BETT Show, London 2011

January is a busy month for learning technologists. On Monday we had Handeld Learning, this week is BETT and on 26/27th January it’s Learning Technologies.

I didn’t manage to get to Handheld Learning this year but I did manage to spend a few hours at BETT. BETT is the learning technology show for education so it’s frequented primarily by teachers who have a special bent on technology. Few corporate e-learning people attend but I always find it useful to see what is happening on the other side of the learning technology fence.

One thing that is immediately clear is that this is a big show – it takes over the whole of Olympia (Learning Technologies is teeny by comparison). As you can imagine the technologies on display are aimed primarily at the classroom environment so interactive whiteboards are really big at BETT. So are student response technologies – you know those little wireless devices that let pupils and students make contributions in class. There are also big stands by major IT players such as Dell, Asus, NEC, Toshiba and Adobe and Microsoft. Strangely there was no Apple stand but a fair number of Apple Resellers and Solution Experts. There was very little in the way of remote or virtual learning solutions. I guess this reflects the fact that the show is aimed primarily at classroom teachers. Synergy Learning were there with Moodle but there was no sign of Blackboard or any other virtual learning environment platforms.

Here are some highlights/lowlights:

  • Elearningforce were demonstrating their SharePoint based LMS. Ouch!
  • MOOPLE is a new virtual learning environment aimed at kids.
  • ASUS were demonstrating their new big slate device. Nice widescreen but Windows 7 is not a great slate OS and as for apps well you’ll just have to be patient.

One thing that you do see at BETT is learning technologies that are fun and engaging. Lego had a massive stand and there were some pretty cool interactive whiteboard applications. But probably the most interesting piece of new technology that I came across was a chair designed specifically to be used by a class gathered around an interactive whiteboard. The Lamu can be used in two positions facing forward or facing backwards (more like a conventional chair). Even for an adult it was surprisingly comfortable and facing forward it allows a sort of rocking motion that makes using it even more enjoyable.

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