (should that be ‘BETTeran’?), I have developed a number of strategies over the years for getting the most out of BETT.

Now, you might think that this is a bit over the top – after all, how hard can it be to just turn up, whiz round, and do everything you need to without any planning? Well, the answer is that you could do that, but you won’t necessarily benefit as much as you might have done with a little planning.

BETT is big in terms of numbers: last year there were over 30,000 visitors. BETT is big on ideas as well. There’s always a healthy crop of cutting edge technology, not all of which has immediately obvious application in education, but is valuable nonetheless in encouraging out-of-the-box thinking. The seminars and conference are also increasingly important sources of invaluable information In fact, BETT is now regarded as the biggest educational technology show in the world. All well and good, but how can you ensure getting the best out of BETT?

I’ve written over 50 top tips for BETT which will be published soon in my newsletter, Computers for Classrooms because there isn’t room here for that many! So here are seven key ones to be thinking about.

Why bother?

I think one good reason is, quite simply, the buzz. While it’s difficult to quantify it in any way, there is definitely a value in taking the opportunity to become (re)inspired by the sheer range and amount of resources available.

There’s another reason: you might find a cost-effective solution to a budget-related problem. Last year, for example, I came across at least two products I hadn’t heard of before which could potentially save a school thousands of pounds per year.

But perhaps the most important reason is that it’s an opportunity for some really good professional development, both formally, in the form of seminars, and informally, in the form of talking to people.

Before BETT

Ask permission to go! It’s an obvious statement to make, but it’s a good idea to make sure your attendance at BETT is in the school calendar and planned for. With any luck, that will make it less likely to be cancelled at the last minute because of a colleague’s absence.

Register online, free of charge. It makes it much quicker to get in than lining up when you arrive.

Get yourself some business cards. Apart from the fact that handing someone your card looks a lot more professional than writing your email address on the back of their show catalogue, there are two other benefits. First, you can drop your cards into prize draw boxes. Second, instead of carting home reams of stuff, you can ask exhibitors to contact you after the show – without having to fill out one of their contacts forms.

During BETT

If you get thirsty, look out for free water which may be provided by some exhibitors.

When you strike up a conversation with someone, or meet up with colleagues, always ask: what have you seen today that has excited you? And then follow up on their suggestions.

After BETT

Arrange a team meeting for as soon as possible after the show. Have each team member say what three things most excited them, and three new ideas they picked up, plus what needs to change in your current practice. OK, “three” is an arbitrary and artificial number, but you get the idea.

A forthcoming edition of Computers in Classrooms will include dozens more suggestions. See you at BETT!

Terry publishes the ICT in Education website at http://www.ictineducation.org and the Computers in Classrooms newsletter at http://www.ictineducation.org/nesletter.

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The future is bleak, but get it right and the future could be bright…

Dave Smith is ICT Adviser for the Havering School Improvement Services’ ICT Team, Finalists in the ‘ICT Service and Support’ category in the 2012 BETT Awards. The Hsis ICT Team has co-produced ‘Switched On ICT’ with Rising Stars Publishers, Finalists in the ‘Innovation in ICT’ category too.  Dave is also Chair of the Visualiser Forum and Teaching Technology Group.

So, the world’s economy is teetering on the brink, the future is looking bleak, yet we still want to improve educational opportunities for our children. The latest UNESCO publication designed to help train teachers on ways to optimise the use of information and communication technologies in the classroom has been launched and emphasises that teachers need to be able to help students become collaborative, problem solving creative learners through using ICT so they will be effective global citizens. http://www.unescobkk.org/education/ict/online-resources/databases/ict-in-education-database/item/article/unesco-ict-competency-framework-for-teachers-version-20/

Therefore, if we are to fulfil the aims of the UNESCO framework within the straightjacket of the current economic crisis, we need to look carefully at how we deploy educational budgets to enable our children to flourish for a brighter future. With this in mind, you might like to consider the following advice:

  • Ensure you have a fully costed plan of future and previous expenditure, showing analysis of impact of expenditure and total cost of ownership and outlining ‘non-negotiable items’ in case the financial axe has to fall
  • Make the best use of existing technology and dispose of unwanted software and hardware that might be costing you money to maintain
  • Reduce printing costs by using print credits and storing outcomes of work electronically
  • Make use of free and educationally rich Web 2.0 applications – check out BETT Awards Finalist http://www.risingstars-uk.com/series/switched-on-ict/ for ideas on how to make effective use of existing tools and Web 2.0 applications
  • Review levels of technical support to ensure best value and look for additional free support from local partner educational establishments in order to pool resources
  • Engage with parents and carers as a source to support ICT provision – through a BYOD ‘Buy Your Own Device’ scheme. Checkout the e-Learning Foundation http://www.e-learningfoundation.com/
  • Look for additional funding from commercial or charitable organisations

ICT in Havering – www.haveringict.edublogs.org

Havering School Improvement Services – www.havering-sis.org

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The changing nature of BETT

Tony Parkin, an educational consultant and former Head of ICT Development at SSAT (and, as he describes himself, a disruptive nostalgist), ponders the many reasons why people go to BETT.

So we are into the autumn term, with weather to match, and thoughts turn towards Christmas, and its immediate follower… the BETT show. Which means time for the annual debate about this show, its role, purpose and value to school leaders and practitioners. In fact Ray Barker’s first entry on this blog was undoubtedly the starting pistol for this discussion, as he extolls BETT’s virtues as free CPD… one of its many dimensions.

I have been going to BETT since its inception… one of the exhibitors erecting a stand in that first year, bumping his head on the amazingly low roof of the original Barbican exhibition space (only amazing until you realised it was originally designed to be a car park). I have been almost every year since – and admit to welcoming each opportunity and seeing it as a high point of the education technology year. I even attended when not working in education, and met others doing exactly the same!

Current BETT attendees who see it as an ICT showcase would be surprised at the number of furniture and fittings suppliers, training providers, stationery manufacturers and book publishers that were there at the early events. BETT has been changing and developing annually since those early days, and these changes have invariably been accompanied by a background mix of approving and disapproving comments. The BETT show represents so many different things to many different people. For every teacher seeking free CPD there is a supplier seeing BETT as their opportunity to get a carefully-nurtured educational product in front of the eyes of potential purchasers. For every politician and government agency keen to get an opportunity to extol and promote their current policy, there has been a practitioner keen to meet up with and exchange ideas with other practitioners without having their ears bent or wallet raided. Given these different expectations and needs it is hardly surprising that there is this annual debate.

Trade show? National conference with an exhibition attached? International showcase and exhibition with a conference attached? BETT is expected to be all these things and more – and problems only arise when people expect it to be focussed solely upon one, rather than catering to all. The debate, often heated, is nonetheless often useful and constructive… and can be a useful catalyst for new developments. Everyone now welcomes and benefits from the new season of practitioner events, such as Teachmeet BETT, Teachmeet Takeovers and Collabor8te4Change that grew out of practitioner criticisms.

For me BETT is a wonderful opportunity for an annual coming together of a wider community, where teacher meets manufacturer, supplier meets consultant, and bureaucrat actually gets to see some (albeit sadly too few) children using technology. Our shared faith in the value of learning technologies is reinforced. Old friendships are renewed and new ones made. New technologies are encountered for the first time – even during one of those apocryphal ‘nothing new at BETT this year’ years. Perhaps most importantly, UK plc gets to show the world it is a leader in the development and use of learning technologies, and an amazingly large number of international leaders and practitioners come to learn, admire and buy into that vision. And the buying matters…

You can follow Tony Parkin on Twitter @tonyparkin

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