Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Taking over BETT 2010

BETT 2009 at  Olympia Tiltshifted
Subject to the uksnow it's likely that I'll be trekking to Olympia again next week for the annual shuffling-round-a-large-hall-fest that is BETT - like Naace it's something whose origins are given away by its acronym - in this case the British Educational Training and Technology Show/fair/exhibition/bunfight. I'll be there for four days, mainly on the Adobe stand talking about our use of Connect & Captivate to support our Moodle implementation, and also about some of the practical issues around running our Games Design course across two continents. This is fairly standard stuff as far as BETT goes, as is (surprisingly) the Friday evening TeachMeet session - which if you're attending you can (& should) find out more about and sign up for on the relevant TeachMeet page.
During various threads on Twitter about BETT - including a mainly productive one on Tips for (new) visitors to BETT - I opined how BETT would, to my mind, benefit significantly from having an "L" in its title (and core purpose) similar to the one in SLF - the Scottish Learning Festival, which was tellingly formerly titled SETT. Both are run by EMAP, who have donated the space for TEDx Orenda, AmplifiED and TeachMeet's evening session on the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights respectively but it appears to me (never having attended SLF) that there's a clue to the focus of the events from their acroymns. I don't know what "BELT" would be like, but I think it would have more of the flavour of a TeachMeet-like event...
It struck me this week that I'm could end up being ridiculously busy during BETT - I've put myself down to do a micropresentation on the Teachers As Writers project I've blogged about previously, plus there's...
Perhaps something more encouraging in this is the development of TeachMeet Takeover - which can best be summarised in the strapline on its wiki page - teachers sharing inspiration for free. Essentially, if you're going to BETT and want to share something about using free tools to support learning, you can sign up for one of the thirty minute slots donated by a number of exhibitors from the Thursday to Saturday of BETT and share what you're doing (with free tools). It's that simple. Here are some of the sorts of topics being covered at the time of writing:
  • Edmodo, Ning and Wallwisher - The more ways students can communicate, the more teachers should listen;
  • Google Maps and Google Earth in the classroom;
  • Ideas for using tools in language learning (but applicable to whole curriculum!) Voki, Voicethread, Storybird, Wallwisher;
  • Maths Maps - using Google Maps to find maths all around us;
  • Glogging all over the World;
  • Wordle, Tagul & Brainpop
You can read the complete list (and sign up) on the TeachMeet wiki, or read Tom Barrett's original blog post. Either way, if you're around BETT on the Thursday, Friday or Saturday, come and encourage those who are taking the free stuff into the exhibition halls (like a better, newer, shinier version of something that happened a few years ago...). I'll be doing three practical #tmtakeover sessions on how to incorporate things like Google Docs, Buzzword, Aviary, Wallwisher etc. (all free) into Moodle - though the principles I'll be demonstrating are hopefully generic enough that any VLE, Learning Platform or web-based app that's half decent will be able to use them to good effect. I'll also try and record one of the presentations (or maybe someone on one of the stands might do it for me) and publish it in full afterwards...
Something else which may be of interest is the Open Source Café on stand L20 which promises bean bags, coffee and presentations, discussions and possibly workshops on using Open Source in education. I'll be doing a presentation on Wednesday on how we've reflected some of the Open Source-ness of Moodle in how we've rolled it out and supported it across schools in Buckinghamshire, and Miles Berry has promised Good Coffee at the café (as you'd hope, really).
If you're going to BETT, have a good time, sign up for one of the evening events if you can - and remember if you're going for the first time, or taking colleagues who haven't been before: it's better to come away with one or two good, practical, useable ideas that you'll keep far longer than any amount of educational technology promotional swag that you'll only throw away in a year's time. If you have any BETT tips and use Twitter, then use the hashtag #tips4bett to share them with other people...
David Buckingham writes interestingly (and quite accurately in my opinion) about BETT in Beyond Technology- Children's Learning in the Age of Digital Culture - but what are your experiences of BETT? If you've been to the Scottish Learning Festival, has there been a difference since it changed from SETT into SLF? I'd love to hear.

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