Bett is the industry show for education technology, bringing together 850+ companies, 100+ edtech start-ups and more than 34,000 attendees. Hosted at the Excel in London, Stephen Pyne and Tracey Webb took the opportunity to visit on 25 January.
Tablet Academy – Escape room
Fighting the queues, we managed to secure ourselves a slot in the popular Escape room. Working with a team of colleagues whom we’d never met before, we had to complete three quests and unlock three padlocks. The first involved navigating a virtual world on Minecraft to first find and then break the code. The second was a challenge involving the control of two robots; one by remote control and won by writing Scratch code (luckily we had a teacher proficient in this in our team!). And in the third room we solved the code by answering four questions in four virtual reality worlds. It was interesting to see the application of gaming and educational technology used in a real life scenario. The whole experience was a lot of fun and we were proud to be on the leader board as the 4th fastest team of the day 🙂
Engage (VR Education Holdings) is a virtual/augmented reality software company dedicated to transforming how educational content is delivered. They provide educators with the tools they need to create their own content using virtual classrooms or virtual training environments. In order to showcase the software Stephen was provided with a VR demo using the Oculus Rift. The scenario built into the demo was of an academic delivering the lecture in a virtual lecture theatre or fully immersive virtual world. The virtual world helped the academic bring the lecture to life and as a student in the scenario Stephen was able to see learning materials in 3D with sound with the potential for touch. It was not only fully immersive but also graphically stunning and the concept of delivering virtual lectures has so many opportunities and the scope here is endless. Engage are currently working with the Open University to improve the engagement and personalisation of distance learning courses and to reduce dropout rates.
Immersive Interactive create immersive classrooms and simulations to provide innovative learning spaces. They help clients create fully interactive 360 degree simulations in consecutive situations; from the road traffic accident through to the emergency room. Simulations are pre-planned using a timeline and students interact via touchscreen on the walls as well as using any equipment in the room without the need for any specialist wearable technology. Sounds, smells and other effects can also be added for realism. Their rooms are in use at St George’s University Hospital in the paramedic training department and they are also involved with the University of Plymouth. It was clear from the technology on offer at BETT that immersive technologies and simulations are becoming increasingly popular in both industry and education.
Enhancing student experience in higher education through feedback and assessment, Peter Collison
We attended a talk by Peter Collison of RM Results who gave a presentation on their digital student assessment and feedback solution FEATS (Feedback Engagement and Tracking system). He talked about the role of students as consumers of HE and the importance of feedback being delivered in a clear, fair, timely and helpful way. The tool collates feedback comments across sources, categorised within set themes, to provide a personalised dashboard for students embedded within their VLE. The process is self-directed and feedback comments are transposed by students into FEATS with the onus also on the student to create their own action plan. In principle, the concept of using technology to instigate students actioning their feedback is interesting but the reliance on getting students to engage could be problematic. The software is currently being piloted at the University of Surrey so it will be interesting to see where this goes.
Overall, it was an enjoyable day and great to see how the Bett show is expanding year on year. There were a plethora of suppliers vying for our attention and we managed to root out some that were providing educational software and hardware for the HE sector, but they were few and far between. The show offers a diverse selection of technologies but a lot of it was focused on primary and secondary education. However, it was really valuable to ‘future gaze’ and see the technologies that our students of the futures will be using. You can find out more about the Bett Show here:
Bett Show https://www.bettshow.com/
Engage (VR Education Holdings) https://immersivevreducation.com/
Immersive Interactive http://immersive.co.uk
RM Results – https://rmresults.co.uk/
St George’s University Hospital https://www.sgul.ac.uk/
Tablet Academy https://tablet-academy.com/
University of Plymouth https://www.plymouth.ac.uk
University of Surrey https://www.surrey.ac.uk/