#BETT2024 – #Edtech Odyssey
As the doors closed for #BETT2024 and I travelled home, I reflected upon my experience, I had hosted the Global Futures theatre, greeting guests from around the world and introducing speakers, immersed myself with new tech, celebrated with winners, networked with known and new connections, offered advice to others, been inspired and learnt a lot.
Let me take you on a whistle stop tour of the anatomy of an #edtech event
In the global futures theatre, in addition to welcoming national and international guests and speakers, I also learnt a lot. As an edupreneur, I was inspired by the #edtech start-ups sharing their products and ideas in 5 minute slots and being quizzed by the audience. I took lots of notes.
Play Morgan Studios – extreme gamification for language learning. Traditional and popular games have been given an educational element. Aligned with the national curriculums. The aim is to ensure that learners learn what they actually need to converse in a language and not irrelevant phrases. Five languages are covered and they are all interchangeable (Mandarin, Spanish, French, German and English)
The Park Federation Academy Trust – we had previously connected in the virtual world. This academy trust, recognised that they had lots of great practice embedded and decide to share their expertise beyond school walls. They offer digital days, other schools can book to attend and benefit from their expertise and experience. There is also a prize draw later on in the year.
Riley Bot – a chatbot for schools. This syncs with schools data and gives age appropriate responses to students. For example, consider two pupils aged 10 and 18, who wanted an explanation on photosynthesis. The bot would give an age appropriate response. This is being developed for primary aged pupils
In the theatre, I also heard from panellists and speakers on
Automated marking solutions – CoPilot for Marking – this could be a game changer as it promises to reduce marking a script such as a GCSE script to seconds on marking. Many educators, who view marking as the bane of their existence or who earn from marking scripts, may well want to keep an eye on this addition to the education space.
Cantoo Scribe – helping students with learning disabilities and needs, My Word Pal – Deliberately disrupting dyslexia, Software Academy – bringing university education to children for free, Summative – with an automated online assessment offering for STEM subjects
Hearing about the education landscape in Latin America, India, South Africa and the USA. Overall, we have more similarities than differences in our education systems. In fact, the BETT theme this year is very fitting – Teaching to Thrive in Fast Changing Times. All countries are managing post covid issues, adaptation and challenges of AI, lack of skilled workers, digital literacy, budgets and etc
Trying new technology
The Meta stand provided an augmented reality chemistry experience, Thinking back to my school days and my Johnny Ball home chemistry set, I entered this new world and mixed chemicals in the AR world. For someone who usually gets dizzy wearing a headset, I must say, I had an amazing experience – the Meta Quest 3 is definitely worth the hype!
A favourite collaborative tool of mine is Padlet. This has been given a lift and the member of staff gave an excellent demonstration. I particularly, liked how AI has been incorporated into the Padlet Magic board. This is utilising ChatGPT behind the scenes. Magic Padlet can be accessed through teacher Padlet accounts. Within the Padlet offering, there is now also AI image generation through “I can’t draw” utilising DALL-E and Hive behind the scenes. Images generated are 3 from DALL-E and £ from Hive. I am sure you can see, I enjoyed getting down to the nuts and bolts of what is actually happening.
A stop by the JP.IK stand was amazing. The digital labs featuring renewable energy, AI and 3D Immersive experiences were excellent. The representative on the stand also gave me a thorough explanation of collaborative and industrial robots, along with a demo of a Jaka robot. The robot was also linked up to a Scratch program (it can also be programmed in Python, C and other languages). Robotics was made very relatable and I honestly feel that if teaching was a bit more practical and in the style of the demonstration I had, that more students would be more interested and see the real world relevance of what they are being taught.
Everyday I am intrigued by the advances and limitations of #artificialintelligence – I couldn’t help myself, on the Microsoft stand, I tried Microsoft Designer and its generative AI text to image offering. Bulit on a DALL-E engine, I prompted to create an avatar with the following:
- Award winner
- Mixed Caribbean heritage
- K-Pop style
- Mid-length hair
- Black hair
- Background of a Scottish mountain range
The output was good, but not quite what I required. It brings into question the accuracy and diversity of the dataset, upon which the image generator is trained. A question we must all continue to ask ourselves. At home I also tested this with family members and seemingly all men, in their late 40s have beards. AI is great, but we must continue to question.
Celebrations for the best companies
The BETT Awards celebrated the very best of edtech companies. A glittering event, with everyone dressed in their finery and the air punctuated with excitement, as entrants await the announcement of winners in a variety of categories. The awards also provide for great networking opportunities. Here are a few snaps from the night.
Networking and Coaching
Back at the BETT event, I attended planned meetups and also bumped into colleagues. Cue, a lot of selfies, and meeting some people in real life for the very first time. I nurtured and expanded my personal and professional learning network.
During the event a few young women asked me – How could they progress their careers? I offered on the spot advice and encouragement. Upon reflection, I realised that maybe others have this question, so here I share a few of my tips, from the start of one conversation:
Question: What advice can you offer me as a 21 year old getting started in my career?
Answer: You are at one of the world’s biggest #edtech events, why did you come here?
Some of the discussion that then followed:
- Identify the companies you wish to speak with
- Visit as many as possible
- Set a minimum number of contacts you wish to leave the event with
- Be open to conversations and opportunities that you had not previously identified
- Share your LinkediN details
- Have a pen and notepad for the times that WiFi connectivity is patchy
- Share a few photos and thoughts about the day online and tag others
My recommendations for after the event and beyond are:
- Follow up with all contacts within one week ( I spent Saturday after the event, connecting on social media and writing this article)
- Schedule a quick meet online (up to 30 minutes, with your new connections)
- Write a blog post
- Remember to thank people who have helped you along the way (preferably in person)
- Keep developing and good luck!
Overall, after every event you attend, think about how that experience will be moving you forward
I visited the BETT Arena and was inspired by Michael Rosen. I am always learning and seeking to develop my creative practice. Michael gave a practical lesson on reader response techniques against a backdrop of a poem by Langston Hughes – I too. I will definitely be incorporating aspects into my writing.
Continuing on the author theme, I was privileged and delighted to be invited back onto BETT Radio (Day 3) and to be interviewed by Maria Caneda and Russell Prue.
Lack of access to Digital
It would be remiss of me not to mention that amidst all of the tech, there are many here in the UK who are digitally excluded. I encourage you to look at the work of the Learning Foundation/Digital Poverty Alliance, who are committed to ending Digital Poverty by 2030. There are a number of ways to get involved and also schemes such as Tech4Teachers and Tech4Families.
Until next year
I have already marked out the time in my diary for #BETT2025 – I recommend you do the same!
Would you like to work with me?
I am a multi-talented, award winning woman in tech. An edupreneur with a portfolio career – covering: education consulting, hosting/panellist, speaking, coaching, blogging, author/writer, podcasting, awards judge, resource writer, role model/ambassador, trustee and more!