The ‘Late Late Toy Show’ is to kids as #BETT11 is to learning technologists!

Last Friday 14th (also my birthday!) I attended BETT 2011 (British Educational Training and Technology Show)  in Kensington Olympia, London.

After a whole and very intense day at BETT I was really shattered, but also very excited having experienced at first hand some of the latest in technology for learning. BETT is really a wonderland for learning technologists and would recommend it for all educational gadget enthusiasts!

I had been warned in advance that BETT is colossal event, so on first arrival I investigated the map of the arena and planned my main targets for the day. I focussed on meeting Turningpoint technologies (DIT clicker/classroom response systems); SMART technologies (to try out the latest in SMARTboards);  and Microsoft (to hear fellow tweeter @chickensaltash present about free Microsoft tools he uses for learning at school).

Meeting with Turningpoint technologies was really useful, particularly as we are starting the DIT Enhancement of learning with classroom response systems (clickers) project. I took advantage of an offer for one to-one training from Michael Jones on the Turningpoint stand. It was really beneficial to ask specific questions and discuss aspects of Turningpoint relating to  various question styles that  Turningpoint  offers. These included Priority ranking, Comparative links and Tracking demographics. Another useful feature I discovered was the creation of automatic participant lists, these tips will be really useful when I am working with DIT lecturers.

I also got to try the Smartphone app for Turningpoint, which can be installed on Android and iPhone. In time the app is forecast to replace the clicker devices. However the app option is still quite expensive. I was also quite lucky at the Turningpoint stand as I won an iTunes voucher! And did an interview on how DIT are using Turningpoint clickers for enhancement of learning.

The next generation of SMARTboards from SMART technologies are really impressive, I was absolutely fascinated by the 3D-ready SMARTboard which was demonstrated for a geography lesson. It simulated what an aerial view of the earth looked like, and focussing in on landmasses, oceans and mountains it was amazing to see the topography of the landscape below. Just like being on a simulated flight looking below at the earth really.

Some things that SMARTboards have improved on is the SMART touch, which is enhanced touch recognition (similar to the zoom option on an iPhone), this can be switched on by upgrading the SMART tech software.  Also I saw a Maths Add-on tool which can be downloaded as a 30 day trial, this would be really useful for any maths/sciences lecturers in DIT.

The Microsoft seminar facilitated by Dan Roberts saltash.net (@chickensaltash), a deputy-head teacher and also learning technology fan introduced some Microsoft free classroom innovations.

The Flashcards tool sounded like a useful tool for language teachers.  It generates Flashcard quizzes which could be useful for learning vocabulary.

The Maths Add-in for Word and OneNote could be valuable for maths teachers/lecturers. This tools enables equations to be visualised as graphs. This could be useful for physics or engineering subjects, where students can compare equations to the visualisation in the graph

Microsoft have their own clicker/classroom response system designed using the mouse device. ‘Mouse Mischief’  integrates into Microsoft PowerPoint allowing questions, polls, and drawing activity.

Partners in Learning is a professional development support network for teachers. This network advertises free events and demonstrates examples of best practice for technology in learning. Also for teachers Microsoft publish a Blog with suggested  classroom innovations
I was really delighted to attend BETT 2011.  It is a vast exhibition of almost all the suppliers of technology for the education sector. I would recommend it as an opportunity to experience and try-out the latest technology first-hand. It is also a good chance for networking and if you are strategic enough you can avail of free-training!

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About Muireann O'Keeffe

I am an educational developer currently working at DCU. I have a passion for researching and evaluating technology that can support and enhance learning. In the past I have taught on Masters programmes (Msc Applied elearning & Postgraduate Diploma in Third level Learning and Teaching) as well as Leadership development programmes.
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