My BETT13

This image is from the DLR platform as the police swooped in to fix something:

Taken on iPad mini through glass in the dark
Taken on iPad mini through glass in the dark

It was a really productive day attending BETT 2013. The main stand I spent time at was Frog. They pushed the boat out on advertising and PR this year, having graduated from a tech company with a market edge to a big player following the award of the Malaysia contract: some six million users representing every school in the country and their parents. This provides power; who doesn’t want a piece of 6 million users?

It probably took a total of two hours of interrogation – ask @4goggas, I am thorough – to see all there was to see and ask all I needed to ask about the incorporation of Frog4OS into our existing Frog3 installation. More detail about that later. Suffice to say that Frog4 is slick and similar to Google Apps in site creation and forms and contacts. All good if the integration of the entirely separate sister platforms work. Gareth Davies, the MD of Frog, said to consider Frog3 a content management system within Frog4. I got a little concerned when their demo of a Frog3 page hosted in Frog4 required a new login. Clearly it’s earlier days than I had anticipated.

Back to my BETT experience. I felt a little out of touch with the many many exhibitors proffering their wares. So many new companies trying to get a foothold on the education silver. A lot of 1:1 computing solutions and hardware accessories such as charging carts. Many iterations of similar software that cloudify the content with HTML5 tools which generally replicate the higher end functionality of ActivInspire or SMART notebooks. Curriculum mapped solutions that deliver video or games, sometimes with quizzes on the content to follow. Steve Margetts wrote about his [window] shopping trip here.

One of the things that caught my eye was I Am Learning. Frog have bought them and, for the best part of £6000.00, my school could buy their quizzes (similar to classtools.net flash content with games to play if MCQs are correctly answered) for key stages 1 through to 4 for two years, with SSO through Frog and a bit of front end integration that appealls. My temptation here is to provide my teachers with a plethora of MCQs mapped to their content that can be easily set as assignments in Frog. As these quizzes are self-marking, this in turn could ease the burden of collecting books and marking homework for very busy teachers. Once workload is lightened, the CPD drive of the school could be providing the best lessons we can, which by their nature would incorporate quality feedback for every pupil [aside: to be outstanding you have to give feedback, don’t you?]. Sound good? In theory maybe, but the practice would bring many challenges we would have to address. However, the underlying aim is not to implement top down technology, but to champion great lessons with quality feedback. If this is your mantra, not much can go wrong.

A friend put a spanner in the works though. They had trialled iamlearning and found it light on content for KS3 History. The friend was referred to the community created quizzes but this, for me, was not an acceptable answer. I would rather the company tested the community quizzes and, when one was uploaded of sufficient quality, they would pay the teacher for their hard work (or reduce the annual cost of the service) and incorporate that quiz into their commercial offering. I am not in a position to pay a big chunk of school cash for something that does not deliver across the curriculum at KS3!

Other than this, and a few other trinket tours, the major highlights of my visit to BETT were meeting my friends who work in a similar vein of education to me. They know who they are! However, some new faces were a lovely surprise: Adrian Bantin and Mark Shelton over a pint, and I had coffee with TV tech legend Kate Russell who cohosted the BETT TeachMeet with Ian Usher, who bought the coffee. Kate won’t remember me in the morning (sigh) but the laughter that flowed with the two Frog related gents (one now working for GroupCall, who are the data sharing engine behind many MIS and VLE products), highlighted what these events are really about. And it was great to see the ambitious work of David Rogers and their BYOD on mobile phones policy.

BETT at Excel? Worked for me. No more irritating staircases that disorient you multiple times a day.

My BETT13

2 thoughts on “My BETT13

  1. stevemargetts says:

    I am also worried about Frog OS – think I will leave to our digital leaders to figure that one out initially. I won’t be rushing in. I have used the free http://www.yacapaca.com/ a great deal for online tests. Lots of great quizzes created by teachers. Again a patchy coverage for the whole KS3 curriculum, but it doesn’t stick in the throat so much when you’re not paying…

    1. daibarnes says:

      Thanks Steve. I’m familiar with yacapaca but never really tried it other than with some A Level students who needed a break from the grind of revision. Free does make it all much more palatable. I’m not a great fan of such services for my own classroom but I know a fair few teachers who do like them and the thumbnail strategy outlined in my post is a possible winner. iamlearning should be useful because of the Frog integration, so it fits with our ecosystem, but if it’s missing basic stuff then I lose confidence in recommending a big spend.

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