Yesterday was my first BETT (British Educational Technology something – and contrary to expectations I really enjoyed it. Participated in a couple of PRS demonstrations – one (Promethean) with a very simple handset for primary learners, and another with a more complex one (although now I come to think of it, the advantages escape me).

The most exciting part was the handhelds – bloke from Wild Data (Oxford Brookes spin-off) told me that as of the middle of last week, the government has committed to a handheld agenda. Hot off the production line were new Fuji-Siemens so-called EDAs – bouncy, unbreakable, distinctive handhelds which are only produced for the education market and feature voice-recorder, separate still and video cams, GPS, bluetooth and everything else you’d expect. He sent me down to the Handheld Learning stand and there I got to talk to 9/10 year olds Hannah, Chloe, Georgia and Tom from a school in Wolverhampton. They were intensely and spontaneously enthusiastic, and put at rest my qualms about loss, theft, breakage, data entry and usability. Basically, they really, really liked them. And only about half as much as did their head teacher to whom I talked afterwards. I couldn’t quite get a grasp of what they’re actually doing with them day-to-day, but Hannah said they’d changed everything.

OB bloke quoted some research about laptops creating barriers which made me wonder about the future of the laptop station I saw later on, but it was very well designed – wouldn’t shut unless all the laptops were properly connected to their serial ports (is there a maximum standard depth then?) and smart charging.

Saw various underwhelming objective testing tools and failed to get a T-shirt from cheeseslicer (didn’t really try that hard, just showed an interest and hoped to be offered).

Happened on David and Linda’s stand.

The National Archive web space is looking good, and the BFI’s Screenonline ( charts the history of UK cinema by genre and chronology including – for some films – scripts and clips.

Weirdly I didn’t get tired. I like Olympia and it was nice to walk to Marylebone afterwards through Kensington and look at the well-off and genteel through their un-netted windows.

All in all, I had the impression of sophisticated kit falling foul of unsophisticated approaches. Again I have to wonder about the extent this is due to my experience and position – a so-called, mis-named ‘learning technologist’, a so-called staff developer who hardly teaches and (in my current role) has never had responsibility for a programme, course or module, or even proper, accountable responsibility for a single learning objective. Why should somebody in this position be expected to have vision? I’m very close to naming my institution because it really needs to confront its own – yeah, why not – negligence. Negligence and squander (squander? Yeah, why not).


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