Once known as the British Educational Training and Technology Show, the Bett Show brings together over 40,000 educators from 120 countries plus over 700 education companies. The four-day event is dedicated to exploring the new technology, methods and ideas that are transforming education and ushering in a new age of smart, digital learning.
Bett 2016 (20-23 January) is hosting a wide array of exhibitors, from big companies like Intel and Microsoft to small app developers like DoodleMaths, an app that auto-adjusts its content based on the performance of the child using it.
Most teachers agree that access to tablets and learning apps have had the biggest impact on how today’s children absorb information and engage with curriculum subjects. But what will the future of education technology look like?
“I see a future where holograms will be popping up in the classroom,” says Renaldo Lawrence, e-Learning creator at Chiswick School, “allowing us to communicate with people from different countries and experience different cultures. For example, if your students are studying rainforests in geography, I think you will be able to bring it into the classroom via a multisensory hologram so that they are able to experience what it’s like to actually be in a rainforest.”
Affordable VR systems like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive releasing this year will ultimately enable students to explore digital worlds. Even Google Cardboard can deliver an immersive experience. As for holograms, Microsoft’s HoloLens has already demonstrated how Augmented Reality can blend reality and unreality to spectacular effect.
The only barrier is cost.
Not only will future classrooms take advantage of VR and AR technologies, but they will increasingly use applications that can automatically monitor, analyse and adjust to a student’s performance.
“Textbooks will be more dynamic and continuously adapting to each individual,” suggests Charlie Harrington, Director of Business Development at Knewton.com. “It may help to imagine something between the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and the Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer — adaptive, personalised, challenging, exciting, and just plain fun.”
Knewton.com is one such adaptive learning engine, capable of figuring out what a student knows and how they learn in order to provide the correct content at the right difficulty level. So rather than have a one-size-fits-all teaching structure, information can be packaged into uniquely personalised lessons appropriate to the ability level of every student.
This online focus is key. As Dave Smith, Computing and E-SafetyAdviser for Havering Education Services points out: “I think everything will be much more cloud-based [in the future], which lots of schools are already starting to get on-board with. We’ll get to a stage where it won’t matter so much about the device, it will be all about the simplicity of the platform and the richness of online content.”
Bett 2016 comes at education technology from all angles — Parents’ Evening Booking Software, anti-theft iPad cases, Bee-Bots, 3D printers, BBC micro:bits, not to mention the latest learning apps. To read more about the show, visit www.bettshow.com and see how Intel is getting involved here. — Dean Evans (@evansdp)