Top 5 thoughts from BETT 2015

Another year, another BETT show. After a busy day following up on my networking down there I put some time aside to get my thoughts in order. For anyone who's attended you'll know what I mean. There's so much to see, do, collect and listen to you can often come back with too much new information. This is what I took from the event.

1. LearnPad should be on everyone's radar

I've heard a lot about this £99 tablet through working with primary schools. I didn't hold out much hope, placing it in the category of the Tesco Hudl rather than a viable education tool, but having seen it and got hands on I'm very impressed. I don't think it's applicable to the secondary school market yet, but as far as primary goes I think it's a definite consideration to replace laptops/netbooks instantly. The fact they only sell direct is another big plus in my opinion, there's no sales companies hiking up the price and over selling it's capabilities.

2. Apple missed a big opportunity

The Apple Solution Expert Village wasn't engaging. Building the stand in the style of an Apple Store was a bad decision I think. I don't know any educators who aren't aware of Apple's products for their institutes, but what people don't know is what is possible with them. There's plenty of evidence and case studies that outline the benefits of iPad in the curriculum but bar a handful of talks from Hove Park and some select speakers in the theatre they didn't explore that enough. They didn't need a show room at the show, they needed to share their evidence of school improvements with iPad.

3. Google will see huge growth in education

Everything seems to have nicely fallen into place for Google Apps for Education in the last 6 months and Google Classroom is the cherry on the cake. Now there is a tangible benefit to actively switching to the Google ecosystem, and I think schools will do that in droves. Their Chromebook range has really come into it's own too, with some great hardware from Toshiba and Samsung on show. In terms of costs and functionality there's no real case for PC laptops any longer in the classroom. Chromebooks are not only cheaper, but through Google Apps for Edu, open up a wealth of possibilities that wasn't possible before.

4. The new battleground is in data

It was always IWB and short throw projector companies battling it out year on year at BETT. Unbelievably they were still there (I do not know why anyone is still buying IWBs!) but it was clear the new battleground is in data. With the proliferation of devices there's a clear market for tracking data on them. From SIMS to homework tracking, there's dozens of platforms to choose from. My two personal favourites from the show that I'd highly recommend to check out where Showbie and Show My Homework, both time saving for teachers, but both importantly improving the feedback process with students.

5. Schools need to evidence results

There's loads of educators running talks, seminars and hosted spots on supplier stands. The majority evangelise about a certain technology or product. It bores me to hear so few facts and figures. Hove Park School were a perfect example of doing this right. They surveyed students before and after their iPad project to get real feedback. The answers were overwhelmingly positive. That's no different than anyone else evangelising, but what is was the demonstration of evidence to back it up. Teachers bang on to students all day long about evidencing to support their points/arguments, yet teachers then get up on stage and start evangelising to the masses about something they've done which has had great results. Their evidence usually consists of little more than "students were more engaged." Well how and why were they more engaged?

Overall another very interest few days. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on the show, and whether you agree or disagree with anything I've put down here.

Jay Ashcroft

Entrepreneur. Author. Speaker. Cofounder of LearnMaker