So nearly a month on from BETT and many great conversations have been had with people that we met for the first time at the show. I mentioned in my last blog that this year was my 14th year exhibiting at the education technology trade fair BETT. I value the event highly for many reasons – so I wasn’t pleased to read Sir Keven Collin’s article in the TES accusing the event of selling ‘wonders and snake oil without evidence’.
My experience is that the audience at BETT becomes ever more discerning and focused each year. Diligent teachers from around the world do a lot of research in a condensed short space of time away from the distractions at school. They are rightly looking for evidence that a solution or idea will help their school meet their specific needs in a highly cost-effective way – and they will be direct and challenging if they think you’re making things up; I so enjoy this as it leads to really engaging conversations about teaching and learning.
I do the same myself – I spend some time evaluating what’s on other exhibitors stands and will direct people visiting our stand to suppliers that may will meet their needs. For example, this year Parrot were showing their drone technology that can be programmed from Scratch and which from my past experience I know really engages and develops students’ interest in the subject. It’s now cheaper, polished and in my opinion could have some long term great opportunities for learning.
But don’t take my word for it – here are thoughts from my prospective customers and colleagues…
Sue Plant, Head of School at the John Taylor Free School which will be opening in September, – ‘as a first-time visitor to BETT I was absolutely overwhelmed with the opportunities for young people presented at the exhibition. At every point I was thinking what a difference technology can make to children and their learning. My team will be research focused and supported by a ‘coaching for success culture’.
Sean Warren, educationalist, mentor and trainer – ‘I’m not comfortable with sales but found myself proud to be associated with a product that had substance. My highlight was talking with two gentlemen from Brazil with my colleague Vitor translating. It was affirming to know our work has potential across the globe.’
Therese Hume, social media expert – ‘my best conversation was with a Swiss teacher who initially laughed at me and said his teachers would never buy into our solution. Then after further discussions about how they do observations, he became more and more interested!’
And finally, BETT would be nothing without the great teams who organise it. And I’d put the ONVU team at the top of the list – thanks to all my colleagues at ONVU for the massive effort in ensuring quality in everything that we did and continue to try to deliver. I hope the 300 plus schools that visited our stand and the many others that didn’t enjoyed their visits and have been able to progress their discoveries over the past few weeks and have started to make a real difference to the future of their teaching and learning.