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BETT

In search of the ideal educational technology device for developing countries

Michael Trucano's picture

you have some important choices to make on which path to choose ...In two weeks I'll visit BETT, the London-based event which is sometimes referred to as the 'world's biggest educational technology trade show'. While I don't know if it is in fact the 'biggest' (ISTE's annual event is huge as well), nor how one calculates magnitude in such cases, there is no doubt that it is indeed really, really, really, big.

I attend BETT most years for a number of reasons. Doing so provides me with a chance to see all of the new cool gadgets and applications in one place. It is pretty easy to schedule meetings packed into a few days with lots of groups and people who are also at BETT; 'back home' it would take months to coordinate such meetings.

Conveniently, BETT takes place immediately after the Education World Forum, where scores of education ministers gather together each year to share experiences about challenges and successes related to education in their countries. This 'convenience' is actually no coincidence: Many ministerial delegations, especially those from middle and low income countries, stay on to tour the exhibition halls at BETT, to see the 'latest and greatest' and be (presumably in some cases) wined and dined by various vendors hoping to build relationships and do some business. While I skip the 'hospitality' stuff (not really my scene), I typically find it very educational to attach myself to, and rotate between, a few ministerial delegations each year as they tour the BETT exhibition spaces. Doing so offers me some exposure and insight into what such groups are interested (and not interested) in, and provides me with a 'fly-on-the-wall' view into the various sales pitches that are made to these sorts of government officials by companies eager to ring in the new year with some big contracts – as well as how such officials respond to such marketing.

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Just as I find the questions that educational officials ask of vendors when they tour the BETT exhibition spaces to be revealing in many ways, I am often intrigued by the related questions that many of these companies then pose to me.

As a result of my work at the World Bank helping to advise on issues at the intersection of technology use and education in middle- and low-income countries and emerging markets around the world, I am, for example, asked from time to time by companies sets of questions that can be summarized as follows:

What would be the 'ideal' educational technology device for use in schools,
and by teachers and students, in developing countries?

Mobile learning in developing countries in 2011: What's new, what's next?

Michael Trucano's picture

After finding out that I had visited the recent BETT show in London (billed as the world's largest educational technology trade show -- previous post here), a number of people who also attended asked me versions of the same query:

Where was all of the mobile (phone) learning?

What's happening with educational technology in 2011? A visit to BETT

Michael Trucano's picture

a new take on the traditional London phone boothThe annual BETT Show, which takes place every January in London, claims to be the "world's largest education technology exhibition and trade show", with over 600 exhibitors and 100 seminars. Those who visit it are typically overwhelmed by the vast scale of the exhibition space at London-Olympia, by the big crowds, and, for lack of a better term, all of the cool stuff.  As in past years, I was fortunate to be able to participate in the Education World Forum (EWF), an annual gathering of 60+ education ministers that occurs during the two days before BETT begins (the last morning of the Forum actually takes place at BETT itself), and so was able to stay on and tour the BETT exhibition space.  As in previous years, my goal was to visit every vendor and exhibitor.

In case it might be of any interest, and like I did back in 2009, I thought I would share some random impressions (ten of them, in fact) from this tour below:

What do we know about using mobile phones in education? (part 2)

Michael Trucano's picture

image courtesy kiwanja.netRecent posts to this blog about the use of mobile phones in education in developing countries have generated a *lot* of page views.  News earlier this year that firms in the United States are beginning to make a pitch for greater use of mobile phones in the education sector highlights the increased attention that this topic is now receiving in OECD member countries as well.

What's new, and what isn't: Observations from the BETT show (2009)

Michael Trucano's picture

stopping at Kensington Olympia to get a glimpse of the future | image attribution at bottomThe British Educational Training and Technology Show (BETT) bills itself as the world’s largest trade show of its kind.  This year’s show in London (14-17 January, www.bettshow.com) featured more than 600 distributors and over 30,000 visitors.

A visitor from abroad -- or at least this visitor -- is quickly struck by a number of products and services that appear to be specific to the UK market, or at least indicative of market needs in the UK that differ from other countries.  Two product areas notable in this regard are those addressing issues of cyberbullying and truancy.  These include products that allow schools to notify parents via text message (SMS) when their child is not in school and network monitoring tools designed to detect on-line communication that may indicate where bullying is occurring.