Gerald Haigh's regular column on leadership issues and information and communications technology (ICT) this week looks at:
EMAP's vision for BETT 2013 at ExCeL; How 'Community Connect 4' helps teachers and techs; iPads welcome everywhere; Avantis' healthy alternative to iPad – Flash content too; Oliver Quinlan on blurring the boundaries for learning at BETT TeachMeet.
It's all change for BETT 2013 but let's hear it for Frank's sarnies
Are you looking out for the first mention of BETT 2013? Well, here it is. As you probably already know, next year’s venue is ExCeL, the purpose-built exhibition and conference centre in London's Docklands, and at the end of BETT 2012, organisers EMAP shared some of their plans with press and exhibitors (see EMAP's virtual tour, below).
They are aiming to start off by occupying almost the whole of one half of ExCeL. This enormous venue is made up of two massive ground-floor exhibition spaces separated by a public "mall" full of places to eat and drink (conference facilities are on the first floor). The show lay-out EMAP shared included an in-the-round auditorium for up to 1,000 people for keynotes and presentations, and seminar spaces which are all integrated into the main floor of the show. Special needs will get its own area in the centre of the show between two exits for easiest access.
EMAP has ambitious plans to, ultimately, fill the space and it also hopes to co-locate related conferences on ExCeL's upper level. Watch this space.
'Community Connect 4' ramps up school networks
On the RM stand at BETT I found Darren Williams, network manager at The Abbey School in Reading who showed me RM’s Community Connect, now in version 4 (CC4). Network managers' roles have changed enormously in recent years and some have had to run hard to keep up. Last March we quoted Paul Hynes of the SSAT on the subject.
What they need is help in moving on from being reactive trouble-shooters to the point where they’re actively engaged in managing and supporting ICT for learning. Darren’s convinced that the latest version of Community Connect does that, by painlessly transferring basic operations – such as resetting passwords – into the hands of teachers while at the same giving the network manager real operational responsibility for the both the overall efficiency and the detailed user experience of the school’s IT infrastructure.
You can check his response in the Flip video I shot with him at BETT 2012 (below).
iPads welcome in 'bring your own' schools
A lot of iPad flourishing went on at BETT 2012. They were even (perish the thought) waved around on the Microsoft Stand by teachers and network managers wanting to bring iPads into line with other devices within their school networks.
And did these eager Apple enthusiasts encounter horror and disdain? Did secret trapdoors open beneath them? Well, no. As Mark Reynolds of Microsoft explains in a blog posting, there are lots of ways by which technologies such as Live@edu, SkyDrive and System Centre 2012 can contribute to a school’s move into a “Bring Your Own Device” environment.
Mark’s BYOD blog post
Avantis opens door to Android tablets and phones – content too
More evidence of the growing demand for affordable tablets for schools was demonstrated by the amount of interest shown at BETT in the Avantis LearnPad tablet, designed as a school-friendly Android alternative to the iPad. It is robust and inexpensive (20 LearnPads, 20 protective cases, 20 content packs and charging trolley for £6,749) but it's the web-based management system which has really turned heads.
If a school wants to tie the machine down and restrict access and content that's all doable – and quickly. A demonstration, on the Avantis BETT stand, of passing a QR code in front of the tablet's camera to reset the machine for a different use in an instant was dramatic and effective. (A massive range of education content currently excluded by the lack of Flash on the iPad, including Espresso, Education City and Sherston, can be accessed on LearnPads – and Avantis is also working with other hardware suppliers.)
The company was also talking about how students' mobile phones could be set to the school's network facilities as they entered the building and then return to personal status as they left.
Here's the link to an Avantis story already posted on this site.
Oliver shows trainee 'real world' connection at BETT TeachMeet
The annual Friday evening TeachMeet is a BETT highlight for its devotees. Oliver Quinlan, education lecturer at Plymouth University, confesses to having, in 2011, skipped BETT entirely, dashing down from Birmingham after school (he was a primary teacher at Robin Hood at the time) just to catch TeachMeet,
Oliver’s mission has always been to capture the child-centred philosophy and practice of the early years classroom and to extend it onwards, first to older children and now into higher education. So at TeachMeet this year, Oliver gave a fascinating explanation of the work he’s been doing to connect trainee teachers with ‘the real world of the profession’, sharing work online for students and qualified teachers to learn from. As he says, "…the lines between ‘professional’ and ‘student’, ‘expert’ and ‘learner’ need to become much more blurred…"
You can read Oliver’s blog, and see his presentation here. But take time to look at other areas of his blog, because it’s always excellent value.
Agent4change.net is proud to host Gerald Haigh’s ‘Five Things to Think About’ column which first appeared in The Times Educational Supplement and then online on the National College’s Future website. Its adoption has been made possible by support from Microsoft UK’s education team led by Tim Bush.
Artwork by Maia Terry