2013 saw my first trip to Bett, so I jumped on the train with @carledgar86 and headed down to London armed with a double pack of Lucozade and six Twix caramel slices.
I would like to think that most people attending Bett this year would have been a little disappointed to be greeted by over a dozen companies selling interactive whiteboards – most of which seemed to be almost identical to each other. However, I got the increasing feeling that this was merely the norm. That said, it didn’t appear to stop floods of people from visiting these stands (or indeed the companies from lashing out in excess of £50k to be there for the week). One unnamed interactive whiteboard firm had even managed to differentiate its interactive whiteboard range from the others by lying it on its side and turning it into a table. It goes without saying that they were the most popular.
The same could be said for the plethora of companies selling visualisers, which are apparently still able to supply enough to meet their ever increasing levels of expected demand. At least a bit of healthy competition might help drive the price down a little. The point made by @James_Bowkett leaves little else to be said about the matter.
Any half decent tablet makes Interactive Whiteboards and Visualisers totally obsolete yet they are everywhere at #BETT13
— James Bowkett (@James_Bowkett) February 2, 2013
I would also like to think that most people would have been disappointed to see plenty of VLEs at this year’s event. But let’s face it, no educational technology show would be complete without their fair share of VLEs and bright colours, which irresistibly combine to make them infinitely more attractive to potential customers. I spent a reasonable amount of time playing with the soon-to-be-launched Frog4OS – interested to see if they had been able to design a VLE that is fully compatible with mobile devices (after watching a Frog employee try five times to drag a dashboard widget into place I decided enough was enough). I had one question – ‘will you be able to upload and download all types of files from your iPad into Frog?’. The answer was ‘well, er…the iPad doesn’t have a native file browser so that isn’t possible’. No further questions were asked. I arrived expecting that attempting to integrate a Frog VLE into an iPad 1:1 would be unecessarily difficult, I left knowing that attempting to integrate a Frog VLE into an iPad 1:1 would be unecessarily difficult.
Moan over. There was lots of great stuff – here were my 5 highlights:
Mathspace – I was generously pointed in the direction of Mathspace by @timstirrup, who kindly alerted me to its potential greatness and then even more kindly told me where it was when I couldn’t find it. Billing itself as ‘online maths training like you’ve never seen before’ – Mathspace might just signal a new generation of exciting maths products. Currently only available in Australia and under development for the UK curriculum at the moment, Mathspace is a web based tool or iPad app and there is a free trial available if you can’t wait for it arrive permanently. I haven’t bothered explaining what it actually does, the video below covers that. I just hope they don’t price themselves out of the UK market.
Zondle – I was almost slightly embarrassed to have never come across Zondle before. A games based learning site with versions available for mobile devices, Zondle allows teachers to create and access previously made quizzes on any subject whilst managing the progress of their class. Zondle is different from other games based learning sites in that you can ‘play any quiz, with any game’, cleverly separating them to ensure that a topic is not only associated with a specific game. Most of the content is aimed at younger students (primary or KS3), but you can easily develop your own quizzes in a matter of seconds. Their website also contains the words ‘Zondle is free, and always will be!’
Beluga Maths – Beluga have recently released their Learn Maths with Beluga iPad app, a games based approach to learning mathematics that really aims to develop an understanding of each topic. The content is currently only aimed at younger students, but will soon be extending all the way up to A Level problems, with a HTML5 web-based version on its way soon too. It will be really interesting to see how this one develops. Their website also contains the words ‘free forever, with unlimited updates’. Very nice, although student tracking comes at an additional cost.
Showbie – I have long been a fan of Showbie for iPad workflow, but I became more a fan this week when it became free to all users. It isn’t the finished product, but it definitely offers the easiest workflow for teachers looking to collect, mark and redistribute content created on the iPad.
Hackasaurus – This wasn’t technically a Bett discovery since I came across this following #tmbett2013 courtesy of @mberry, but I can scarcely believe how great it is as an introduction to coding. Hackasaurus is a bookmark that allows you to see and alter the code for any web page – watching the end result change as you remix it. An alternative version of my blog may be on the cards.