A review of BETT 2012 and the five themes we took away and our favourite” top” exhibitors:
BETT In a word or three, busy, busy, busy, – there was no doubt that the two halls of London’s Olympia were thronging with delegates and buzzing with noise and atmosphere. Will BETT be able to fit in here in future years? Well no as BETT is on the move to The Excel Arena next year.
With an impressive range of exhibitors, many with even more impressive stands, BETT really is the event for ICT and education. The throng indicates a vibrant and very competitive market, seeing it all in 1 day is too tiring, we here at e-learning centre would recommend two 2/3 days to give you time to see everything without tiring yourself out!
Here at e-learningcentre.co.uk we have advised many companies on how to select the right e-learning and learning technologies, and since we started hosting the BECTA collection on our site we have had an increasing number of education establishments approach us. So we are interested in looking at how the corporate and education e-learning and learning technologies markets compare and contrast, and to offer our independent and impartial expertise to schools and educational establishments.
So what are the 5 themes that stood out for us at BETT 2012 read more here
1. The LMS comes to education!
As the Moodle VLE has moved from Education to corporate – (with a lot of excellent work by Kineo and Webanywhere) we had to smile when looking at a new generation education management information systems (MIS) for schools – Progresso from Serco or e1 from Pearson. To us these look very similar to the LMS’s provided for the corporate learning market, with a focus on management! Will we see the Corporate LMS vendors return the complement with the excellent Enable LMS from Virtual College or e2Trains very good LMS Kallidus being offered to schools? They do everything the new generation of school MIS’s do and more!
2. VLE’s and Learning Platforms are heading for “the Cloud”.
No doubt this is the big trend in both the corporate and education markets….. The Cloud! Hosted solutions with the platform vendors using Cloud services to offer fully managed services for schools. Flexible, future proof and cheaper, all in all a better solution!
3. Big push on 3D content
3D content was prominent and impressive, without doubt, as was the kit to really deliver on the 3D promise, but like the consumer market for 3D it hasn’t really got going…..yet. No doubt the price of 3D hardware will fall rapidly, as the consumer entertainment market develops, but what about the learning content? Till education content catches up with kit, studies are published to demonstrate the difference 3D content can make in learning and prices come down there will be too many other priorities for hard pressed schools to spend money on in our view. Our prediction for learning content is that 2012 will see a greater use of gaming and simulation (serious games) technologies in learning, as more and more studies and user feedback indicates they are now really delivering results.
4. Lots of libraries of learning resources
There is a bewildering amount of learning content provided by vendors for schools, with a noted emergence of open and free content. The issue for us is how teachers can confidently search and select materials (and rate them) from the vast array of vendor published content, open content and the Internet! The closed Eco systems offered by many content vendors will come under challenge, but when? We are intrigued by the US’s Learning Registry” for Digital Materialshttp://www.educause.edu/blog/jcummings/FederalLearningRegistryforDigi/241549 and we were unable to find vendors offering next generation learning content /resource management solutions. Giving teachers the ability to find trusted content that is peer rated in the overwhelming world of the internet and the associated Cloud based solutions is a key requirement for the future in our view.
5. No real presence of authoring tools for content creation
In comparison to the corporate events and exhibitions we attend such as Learning Technologies or Devlearn we noted a real absence to vendors offering tools for teachers to create engaging effective e-learning content. Many vendors offer the ability to create web pages, but there were no Articulates, Adobe’s, or even our current favourite the excellent Jackdaw exhibiting. Is it that teachers do not want to create new content or update those PowerPoints to interactive e-learning content? Many of the rapid tools have improved immeasurably in recent years, publishing in XML and allowing content to be delivered across Smartphones, Tablets and PC’s. The XML schema is key as this will allow the meta-tagging of content and its consequent “searchability” by teachers and students.
This is a vibrant exhibition with a mix of the massive to the minnows, not surprisingly the Google stand was very popular indeed, the Microsoft stand and theatre was also very busy – the Microsoft MC being very effective. There were a large number of whiteboard vendors demonstrating their wares. There was a noted increase of vendors offering ICT support to schools, no doubt seeking to fill the opportunity as more and more schools become independent entities! Getting both value and reliability (quality of service) from ICT investments in schools will become increasingly important, as budgets are under pressure and as we see the disaggregation of purchasing power from LEAs to schools. Will schools be able to form consortia or buying groups to ensure value for money?
Our principle focus on our tour round BETT was to look at Learning Platforms and Learning content
The Buzz words seemed to be “management” “performance” “attainment” “improvement” “collaboration” and “efficiency” – quite a different lexicon to “talent management”, “ time to competency” and “performance” that seemed to dominate the corporate learning market.
MIS appears to be a big category – with a seeming move to a new generation of education management systems or as we would call them learning management systems (LMS). VLEs or Learning Platforms still seemed to be very big categories and attracted a lot of interest. No doubt vendors in these two categories had a busy December preparing for BETT and submitting a huge tender to be on DfE’s new framework for MIS and Learning Platforms. Outside the “usual suspects” RM and Fronter, we noted Kite debuting, it was pleasing to see that Frog and Webanywhere were both very popular destinations for visitors. Newcomer eSchools appeared busy as well. Upstairs we noted Irish arrival Aladdin Vision with a very competitive offer and from Brooklyn, New York the very interesting NaMaYa.
And who were our favourite exhibitors? – in a rough and ready way we chose our favourites by assessing the Quality and relevance of the offer, assessing the individuals we spoke with and theirknowledge about and passion for the product and course in these difficult times the value for money we perceived as being offered and finally the supporting information and collateral and gave up to 5 marks per category 25, our focus was MIS and VLE’s and learning content, we did not seek to mark in any other categories.
1 YOUSRC – Super free software to teach real computer programming, how opportune is this? This is proper programming that links to C and Java – both still in real demand!
2 Webanywhere – Flying the flag for Moodle, which is just getting better and better, and offering a Managed Moodle service taking the risk out of Open Source solutions for schools and delivering value and quality of service by leveraging the Cloud.
3 Pearson Phoenix- the LMS comes to education with e 1, a really well thought through solution for the modern school, taking the best of the corporate LMS and evolving it intelligently for education.
4 RSC Education - The Royal society for Chemistry providing great free learning resources
5 I am Learning – Great engaging games based revision e-learning modules, great value to!
6 NaMaYa.com – “No Child Held Back” is the approach for this Open Source Joomla based learning platform from Brooklyn, NY, with a really innovative approach that includes fundraising modules for schools and a building communities modules….could be in demand?
7 Frog – Passionate and well informed people that believe technology can really make a difference in education
8 Aladdin Vision – this is value for money from this Irish based organisation, using the Cloud. Very neat.
9 eSchools – a nice looking solution for schools looking for a learning platform, with its integration of a parents and governors portal
So there you have our “unscientific” review of BETT, vibrant and varied.
Our message to the education world is the Cloud is going to change things dramatically, as when it comes to learning and learners the Cloud never forgets. Look for Smart Analytics that is going to help with pro- active decision making not just overload you with data and reports. Find solutions that will make the sheer number of resources out there on the net and in the Cloud manageable and meaningful. Consider Open Source very seriously as it is from this and with this that the “self organised groups” that will develop many of the Smart Analytics and Learning resource registries. Learn more…see what ADL is doing with project Tin Can or you can ask us here at www.e-learningcentre.co.uk.