1st February 2013

Afternoon blog from BETT ’13


This afternoon was about checking out some of the new hardware available, including the Surface Tablet. This tablet is quite impressive, particularly because it gives easy access to Microsoft Office. It is also rather nice looking, with rounded protective corners to prevent glass shattering, and USB and SD slots built in too. Connected to a school network, it is possible to prevent access to some of the apps, but still to give students opportunities to personalise the appearance. The person demonstrating reported that the teachers in his school were very happy with using their Surface tablets.


I also lost my heart to a tiny, but powerful range of Phillips projectors no larger than a cigarette packet - one would fit very nicely into my handbag for those unexpected presentations and photographic slideshows/filmshows. These projectors can be connected to a phone, or in the case of the most powerful one, to a USB stick containing the material to be presented - very nice.


This afternoon was an afternoon of impromptu and organised meetings. I met Ray Tedders and Gabriel Allen of BIFE and discussed the merits of Raspberry Pi; electronic signage; learning to build apps and intensification of teacher training in the use of ICT. 


I visited the Heppell.Net stand, and saw a truly inspiring presentation by Juliette Heppell  about the work of children in Lambton School. The children applied for, and received, a grant in the IDOL (I Dream of Learning) project to renovate the interior of a pre-fab to create a flexible learning space. The children (Years 7-10) reviewed research about designs for learning, which created successful learning environments. The resulting classroom housed 60 children, working with 2-3 teachers; includes white surfaces (walls and tables) for writing and brainstorming; astroturf flooring and seating; sofas; individual and group tables; a ‘no shoes’ rule (to facilitate the cleaners); colourful lighting; a skype area, and lots of happy children, whose scores have improved.  This presentation demonstrated the possibilites of working with children’s voices and with furniture designers in a creative way. This inspiring teacher also mentioned that embracing social networks has meant that members of the community who may not previously have been ionvolved or informed about the work in the school are now fully engaged.


After this, Wendy and I had a coffee with Chris Warren of Triptico, who described the development of Triptico, and encouraged us to get involved in supporting their further developments - this would be an interesting one to watch, and it would be nice to hear how our Champions and teachers using Triptico are getting on at the moment.


Next, we bumped into Kevin Lewis (Acting CEO of Wicklow VEC) and Donal Clissman (Shared Services Project).  We spent some time describing the SMartVET project to Kevin, and clarifying the objectives of the project.


We heard that Pat O’Mahony, of our partner, the IVEA was also in the rather large venue, but we were not successful tracing him.  Soon, our departure time came, and we headed back to Paddington on the now familiar Docklands Light Rail and London Underground, happy to have met so many kind and generous people during the visit.

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