Our BETT 2015 Highlights
January was a particularly hectic month for us here at Fundamentally Children, what with the 2015 Toy Fair in Olympia and The 2015 BETT Show at ExCel running at the same time! But nonetheless, we made the trip from one side of London to another in order to attend the world’s largest educational technology show, which certainly lived up to expectations! We pleased to share our BETT 2015 highlights with you, where we saw many great speeches, products and exhibitions during our visit between the 21st and 23rd of January.
The Keynote Speeches
Over the course of the show, we sat in on some great keynote speeches from industry leaders and influential speakers, but two of the most notable speeches that stood out in particular came from Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, and Liz Sprout, Head of Google Education EMEA.
Starting off with Jimmy Wales, his keynote speech on the New Paradigm of Open Access to Information through Wikipedia was certainly eye-opening. To think that less than two decades ago we would take to the libraries in order to find books, encyclopaedias or use their computers (maybe with Encarta installed on them) to access information and broaden our horizons is ridiculous considering the technology and resources that we have at our disposal in this day and age. This old process is still practiced today, but with better resources, all in all it would probably take at least half an hour to even get to the library and then it’d perhaps take the same time, if not longer to find the exact source that would give us the information we require.
But today, we have all this information in our homes, in our pockets and in our hands that give us access to websites containing hordes and hordes of FREE information that is collaboratively updated in real-time, and make no mistake, out of all these sites, Wikipedia is bar far the most resourceful and phenomenal!
Wiki’s goal is simple, as Jimmy explained, the Wiki community do not want to only envision, but create a world where ‘everyone is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge’, and they are well on their way to making that vision become a reality as Wikipedia, currently in it’s 14th year of existence, has over 30 million users a month – currently positioning it as the 5th most visited site in the world, and the website has a blossoming community from every corner of the world, as the site has been translated into over 250 languages!
Moving onto the next keynote speaker, Liz Sprout, whose speech on the future of Educational Technology outlined the importance of it and why we need to change education for the better with the help of the technology we readily possess. Liz explained that information was all around us and with so many resources available to us in order to acquire and digest this information, we should not be restricted in the way which we are able to gain this information. In our development from childhood to adulthood, there are a mass array of skills we must develop such as creativity, problem-solving, communication and decision-making (amongst others) that are crucial and we must be able to explore through resources in order to find the best way to hone and enhance these skills.
We were shown some of Google’s current and latest products, many of which had a large focus on being used both in the classroom and at home. Liz strongly suggested that we need to change education from a one size fits all teaching method to a personalised one, whereby children can learn and develop their skills at their own pace and also move away from a fixed learning environment to learn where ever you are. By doing so, children are not restricted to a set plan that tells them when to learn, what to learn and who to learn with, they are able to make decisions of their own fruition and are able to develop and learn beyond the confines of the classroom. Google has many great apps that encourages personalised learning, wherever you are and a short video was shown to show the effects of implementing Google’s and many others ethos to learn with technology and the results were very positive!
The gadgets, games and ‘geeks’ were all out on the exhibition floor and we cannot stress enough how much of a truly amazing experience it was to be there, so if you’re interested in either education or technology, this is THE place to be. There was certainly something for everyone to be interested in with smartphone robots, physical robot companions and lots of educational, yet entertaining apps for children to learn and interact with.
One of these more impressive apps that we came across was the Magikids range of apps, which helps children to learn and develop their numeracy and literacy skills and with a cool karaoke feature (which kid wouldn’t want to the star of this show?) These apps had a fresh new spin on engaging with children, whilst helping to develop their skills at the same time. Another great product is My Romo, which is a fantastic smartphone companion (works through an App and Moving Dock base) that children can learn alongside and give instructions to, so the more they learn, the more commands they’ll be able to give Romo to execute, such as follow the line or fetch the ball.
With the Educational Technology sector booming and fast expanding right now, it’s no wonder why many of this year’s exhibitors have already signed up for BETT 2016, meaning that we can expect to see another great showing in a year’s time and bare witness to all the great developments within the industry as they happen and see what’s in store for the future of EduTech!One of best things about the show was that everyone was approachable and passionate about what they did and you could often find common interests with the exhibitors, but it was amazing how no one thing was exactly the same… From the start-ups to the established companies everyone had developed their own unique angle in order to help meet the growing demand for educational technology in homes and schools. These included providing solutions and resources to schools, teachers, students and parents, that help to reduce the skills gap and make the most out of the technology and information that surrounds us and enable us to grow alongside it accordingly.
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This post was written by Oomar Mauthoor