Monday, 27 January 2014

BETT2014 Highlights and heartbreak

It's Monday morning and my brain is buzzing after spending Saturday at BETT. I left my bag of swag (leaflets) at home, so will go through them later in the week and will post here again, but wanted to talk about some of my highlights.


There were lots of stalls with 3D Printers, but I thought Go 3D Print were the best, as they were friendly and honest and very approachable. I have been thinking about getting a MakerBot for a while but have not been swayed towards the smaller, cheaper Up Plus 2 3D printer. This comes in at £1349 or £1618 with VAT, and produces objects of the same quality as the larger MakerBot, but obviously at a smaller size. I don't see myself making any large items, so this does not mater at all to me!
Go Print 3D are not an educational firm, but part of a larger printer company - however they are moving more towards education and getting teachers to help them with lesson plans.

[I have a couple of ideas for units involving a 3D printer, including getting students to design a game, similar to Monopoly, but with our core values OR getting students to design buildings as part of a town planning unit]

Replay events bring old computers, from the 1980s, to classrooms, to teach students how to code, but also to give them an awareness of the history of computers and how technology is always changing. I thought this was rad and got very excited about it - apart from when they people on the stall suggested that I was brought up using these computers, and I had to tell them that "I am younger than I look." - which made everyone very embarrassed - (I was born in 1987, so not at primary/secondary in the 80s)

Speaking with Replay they told me that they do half day sessions with up to 30 students. I've since had a look at their site and they seem to do loads of cool sessions, including lots using games! I am going to find out prices for their visits and try and arrange one at my school, and will post details as soon as this happens!

WishTrac are the next people who got me excited. I met up with an ICT teacher from my old school and told him to take me to all the best stalls. WishTrac was a tiny little stall, a bit cluttered, so may not have stood out to a lot of people, but it was worth the visit! WishTrac were there to promote their Raspberry Pi kits...which were AWESOME. They had a whole range of kits starting from easy to difficult. These kits included making a traffic light, a buzzer kit and a quiz kit. They also have a CD rom with all the lesson plans, worksheets, presentations and other useful resources. The best thing is the kits start at £10.99!
I have just been awarded five Google Raspberry Pis for taking part in Hour of Code, so these kits will work perfectly alongside them!

I didn't manage to see many talks as I was only able to get to BETT for a short while on the Saturday. However I really liked Lanky Boi Ray's talk and have since become a bit obsessed with Touch Develop. He also spoke about taking students off the timetable for an appathon and think I may do something very similar at my school. At the moment I am teaching grade 8s to code and they will then teach teachers and parents. I am now thinking about getting them to design an afternoon where they whole school come off timetable and code! It is always great to see talks by educators who give you practical ideas and solutions. Next year I need to get to a lot more talks!
Ray has tons of resources for teachers - I have only just looked at a bit of his site and already have tons of things I can use in class! One of my students is doing a presentation on Touch Develop tomorrow and will be talking about some of Ray's resources!

I visited the Google stall to ask about the Google Apps Training and was happy to be told about a lot of changes to this. Google now have short, non-assessed courses, that educators and teachers can do online here. The courses cover everything from Google Drive to Digital Literacy. As I work in an iPad 1:1 school, where we have Google Apps and students use Gmail and Google Drive daily I am thrilled to see these changes.  I have been planning to get Google Certified soon and these lessons are a perfect training tool to get my ready for the tests! 

Uh Oh.

My only problem with some of the stalls at BETT was that they had really latched onto the idea that we need to promote STEM/coding to girls, but had done it in a really patronising way. It always baffles me why people have such low expectations of girls, who assume that they way to get girls involved is to talk about shoes and make-up!
The most disappointing experience of the weekend was going to Lego Education, which I thought would be my highlight. I went over to talk about MindStorms and other ways to use Lego, including using Lego Baseplates on the walls of my wall, but was shown the catalogue and was told almost straight away 'if you teach girls, you should buy this bundle with extra pink bricks'. I was actually really shocked that they said this and assumed that they thought I was a primary school teacher, (maybe as I was a young woman) and also that girls would simply want pink bricks. I felt a bit sick to be honest. I think I may have ranted at the person and started talking about how offensive the Lego Friends range is also...oh dear.

Apart from having my heart broken by Lego - the weekend was great.

You can also listen to the TES Ed Tech Special Podcast - where they interviewed people at BETT.