This year I managed to have good old trawl through the exhibition. I am always on the lookout for something that I have not seen before and as usual I was completely disappointed. Not much changes in a year and most of what is presented as new often represents little more than incremental change to existing products if not old products repackaged in the hope that nobody will notice. I suppose I shouldn’t be disappointed because it means I am on top of my job and it is only just over 3 months since I last worked my round an exhibition of educational suppliers at The Scottish Learning Festival.
Having said that if you take a longer term view 3, 5 or even 10 years you really can see some changes. The shift from floppy disk to CD-ROM to DVD and of course the web as the platform of choice. The massive change in the processing power of the desktop computer and as a result the significant change to the quality of graphics and interactivity. Peripheral devices used to be limited to printer, scanners and a limited range of switches etc for special educational needs learners. Now the array of digital input and output devices means that professional standard tools are available to all teachers and learners to use in the classroom. Only a few years ago early education was very poorly served at BETT now the offerings are considerable. All good progress I suppose but really nothing that has really set the educational heather alight – although as you would expect there are many who would want you to believe that it does or at least will soon. What will set the educational heather alight is not the technology but the practice and you just can’t capture that in a product suppliers exhibition.
Having said all of that the best of BETT is in the opportunity to meet people. I met with staff from: Scottish and English local authorities; Becta and QCA; BBC; the commercial educational ICT sector; policy makers from across the globe; and many old friends and aquaintances.
So overall was it worth spending 12 hours on trains and three nights in a hotel? On balance probably yes but I may just give BETT 2009 a miss … so that I get more out of BETT 2010.