Bett 2018 findings… Micro:Bits, VR and loads of people…

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to BETT18 yesterday, which greatly exceeding my expectations, as I have found in the last few years that the increased focus on selling hardware increasingly meaningless in the transfer to Computer Science.  Of course, the biggest enjoyment was meeting up with colleagues who I work with regularly, but the other standouts this year for me were the exciting additions for using the Micro:Bit and that high quality VR (and AR) that is becoming affordable for schools.   Lastly, the observation that BETT this year is more  for Internationals with slow moving people chatting in foreign languages and much more time than I have to spare, less for teachers and even less for students.

Talking of students, I immediately missed taking Digital Leaders on the way down.  I missed the train at Canning Row due to my ignorance – always before I have the students take care of the travel details.  I have started Digital Leaders again this week and look forward to working with Micro:Bits with them, a VR project, and plenty more coding opportunities.  DLs are vital in Y7,8 and 9 to raising interest in Computer Science and increasing numbers for GCSE and A-level, especially for girls.

Firstly – great colleagues.  A big shout out for Alan O’Donohoe managing to have the Exabytes stand centrally, and providing soft drinks, a sympathetic ear and seats for teachers.   I had a great converstion with Alan, James from Raspberry Pi Foundation and several fellow teachers – Dave Hartley and Phillipa Lewty –  about the look of possible training for CS teachers with that £80+ million in the budget.  Lets hope providers such as CAS and RPF get a say in using existing Master Teachers to teach teachers, and giving teachers a bespoke offering with choices of what they need.  I’m feeling more positive as a result.  Exabytes is a hub for useful contacts – Sway popped by; Jane Waite and Beverly Clarke who is running the AI KS3 project which I am doing with my Year 9s next term, and I met up with Simon Johnson on the Tablet Academy stand.

Second – A real boost that things are happening with the BBC Micro:Bit.  I will post a further article in the next few weeks, but I spent 2 hours catching up with lots of exciting additions to the Micro:Bit universe:

On The Micro:Bit stand – I recommend these two books:

…Simon Monk had some great kit:

…and there were some great Malaysian projects:

Sciencescope Ltd have some great new kits with each allowing you to make 3 projects out of pre-cut CAD designed wood:

Rapid – see the halo and their Scalextric simulation

Two great Chinese companies – Seeed: Grove and Boson

All of them have offered kits to show at the National Stem Centre’s  STEM  MICRO:BIT IN SECONDARY COMPUTING – 2 day bursary course – 23-24 May 2018 that I am leading in May.  My Digital Leaders will be busy making the kits in the next couple of months ready for display.

I was impressed with the upgrade to the BETT arena.  Having spoken with DLs there twice in the last 3 years it was more relaxing to listen to exciting VR developments with Google Expeditions and Lenovo headsets (pop to both stands to find out more – £500 headset / £300 stereoscopic camera / Releasing April).   The virtual skiing makes you feel a bit queasy…  I’m looking forward to a future AR project with my DLs.

Lastly, a small startup that has made a big impact with many teachers is Vocal Recall which is a new innovation in teaching technology that allows users to attach audio to pre-printed codes.  Get your free samples at BETT Futures P2.

Must plan work for my Y11s next period – please tweet any questions to @gr8ict