About 1/4 of the stalls at BETT
On 12-13 January, I went to BETT, a free event all about technology in education. As one of the few non teachers around, it was interesting to be surrounded by a topic I am keen on and yet still feel like an outsider. Below are are few of my observations from the day – the ups and down.
Firstly, Olympia in London is HUGE!
There is a definite need to plan your day. I arrived thinking I would just go with the flow and walk through the stalls…. How mistaken I was! After spending 2 hours walking down one aisle, I realised that the venue was twice the originally thought size! So many people and so many venders is exhausting. So, for Day 2 I went in the afternoon only, as the best time to get to talk to people was in the last 2 hours of the show, when many people have left. I definitely recommend it.
Tip – if you are working on a stall, ask the person what they do before talking about your product.The amount of times that someone assumed I was a teacher and therefore gave me an irrelevant sales pitch was astronomical. They wasted both of our time, when with a better understanding of my work, they might have made a sale/network.
People don’t know what social enterprise means– My favourite conversation:
Man at stall – ‘are you a teacher?’
Me – ‘No, I work for a social enterprise’
Man – ‘oh then you won’t be interested’.
Me – ‘do you know what a social enterprise is?’
Man – ‘No’
Me – ‘Then how do you know that I’m not interested?
Of course, I then felt the need to explain to him that I am interested in how technology can help people learn in life, not just school. It turns out that I wasn’t interested in his product but this conversation just shows how confused people are by the social enterprise term.
The SEN (Special Needs) section was great. Everyone was very approachable and there were some great stalls there. A couple of my favourites are pictured below.
– An accessible music making machine! Disability or not, this thing is cool. And their stall? Low budget and down to earth..loved it.
Scene & Heard
– A different type of communication app for the iPad. Press the bed, it says ‘I want to go to bed’, press the chair, it says ‘ I want to sit in the chair’, etc. the possibilities are endless on who this could be used with and best of all, it’s not at all patronising.
– Yes, it’s like an interactive whiteboard, but you can move it up, down, angle it, etc. Plug a laptop in and use any software from the computer on the touchscreen. Best of all, you can lean on one part of it and still touch the rest (a common issue with the iPad). Just imagine these screens in hospitals, doctors offices etc!
Accessibility, what’s that? These 2 inch platforms were on about 40% of the stalls, most without a ramped zone. Besides me tripping all the time, howis a wheelchair supposed to get up there? The worst parts, a few of the SEN stalls had them!
Is there an app for that? There were so many stalls using and promoting interactive whiteboards and so few with apps for tablets and mobiles. Why have one interactive whiteboard when you can have lots of individual tablets to do the same thing and more? When asked whether they have an app for that the answer was almost always, no but we will one day. I really do feel for people. The popularity of tablets happened so quickly and means a completely revamped business model/plan. I was disappointed by how few of them took on this challenge.
The busiest stalls were the creative, interactive ones. Who did this best! Surprise surprise, it’s Google and Apple (well companies promoting Apple). If you want people to come to your stall, give away free smoothies in test tubes, stick your fliers in a bicycle basket, and have somewhere to sit and rest while you listen to free talks.
Next week I will be attending the technology in learning conference, which is targeted more set training and development professionals in businesses. It is also at Olympia, so it will be interesting to compare and contrast the two events.