Monday, February 04, 2013

#Bett13 The Excel London Docklands 2013

A week's worth of meetings crammed into three days in and around BETT13.  I liked the new venue for its space and for all the other presentations that were able to run simultaneously.
 Well done orgnanisers  for building an excellent programme around the exhibition area and reaching out to the right folks to populate the programme. I joined the Education Leaders Strand , The Workbased Learning Strand and the Higher Education Strand for different sessions and managed a couple of keynotes in the main learning arena. In past years I felt  guilty about buying tickets and not being able due to meetings to get to all the sessions I had booked.

The meeting rooms were also really useful I was able to grab a welcome cup of tea and a natter with colleagues from Mirandanet who were running an excellent programme . The British Computer Society and others had also booked some of the meeting rooms which meant we could do business on site. I was able to catch up with Adobe , Microsoft , Google , Oracle and many others and headed north with lots of ideas and business.

The bits I was not sure about were really down to me . I opted to stay over in Greenwich as the hotels were a bit cheaper than those around the Excel. This meant I was constantly worried that I would miss the last light rail train across the Thames. I think next time I will go for something on the north bank. It also took me some time to get my bearings to confidently navigate the light rail. The night of Bett Awards the line I needed was closed and I ended up stomping along under the tracks looking for a taxi.
I missed too my familiar bolt holes around Olympia where I can take folks for meetings without paying conference venue prices for coffee or lunch. I need to improve my east end knowledge.

It was really quite eye opening to spend time in this bit of London. It did really feel like a boom town rather than a city in a country climbing out or the worst recession since the 1930's . There seemed to be new developments going up all over the place. I am sure it will have made a very good impression on all of the international visitors to the event.

I looked really hard but I don't think there was anything startling new at this year's Bett - the event misses the ministerial input that Bett's of old used to have. But I think this is just a reflection of ICT feeling less of a priority for the current Westminster government. It is now about schools and learning institutions negotiating their own way through all of the offerings from the vendors. There were lots of 'new' systems that were really virtual learning environments with some elements of social software added. I think every third stand mentioned the word app somewhere. So not as much on policy or technology front as in previous years.

I think we still have an opportunity to present a much more joined up picture of all the good things that go on in Scottish Education at this event. It would be great if Education Scotland , SQA and Skills Development Scotland looked at having a stand at a future event. There are still too many speeches and sales pitches based on false claims of a UK Education system .. which are really only trying to sell bits of the English system to international customers and often bits that we do much better  in Scotland.


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