3000 badges. 28 new GameUp UK titles. 4 days. 2 apps.
It must be the BETT Show 2013.
BETT was held in the ExCel center this year. As BETT had been held in Olympia for the last several million years we were regularly asked by visitors and exhibitors alike on our thoughts on the new venue.
For the record we felt the new space was much more conducive to exhibiting. Even finding your way around the grid system seemed easier, although you’d have to be prepared to get sore feet as it apparently contains the longest corridor in Europe. But, still, we wistfully mentioned that an enclosed aircraft hangar sized room can’t compete with the iron framed 19th century industrial beauty of Olympia.
But no doubting it, BETT had stepped up a gear. So did we.
The BIG news was the public launch of our new games based learning section – GameUp UK – to what can only be described as a rapturous reception. Aligning our resources with high quality learning games clearly struck a chord with teachers and students and the IWB was packed all day every day with people trying, no, playing, our games. GameUp adds a whole new dimension to BrainPOP, one we’ll be exploring in more depth this year.
“My digital leaders had a go on “Guts and Bolts” which links with biology, and they LOVED it. Back in class the following day they asked if they could share the GAME UP side of BrainPOP and I thought why not – an hour later they were refusing to leave the class room because they had “One more level to go” and they couldn’t possibly leave yet!! The most amazing thing was the vocabulary the children were using – I heard phrases like “the oxygen needs to get to the brain so the pipe has to go from the lungs where it gets it oxygen from”. Having never taught them this I was amazed at how quickly they had picked up the vocabulary and I will definitely be exploring the other games on the site!”
Charlie Deane, Year 5 teacher
We also debuted our new free Android app, which means we are all systems go on BYOD. Not only did nearly every visiting teacher own their own smartphone or tablet they often mentioned how their school was either piloting or using class sets of mobile devices. It’s clearly moved beyond a tech trend to something much more significant.
We were privileged to welcome an amazing set of educators to our stand, both as VIBs and presenters. We’d like to thank, in no particular order:
- Tim Handley & his digital leaders who gave a very professional presentation on how they use BrainPOP in school. We were also seriously impressed at some of the Moby badge collections.
- Charlie Addison, Ian Addison, Dawn Hallybone & Ben Wood - VIBs who gave their valuable time to talk to teachers interested in BrainPOP. You complete us.
- Chris Green, Director of Blended Learning at Manga High, who demoed the fantastic trio of “A Tangled Web“, “Pyramid Panic” & “Flower Power” maths games from GameUp UK.
- Danny Nicholson who presented “Now go write it up: Digital Storytelling tools” – a tour of free tools to enhance literacy. Awesome, informative and generous as ever. See the tools he mentioned on his blog.
- Lizzie Ostrom who presented “Stinky Poems and other whiffy learning: using smell in Key Stage 2 learning”. This was our first ever “non-techie” presentation we’ve ever hosted and it was brilliant. You should check her “Marty the Mighty Nose” website out.
- Gavin Smart and the Digital Leaders from Priory Community School who presented “How we use iPads and apps in our lessons to enhance the learning environment, demonstrating progress and sharing their work with the world”. They’re doing some exceptional mobile learning work at Priory school, make sure you take 5 mins to watch their amazing Prezi.
- Phil Bagge who presented “Robot Sandwich Maker KS2 CS”, a starter’s guide to computer science at primary level. Taking a potentially complex topic like this and making it engaging for young learners is clearly Phil’s forte. Learn more on his Junior Computer Science blog.
- Kirsty Tonks and her E Learning Team – “Using BrainPOP in Tutor time”. Kirsty showed how introducing BrainPOP resources to her tutor time increased attendance by 70%. What a stunning result.
So what trends did we notice this year?
- Flipped classrooms – a significant minority of teachers were looking for resources to compliment this new teaching approach. BrainPOP was on their radar as our videos can easily be used for independent exploration at home (with assessment for accountability) and then developed further in the classroom. For a practical intro to using BrainPOP as part of a flipped classroom see this great blog post.
- Mobile learning – as mentioned earlier nearly every teacher had a smart device, both personally and at school too. We make apps so this might have been a self selecting group but you could see that many suppliers were also tackling the mobile space, with apps or mobile solutions.
- Academies and Free schools – with nearly half of all secondaries now Academies and primary conversions on the rise it wasn’t too surprising that we spoke to an increased number of headteachers from these school types. What was interesting was that they seemed genuinely interested in sourcing new ideas, products & systems. Like they were taking the opportunity to start from fresh. Old with the old, in with the new.
- Everyone wanted a photo with Moby If you got a pic with Moby please share it with us!
Edubloggers often voice that it’s the “same old, same old” at BETT. While not a totally unfounded criticism this year there was noticeably significant growth in teacher led presentations & workshops, TM Takeovers, the famous BETT TeachMeet and much more. Educators and kids sharing some incredible classroom practice.
BETT has to be about more than the product and is clearly working towards delivering a rich CPD experience for the visitors, as are the exhibitors themselves. Roll on BETT 2014 we say, and the ability to share more great stories with our audience.