Category Archives: BETT

image_pdfimage_print

No Show Bett?

Many assistive technology companies have already decided that the Bett Show is no longer on their radar but we are promised that Inclusion, Social Mobility and SEND will be one of six content themes for Bett 2020. So, is it worth a visit?

Jigsaw showing how the new elements of Bett fit together
new look Bett

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Held at ExCeL London every January, Bett was one of the key events in the technology calendar but in recent years there has been little evidence of disability and assistive technology exhibitors. There used to be a Special Needs Village and a Fringe but these have long gone. Critics feel that technology that levels the playing field for those with physical disabilities or offers extra support for those with dyslexia or helps people with mental health issues secure and continue in a job has been so ‘integrated’ into the show that it is now invisible.

So is it worth attending Bett 2020? Ieva Stuikyte said: ‘In 2019 we had over 180 SEN specialists attending Bett so for SEND companies in attendance this can be an effective way of getting in front of key influencers and decision-makers.’

At present there are several ways for companies to benefit from Bett:

  • Companies that choose not to exhibit at Bett this year can set-up meetings with relevant attendees via Connect@Bett, a facilitated meeting tool that can provide a cost-effective way of networking
  • BESA members who are new to Bett, or haven’t participated in the past two years, can join the BESA Pavilion where they can exhibit in a plug-and-play pod and speak in the workshop area each day of the show
  • All BESA members can benefit from a 5% discount on any stand at the show
  • EdTech start-ups can join Bett Futures, a start-up zone with plug-and-play stand options as well as peer networking and support in the months leading up to Bett

Networking and finding customers

  • Five solution zones at Bett 2020 to help attendees connect with relevant suppliers
  • SEND will feature in each of these zones
  • A Leaders’ programme to help buyers and decision-makers ‘find the solutions, ideas and contacts they need’
  • Two new Professional Development theatres offering free CPD to educators at all levels
  • Bett is partnering with the Global EdTech Start-Up Awards in 2020 and all start-ups and Bett Exhibitors can attend the awards in the Arena on the Thursday evening at no cost.
  • This could be a good networking opportunity.

 

Use this summer to teach children a new – and useful – skill

We are just coming to that time of the year when schools are planning holiday activities and their after school clubs for the Autumn term.

Now of course you want activities that are a bit more exciting than school curriculum subjects. Some schools opt for trips out, unusual sports, learning an instrument or a gardening club and I have been intrigued by stories of children learning the Glockenspiel, engaging in cheerleading and joining a Conundrum Club.

Often schools look for clubs as an antidote to technology promoting outdoor pursuits and a break from screen time. All good arguments but there is still a place for learning touch typing.

In the UK we don’t teach it in schools as part of the curriculum and yet it is an important skill for life – as important as learning to cook. Often the pundits claim that
digital natives need no instruction on basic computer skills, including keyboarding but this is not true. These students are using more digital media to make notes, do their homework and even take standardised tests so it is vital that they learn to use it efficiently.

There are different ways to teach touch typing but schools often choose learning online where the most popular programs are:
Touch-type Read and Spell https://www.readandspell.com/ an online-access typing course – Winner of the Education Resources Award – 2017, with 24 levels, each with 31 modules
Kaz https://kaz-type.com/ – shortlisted for the Bett Special Needs Award 2019 – an Accelerated Learning course that teaches the A to Z keys in just 90 minutes – using a multisensory approach that engages both sides of the brain – has the added benefit of a qualification, a City and Guilds badge too
Englishtype https://www.englishtype.com/ uses vocabulary content from the national literacy strategy word lists and follows key stages 1-3 of the national curriculum

The Three Rs are not enough!

Here is Allen Tsui’s account of using KAZ type in different schools. You can read the full case study on the KAZ site

I first encountered KAZ-Type in 2014 when working at a highly rated Independent
Preparatory School based in central London. The Head Teacher asked me to manage the school’s subscription as part of its computing curriculum.

The children I was working with at the time were very enthused by it, especially being able to challenge each other with their typing speeds. Many were also partly motivated by the fact that I had set them a personal challenge to exceed my typing speed.

The school I currently work for – Willow Brook Primary School Academy in East London, is an amazing school, recognised by the Mayor of London as being one of the top performing schools in London in school year 2018/19

Beyond the school timetable, Willow Brook also offers a wide programme of after school clubs which are free to all families to take up. I was hosting or facilitating KAZ after school club held on Friday afternoons. This was so well attended and over-subscribed, we had to hold two groups.

When Sal and Anna met Russell

Why do people pay £4000 for a stand at Bett and then have no idea what they are going to do there?

‘We’ll tell people about our products, they say’ but then you see them standing there looking a little anxious, clutching their expensive glossy brochures, willing people to stop and talk to them.

There has to be a better way and indeed there is as Anna Pedroza, owner of PR agency Anna Pedroza Communication, and I explained in our interview with Russell Prue. Click on the bar above the picture and have a listen,

Check out Anna’s blog :  https://pedrozacommunications.co.uk/blog/how-to-secure-pr-during-bett-2019/

Not just a pretty picture

An overview of a whole topic at a glance

Bett Award finalists Matchware offer top tips for introducing mind mapping into your school
Matchware (stand C142), a Bett Awards finalist in the Higher or Further Education Digital Services category, is looking forward to showing Bett visitors the latest version of their software MindView, the industry leader in mind mapping,

Often described as a visual thinking tool, MindView encourages learners and teachers to structure information in different ways so they can see the whole, the different parts and the connections in between.

It is well known that the visual approach of mind mapping can help the 10 to 15% of the population who have dyslexia or associated Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD), but it is also a wonderful tool for EAL students and those still to develop full fluency in English who will find that the visual representation of knowledge is so much easier for them to understand and recall.

To help schools and colleges not yet up to speed with mind mapping, Matchware’s manager David Kidd offers these top tips for introducing it into the classroom:
• Fire up your students: MindView is an excellent notetaking and idea generation tool classroom that encourages students to brainstorm and organise ideas for written documents and presentations. As a starting point choose a topic where students have prior knowledge or strong opinions and can collaborate.
• Think visual: Young people switch off if they are listening for too long. Mind maps often work better than linear presentation slides but for maximum effect incorporate pictures, colours, different fonts or text styles to make the ideas stand out.
• Expand and contract: Remind students that they need to crystallise their thoughts into a word or key phrase, a picture or symbol, a vital skill in an age where we are all overloaded with information. Then show them how to build on key words to create fuller accounts or more detailed work, gathering examples and evidence.
• Stretch the mind: Mind mapping helps us to gather, sort, structure and create in different ways. It also is a great aid to memory and learning. Once you have a fairly detailed mind map, switch off the screen and ask students to recall sections.
• Use MindView in the flipped classroom: It is often hard for students to evidence the work they have done before coming to the classroom and for students new to English it is a good way for them to process and interact with language and build their comprehension skills alongside curriculum learning.
• Try mind mapping as a planning tool: Teachers tell us that they use MindView to help with lesson planning, report writing and for curriculum planning, using the built in Gantt chart and Office integration. This gives them a clear visual overview of what needs to be covered.
• Make MindView a regular feature in the classroom: Mind mapping should not be a one-off. Plan to use it regularly for several weeks so it is seen as an accepted strategy in class and not as something special.

There are so many advantages to incorporating mind mapping into teaching and learning. Find out more from the MindView team on stand C142 at the Bett show https://www.matchware.com/mind-mapping-software

Ends

Press contact:
David Kidd
Matchware Ltd
T: 020 8439 8220
E: david.kidd@matchware.com

Making an impact with music technology

 

Music is no longer just about playing instruments or singing. Many careers now require  young people to be familiar with industry standard music technology and this is where so many schools fall down.

Not so Gable Hall in Essex, a performing arts school, part of the ORTU Federation, where almost every year group routinely uses the technology for composing, performing and recording.

This has paid off. As well as achieving academic success – a 100% pass rate in Music GCSE – students have gone on to greater glory with Louisa Johnson winning the X Factor in 2015 and Ruti Olajugbagbe winning The Voice UK in April 2018.

‘The profile of music and our students’ success is largely attributable to the excellent facilities. We try to get every year group to use the technology and get them doing sequencing and composing on the computer,’ said Faye Beamish Head of Music, Ortu Gable Hall. ‘It is really important that the technology is seamless so lessons run smoothly and the young people can just get on with making music.’

Their technology is supplied and managed by Counterpoint Ltd, and means that the students are building the skills they will need when working in professional recording studios in the future. It also gives the staff and students confidence: ‘When the music technology works in the classroom – put simply – we can then focus on what we do best,’ said Beamish.

As well as producing stars of tomorrow – or even today- Ortu Gable Hall runs a roadshow every year where the students go out and perform their best work in local schools putting into practice what they have learned in the classroom. This helps to build student confidence performing in front of large audiences.

They have been shortlisted in the Impact Award category of the BETT Awards 2019. See their video entry here – bettawards.com/impact-award-2019-finalists/

All this and Jo Brand too

The BETT awards are almost upon us and I can nearly get into my posh frock to join the glitterati at a new venue, the Brewery at the Barbican. This year we are in for a real treat as the awards will be announced by Jo Brand. Even if your company doesn’t win, you are assured of a good night out.jo2I have been looking down the list of finalists seeing who I would like to see win in some of the key categories. This is a purely subjective approach. I am not going to support anything which deals with assessment in any form as I now believe that this is just another way to cosh teachers, parents and children into submission and give them an inferiority complex.

There are many shortlisted products that I know and love. I am running two sessions on Audio Notetaker for dyslexia learners on the Sonocent stand C470 on Thursday at 1.30 and Friday at 2pm and they are on the list for the ICT Tools for Learning and Teaching section. I am of course familiar with all the products in the special needs category and I am delighted to see other old friends such as 2Simple, Twig’s TigTag, TextHelp and the Yes Programme.

But there are many products which I am less familiar with. Here is my top ten to look out for:
1. For early years one good choice would be Rising Stars Switched on ICT, a step by step approach to get young children using ICT in meaningful ways. I like Rising Stars and have written about some of their other products especially their e books.
2. I like the look of TTS Group’s Mini Mobile Phones: ‘Children will delight in developing their language using this set of 6 realistic mobile phones. Colour co-ordinated buttons make for easy use.’ This will at least stop children using their parents’ boring old iPhones. They have also been shortlisted for:
3. The NEW Ultimate Timer, a rechargeable stopwatch with a simple to use, lapsed time function. Anything which saves looking for batteries will be welcome in the classroom.
4. For primary I am going to opt for 3P Learning Reading Eggs a library with over 1,500 eBooks, for specific year groups, as an intervention/catch up tool and to support EAL and SEN requirements
5. Another good choice is Espresso Education – Espresso Coding that teaches students to code and make their own apps to share with their friends and parents. This will help children develop skills for their future working life which so much of the National Curriculum singularly fails to do.
6. For secondary I am going for English and Media Centre’s Arctic Adventure which works on ipads and has authentic video material, images and blogs from the Catlin Arctic Survey.
7. For ICT Tools for Teaching and Learning I like the idea of IGGY ,an online educational and social network for gifted 13-18 year olds from across the world with content for maths, science, history, politics, creative writing and life skills, and a safe environment for students to exchange ideas, debate and learn.
8. It’s a pity FlashSticks won’t be at BETT because the product looks excellent. It combines low tech post-it notes, foreign language vocabulary and smartphones. The notes are colour coded to help with gender recall (blue notes for masculine words, pink notes for feminine words) and a Free App channel means users can wave their smartphone or tablet over any note to call up a quick pronunciation video.
9. Visual Education’s Wordwall lets teachers make easy learning activities for interactive whiteboards. Apparently you pick a template, type in your content and with a few clicks you’re done. Alternatively pinch some ideas from their online community.
10. Finally I am on the look out for good maths resources this year so I am hoping that Jumpido will do the trick. It is billed as: ‘an exciting series of educational games for primary school. It combines natural body exercises with engaging math problems to make learning a truly enjoyable experience.’

If your product is in the running for an award, good luck. If not, then just enjoy the entertainment. I am sure Jo Brand will be very good value.

FREE Science unit for every UK school

Tell your friends. Sunflower is offering a FREE science pack to every single secondary school in the UK. Click here to register your school

Back before Christmas I had a very nice breakfast in Canary Wharf. It is not the sort of thing I usually do. In fact it was the only time I have breakfasted there but I was meeting Elizabeth Kelly, Director of Schools Operations. We were there to talk about the new science curriculum and the units they were producing for Sunflower for Science

Sunflower has animations for DNA, Natural Selection, Electromagnetic Spectrum, Chemical Reactions and Heat Transfer modules which many teachers enjoyed at Bett his year.

Obviously I was interested in the special needs angle but in fact Sunflower’s materials are differentiated so they cover everyone from young people struggling with basic concepts in science to those who are on the gifted and talented register and are aiming for University or a career in the sciences.

Atoms and ions, bonding, diffusion and the periodic table are just a few of the units for chemistry and many pupils will enjoy following the story of the carbs, fat and protein in a pizza. Every programme comes with worksheets activities, quizzes and sample lessons.

‘One of the key features of Sunflower Science,’ Elizabeth told me, ‘is to make sure that teachers can deliver modules in scientific subjects outside their own specialism.’

Schools can buy one module at a time, ideal for those on a tight budget, but why not start with your freebie?

Shout Out for Voices

I have always loathed the voices on speech synthesis. I know disabled kids who think it is a laugh to sound like a Dalek but I think it’s sad and particularly depressing for adults who might have all their materials for a degree course read out in a robotic voice. But voices are getting better and I have two good news stories

First JISC TechDis commissioned CereProc to create Jack and Jess, two new high-quality voices that can be used with text-to-speech tools. The big story is TechDis has managed to obtain a wonderful licensing agreement so that all staff and learners in publicly funded post-16 education in England should be eligible to download the voices free of charge.

That means that if you are studying in Adult & Community Learning; Further Education; Higher Education; Offender Learning; Sixth Form Colleges; Specialist Colleges; UK Online Centres; Voluntary Sector; and Work-based Learning you won’t pay a penny. Ask at your education centre or college now.

Alistair McNaught, Senior Adviser at JISC TechDis is excited about the prospect of real voices for the estimated 4.5 learners out there who could benefit. ‘Now hundreds of thousands of print impaired learners have a decent voice to listen to while they are studying and won’t be embarrassed if they want to access talking materials while they are out walking or doing household chores. The stigma about using such software tools vanishes. This will have a massive impact on their productivity and confidence.’
Click here for more information

Voices for children
It’s not just adult voices which are improving. Rosie and Harry were shortlisted for the BETT ICT Special Educational Needs Solutions 2013. 74,000 children and teens in England cannot speak for themselves and need a voice for their assistive technology. Rosie and Harry are the first English voices for children. Acapela Group and AssistiveWare best known for former BETT winner Proloquo2Go have pioneered the development of these voices which in time will become available in other products too.

Harry sounds pretty normal but Rosie is definitely Home Counties which means girls will sound more like Hermione from Harry Potter than Lisa Simpson. More news here.

Anna Reeves, National AAC Coordinator for England
Anna Reeves, National AAC Coordinator for England

Anna Reeves, National AAC Coordinator for England said, ‘These new voices will further transform the lives of children who cannot speak and the lives of those around them. It may be the very first time that families hear their own children speak with a child’s voice – you can’t put a price on that.’

Caroline Wright, BESA and the House of Lords

Caroline Wright of BESA
Caroline Wright of BESA

Tonight I am meeting Caroline Wright face to face. I interviewed her for Merlin John Online 
We have emailed and talked on the phone so much that I feel as if I know her quite well but in fact we met just once – very briefly – at the farewell do for Ray Barker.

Caroline is not the new Ray. Nor is she a replacement. One thing I have learnt is that as the new director at BESA Caroline will put her own stamp on the organisation. She has a formidable pedigree with extensive overseas experience which will be of great benefit to the UK software community but she also has great charm

Most importantly she has a very clear set of values: ‘Education matters and is always likely to be featured in the first few pages of a newspaper because it is relevant to most of the population. We have all had an education and we nearly all know someone who is having one now. The role as a director at BESA ticks every box for me. I love education and this job lets me be part of a team and puts me back at the heart of strategy and delivery.’

Tonught I shall enjoy being BESA’s guest at their annual House of Lords reception.

Ray Barker retires from BESA

Last night was the end of an era for the British educational software industry as Ray Barker, director of BESA, retired.

Ray worked as a teacher, a multimedia publisher and ran an Education Action Zone before joining BESA. He was chair of judges for the BETT awards and was a regular commentator on changes in government legislation which affected the purchasing power of schools.

There are many ‘experts’ in the educational software industry but Ray really knew his stuff. He was a great networker, very pragmatic and found ways of making things work, often against the odds. He was a good friend to the special needs community. He had a particular interest in literacy and was keen to see a division of spoils which gave everyone a more equal chance. He was a very talented political animal and will be much missed. His successor at BESA is Caroline Wright who has a wealth of experience in government departments as well as in the public and private sector.

At his farewell do at the City of London Club, many representatives from the press, software companies, schools and key educational organisations turned out to wish him well.

Pictured here from left to right are are Ann Crick, Sal McKeown, John Crick (Crick software), Ray Barker, Mick Archer (former editor of Special Children magazine), John Galloway (journalist and adviser in Tower Hamlets), Carol Allen (special needs adviser for North Tyneside) and Amanda Peck from Mayer Johnson software