The 2019 BETT Show is over for another year and already the organisers are taking bookings for the January 2020 show.
This year’s show was once again jam packed with companies and organisations involved in digital education. As always there was much to see on the stands and at the various talks that were taking place all over BETT and beyond. From speaking to colleagues there were many highlights at the show and these varied, depending on your perspective and your interests (just to share 2 other views).
For me there were a number of things that stood out this year. Firstly, coding and all things related to maker spacers were very much in evidence. The number of companies that are now creating kits to help schools engage in coding and to develop maker spacers was definitely up on last year. Secondly, the use of VR headsets was prominent on many stands and finally STEM or STEAM activities were also very visible.
I have selected three products that caught my attention, as I was looking for content and experiences for use in a STEM blended learning project that I am engaged in. The first tool was class.me, an Israeli app that connects students, teachers and educational environments. This is WhatsApp for education and it allows students to collaborate and interact on educational content in a safe space. There are 3 levels to the service; the app, the teacher dashboard and a private tutoring service. The first two are relevant to Irish teachers and you can download the App from the App Store and Play Store. For more information on their services click here.
The second product I selected is edumedia which has produced an extensive set of Science animations for both primary and post-primary students.
What I particularly liked about edumedia is that you can reuse their content and create your own videos using the video capture feature. So you can create your own voice over on the animation and then share it with your students. Imagine using this tool with students studying Physics through the medium of Irish – suddenly teachers and students can create their own high quality content that will help in developing a deeper understanding of STEM subjects, such as Physics. So well worth a look around.
My final choice is from the world of VR. While there were many products on show, all too often, I walked away going why or how would a school or teacher use this in their learning activities? I even asked some of the companies and I wasn’t always persuaded by their responses. However, one platform did give me food for thought and for using VR in training settings, particularly in Further Education and Training and work-based learning settings. It is the uptale platform.
The platform allows learning organisations to create their own immersive environments where learners can engage in learning in a safe and controlled world. The platform makes it very easy to create your own worlds and to add interactions and quizzes, as you see fit. They also introduced me to the cheapest, yet good quality 3D glasses, on display at the show (see above). These glasses fit on your phone and enables the learner to engage in immersive learning on their phone, without the need for expensive headsets.
The case for using these technologies is becoming clearer in the world of work as evidenced in their vision below.
The question is, how and where can it work best in schools?