Looking for a recap of BETT 2017, I stumbled across The Edtech Podcast.
I am a heavy podcast listener in my personal life. Audio content delivery, whether by radio or podcasting, is a surprisingly durable medium as it allows multi-tasking media consumption with a narrower scope of production issues compared to video for instance; proven by the fact that I am listening to a podcast as I produce this blog!
Episode 57 of The EdTech Podcast outlines some of the main trends that emerged at BETT 2017 along with some interviews from the show. The general trends were in line with my attendance in 2016 but some of the conversations also seem to have advanced quite a bit. The tough financial situation of many schools was still to the fore, which is often quite jarring alongside some of the flashier educational technology on show at BETT. While technological developments can facilitate many creative approaches it’s important that they are scalable and affordable to be truly effective.
BETT also hosts many software developments that help to ease the administrative burdens on schools and teachers, such as Show My Homework which allows homework allocation, grading and other reporting through a central online hub. While not directly affecting learning content, it will be interesting to see how these new kinds of school infrastructure affect learning and school environments over time. During the interview, the creators of Show My Homework distinguished themselves from other edtech developers by recognising that many companies were more interested in selling their systems into schools without having interest in supporting them than genuinely innovating. While hardware is consistently being pushed into schools they cited that it is much more important to see what is actually being used in the classroom post-purchase.
There was also an interview with Amanda Jackson from the Havering Institute who showed quite a lot of skepticism on pushing VR into classrooms. While it allows for a lot of experiences and perspectives for students she cited that it needs to be used in the correct context to be truly effective.
Finding ways to promote online safety was also a common topic at BETT 2017. Difficulties around filtering internet and asking students to take responsibility for their own browsing had different approachs in different countries. Case studies described Swedish schools making students responsible for their own devices and installation rights which is apparently part of a wider culture of letting students work more independently of their teachers than is common in other European education systems.
Much as in 2016, BETT 2017 seems to simultaneously show creative, blue-sky, education possibilities to the fore, but financial difficulties and a lack of edtech implementation strategies still lurk in the background. The next two episode of the podcast will follow up on more trends and interviews from this year’s showfloor so will be well worth a listen.
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