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From The BETT Education Show

by Heather Nagey

Well, I'm finally back at my desk, after a crowded few days at the BETTs educational show, followed by a weeks holiday, (yes, they do occasionally unchain me from the desk and let me take a holiday).

I enjoyed attending the show immensely. This showcase for education is a great place to see what is happening now and the trends for the future of software in education. The huge variety of stands, displays and demos presented such a quantity of new contacts, new faces, and new ideas that it will take me weeks to follow up on everything!

Some of the more obvious trends that struck me were:

The huge growth in whiteboarding presentation software - this seems to be the modern equivalent of the teachers blackboard these days, and I took part in a fascinating presentation of this technology, (in which I was a walrus,) pressing interactive buttons to produce on the fly data which was instantly graphed into beautiful coloured results on the huge whiteboard interactive screen. This screen took us through The Owl and the Pussycat, asking questions, singing, allowing the presenter to drag sections of image around the screen, draw on it directly... I'd love to see Revolution developers working on this type of presentation software as it is clearly a potential growth area. Please do write in if you are already working in this area, we'd love to hear from you.

The widespread marketing of integrated learning "platforms" to teachers. Every second stand seemed to be proclaiming that their "all in one" solution was the best... This did raise some questions in my mind as to the benefit to teachers of being locked in to one branded technology for all their software, as well as making me look at where Revolution might contribute content to these platforms. I'd be interested to hear about any readers experiences with using this type of learning platform solution in a real life school setting.

I was somewhat astonished to be presented with the PSP as a potential teaching solution... although when you think about it I suppose since kids spend so much of their lives these days playing games it makes some kind of sense to try and use the platforms they find appealing. However, I do have questions about the size of the screen available! The concept of teaching through gaming however is clearly a strong one, and there was an entire stand devoted to teaching through Oblivion, (a major game in case any of you haven't heard of it). Again, there are opportunities here for Revolution programmers, to create neat, addictive and educational games - I've just spent half an hour playing Malte Brills new Drops game, which fulfils the neat and addictive criteria at least.

On a slightly non Revolution related topic, I was of course also interested in discussing our Ten Thumbs Typing Tutor while at the show, which once again raised a subject which I am rapidly becoming fanatical about. Did you know that touch typing and keyboarding skills are not part of the UK national curriculum? My personal feeling on this is that it is bordering on criminal not to teach our children this vital life skill. I discussed this at the stand representing the persons responsible for setting the national curriculum, and it appears that there is potential for feedback on this as parts of the curriculum are up for review this spring. If anyone reading this newsletter also feels strongly on this issue, the url to visit is to make your views known.

Another very interesting stand I discovered was that representing Teachers TV. This is an online TV station that screens programs of particular interest to teachers. I will be following up with the organisers to see whether we can run a tutorial session or series on the use of Revolution in teaching programming. Again, if any readers out there have suggestions on this topic, please do write in.

It was great to talk to so many people about software, programming, teaching and Revolution. I must extend my thanks to Eurotalk and the charming Steve Eatock who allowed me to use their stand as a meeting point, jumping off place and general work station.

I could see potential next year for a Revolution educational showcase stand, if you think you might have software suitable for such a show please do get in touch!

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