BETT (British Educational Training and Technology Show) returned to the ExCeL Arena in London from March 29th – 31st and I was delighted to be back having missed last year’s return of this flagship educational technology event post covid. The official stats maintain I was one of 30,000 educators, policy makers, EdTechs and industry changemakers from 123 countries and BETT 2023 didn’t disappoint. Whist this year’s show seemed smaller than pre-pandemic incarnations, it was once again jam packed with companies and organisations in the digital education space with much to see on the stands and at the various talks that were taking place. Higlights are subjective of course but read on for my musings on the key takeaways from BETT 2023…
First up, there is a growing presence of European and international companies at the show. This year the international section featured many countries including, Lithuania, Norway, Spain, Hungary, Germany, Netherlands in addition to increased representation from the Middle East. The show, as usual, had a large presence of hardware providers, and there was quite a focus on digital services companies (i.e. managing broadband, security etc.). There was a large emphasis on coding and Maker Space type activities for example Creative Hut and MakeKit AS., while there was a large number of new digital education content providers based around Europe and beyond.
Surprisingly, whilst there was some discussion around AI, particularly in the scheduled talks, there was a low visibility of products that are using AI in ways that might really help administrators, teachers and students. There were some interesting products, such as ‘enlight ed’, a Dutch start-up company that is using AI to help students engage in conversations to solve Math, Physics and Chemistry problems but you had to go looking for these and even then, it is not clear what impact these might have in classrooms, as they are early stage.
Digital Transformation – Overall there was a lot of marketing hype around ‘transformation’, but once again not sure if people were really showcasing what was being transformed and why. However, there is clearly a lot going on at EU level in digital education and teachers and others will need support to maximise the potential of the tools being developed.
With BETT 2023 in the rear-view mirror, organisers have shifted focus to BETT 24, back at the ExCel but rescheduled for January 24 – 26 January 2024, marking a return to pre-pandemic timings, for more see uk.bettshow.com.
There is no doubt that BETT is now a global show and it is attracting an ever-diverse audience, in terms of exhibitors and attendees. Yet, there is a lot of same-old-same-old about the products and services on offer and it does lack the excitement of previous BETT shows when new products and services were on display. Hopefully, the recent hype around AI and other emerging technologies will really start to come through in time for the 2024 show and we will once again experience those, ‘AHA’ moments when we discover new products that have real potential to transform education.