3D projectors are great. A half decent one costs less that £500. There was a time and a BETT when they were all the rage. Stall after stall after stall offered each and every classroom across the country the joyous prospect of having the kind of technology to create learning opportunities filled with awe and wonder. In the olden days 3D projectors weren’t £500.
Now while I’m definitely not saying that 3D projectors didn’t appear in any school or classroom, and I’m not saying that those that did appear didn’t transform the learning experiences of hundreds and thousands of pupils, but what I am saying is that since that particular BETT I haven’t seen a single one and indeed if there are any 3D projectors still out there they’re probably tucked away in those cupboards schools keep for storing IT equipment that no one is quite sure what to do with. They did that year however, fill a great deal of expensive floor space.
The year of the 3D projector was, for me, a day trip to BETT and while such trips are great, seeing new ideas and meeting people, they can be something of a whirlwind experience. This year I was at BETT from start to finish, so rather than a fleeting general impression, there was more opportunity to see and witness a full view.
What I did see, and my lasting view of the event, was not so much big technology, or even necessarily large companies like Google and Microsoft, though their stands seemed to permanently attracted large and attentive audiences, but two smaller and very energetic areas that attracted attention in similar but different ways.
The first was the BETT Futures section. A specific place for creative and innovative people to present their educational ideas to a wider audience. What a great concept. In the years to come some of BETT Future exhibitors will move successfully into the mainstream educational technology market. Maybe my own experience of being introduced to ToneTree and Pocket Lab at GSV Labs in sunny California very recently and then meeting up with them while they demonstrated their brilliant products at BETT, has influenced my view on just how important and valuable the Futures areas at BETT is.
In a sense my second choice has a similar theme of next generation in that it is about being creative and innovative and preparing for the future. The Maker Movement has its roots in arts and crafts and DIY but now with the idea of having and using technology in new and different ways. The Microbit, Raspberry Pi, Galileo, Arduino, cloud collaboration and sharing were all hugely successful aspects of this year’s BETT. Perhaps my favourite moment of the whole week was on Saturday. An older gentleman with a long grey beard stopped to chat with me at the Intel stand. From an old and scruffy plastic bag he pulled out a home made circuit board made with a wooden base and just about held together with bits of solder but it worked (he assured me) and was a TV remote control and he has been trying to develop this project with his local primary school. Why I didn’t photograph the man and his board I don’t know but for me, it summed up the idea of technology moving into the hands of the people and particularly pupils who are using it.
What I didn’t see at Bett were any 3D projectors…….but I did get the photograph!
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