Review of Bett 2013

Pete Johnson, our Head of Marketing, shares his thoughts about the recent Bett 2013 exhibition.

This year was my 14th year at Bett. I first went way back in the year 2000 as a customer when I used to teach 8 to 11 year olds the art of using technology whilst they also took part in activities such as abseiling, canoeing and archery. There were great opportunities for engaging  young people with education technology in the context of outdoor adventure activities. There was a lot of heart rate analysis, data collection, film making, animation and robotics, and lots of visiting schools grateful for the opportunity to take advantage of a then fantastic resource they couldn’t achieve at school.

I used to go to Bett in the hope of seeing something new and something relevant to help me achieve an ICT objective within the space of a 90 minutes session! I remember the first time, it felt like entering a bear pit as aisles of people fought for space and leaflets were pushed under noses. 

To a certain extent I have seen technology in education go round in cycles. A lot of what was being introduced back in the late 90s is being rediscovered and reinvented with greater confidence and much better technology! Twitter allows the teaching community to share ideas which was sadly lacking way back before social media took a grip on all our lives.

Since then I have joined the dark side and now see the other side of exhibitions. It involves a huge amount of organisation and considerable investment in time and money, but  the opportunity to meet teachers and their pupils that use or are interested in using the service we all work so hard on is invaluable.

This year, at a brand new venue, London ExCel, there were lots of hopes and quite a lot of fear about what a new venue might bring. Would people make the effort to travel further across London? They certainly seemed to, and we were all kept very busy talking to existing subscribers and people new to Our Code Crunch tool seemed to strike a chord with those teachers looking for a simple introduction to coding to use with their children.

We brought along our artists, trainers, producers, developers as well as our sales team. It was a really positive experience to have representation from the whole company.  The passion for what we do was evident and we hope this came across when talking to the many visitors to our stand.

The cross-functional team at Bett Show 2013

The international feel of the show was even more obvious as we welcomed visitors from all over the world, including the Middle East, Brazil, Denmark, China and Russia. Film crews seemed to be attracted to the orange glow of our stand and 5 interviews for a variety of international channels took place.

Here’s my good, bad and ugly of Bett 2013. Click each title to learn more:-

The good +

It was a joy to watch some pupils from a special school stop by the stand and have a go at a couple of our activities. The joy on their faces as they identified 3D objects was fantastic to see and gave a glimpse of what well-designed content can bring to support teaching and learning. 

The Learn Live areas, including a huge arena at the centre of the show, provided superb professional development opportunities with relevant celeb appearances from people like Brian Cox talking about Science in Schools (unlike Peter André at last year’s Education Show talking about himself), established speakers such as Tim Rylands, and academics such as Stephen Heppell.

The TeachMeet Bett 2013 certainly had a big buzz about it and from what I see on Twitter there are hopes and plans for something even grander in 2014. TeachMeets are a fantastic opportunity for teaching professional to share ideas, experiences, and best practice and we were pleased to sponsor the event at BETT this year.

You can watch videos from TeachMeet Bett 2013 here on YouTube. These are provided with kind permission of Drew Thomson (@mrthomnson).

The bad +

It certainly felt like there were fewer exhibitors with bigger spaces. The worry might be that smaller companies are priced out of displaying their work. It is very expensive to exhibit and as stand space gets larger and higher we shouldn’t forget that established companies such as started off as kitchen table projects not that long ago.  I hope that Bett doesn’t lose the character it once had and doesn’t become just another trade show for the corporate big boys.

I was also disappointed not to see Russell Prue and his Bett radio at the show this year. Russell brings an enthusiasm and a wealth of knowledge which should be celebrated alongside the other “names” who promote education technology.

The ugly +

The DLR being shut on Saturday was a real pain for people trying to make it to the ExCel arena but also for tired people on tired feet trying to get home to families after a long exhausting week.  The replacement bus services worked well, however, meaning delays were actually pretty minimal.

So that’s Bett for another year. Like a good meal, it takes an age to prepare and is finished in a flash. We’ve begun preparing for 2014 already and I’d welcome hearing from teachers who would be interested in presenting on our stand next year on how they make the most of

You can find me on Twitter @peter_porpoise or contact the team here.