On the 20th of January, eight Digital Leaders, with Mr Barnes and Mr Cunniffe, went to visit BETT 2016 at the ExCel centre in London, an annual showcase for the latest in educational technology. A lot of well-known multinational companies, including Apple, Microsoft, Dell, Google, and Intel present their state-of-the-art products at the show.
The Digital Leaders’ mission was to find the most interesting and potentially useful software or hardware that would add value to learning at Oundle School. Not an easy task; we had a lot to choose from.
Some of the exhibitors’ products did seem to be shoe-horned into the education market rather than having been built for purpose. For instance, Microsoft’s brand new 84” touch screen with built-in computer was an impressive example of this, quoted at circa £18,000.
The most interesting products were often presented by smaller companies, for example, the revision app Gojimo. Some of the companies that the School is already working with also presented their new features, including iBoss, iSAMS, Firefly and Parents Reception Booking system.
This year BETT opened a new part of the exhibition called BETT Futures, designed to promote 30 educational start-ups, and bring them to a wider audience. In addition to the exhibition, there was a speakers’ programme where a lot of interesting speakers presented their thoughts on the use of IT in education. The most interesting were Mr Salman Khan, the founder of Khan Academy, and Dr Ellen Stofan, the chief scientist of NASA. BETT also provided a platform for politicians, the highlight being the Rt Hon Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Education.
It was fascinating to spend an afternoon immersed in this investment-hungry tech expose, and think about the services and products on offer from a different point of view. Each Digital Leader has been charged with writing a one-sheet report on a product they discovered at the exhibition. It will be interesting to see if any of the products identified by the Digital Leaders will become part of Oundle School’s developing digital ecosystem.
Nikita Belenkov (S)