Woohoo; BETT 2015 is well underway. But the question on every teacher’s lips is ‘how do we get the best out of BETT?’
In order to answer that question I interviewed Professor Carry Luban, who is Professor of Futurology at Chorley University. Professor Luban has been going to BETT since its beginnings in 1972 where it was just 3 blokes in corduroy sat around a table waiting for someone to invent a computer which was cheap enough to use in schools. Years on, Carry will be sharing her knowledge and expertise to help you get the most out of of BETT.
Travelling to BETT
MJP: So Professor Carry, let’s start with the basics, how would you advise teachers to get to the BETT show?
Professor Carry: Well most people will go on the docklands light railway from London out to the Excel centre, but this is the first mistake they will make. The journey from central London to the exhibition centre takes around 9 hours, with 227 stops en route, many of them at stations invented just to hold the train up, such as ‘Gorblimey Parade’ and ‘Citytwat Plaza’. The journey is so long that the train drivers all died of boredom and had to be replaced by souped-up Raspberry Pi’s.
A far better way of getting to BETT is via a time-travel enabled vehicle such as a modified De Lorean or one of the steampunk mash up things you get in a Jules Verne film. If you travel to BETT in a time machine, you won’t make the basic error of going to the 2015 show, instead you can go to the 2020 show, or even the 2030 one. Then you can be sure that you’ll be right on the (b)leading edge. You can return to school and wow them with tales of computers no larger than a button which project the screen direct into your brain and you control them by thought, with software so adaptive that it knows what you want to learn before you even know yourself and has taught you it as well, and even a Smartphone which can last all day without needing to be recharged.
Truly a vision of the classroom of tomorrow. Just remember to take £475 with you, in case you need to buy a sandwich.
What to wear at BETT
MJP: Many teachers will be scouring blogs like this for advice on what to wear whilst at the BETT show, what is your advice?
Professor Carry: My advice is to wear clothes. And if you can, wear your own clothes. Other people’s clothes may not fit; they may be too tight and chafe as you go round the show. Going naked to the BETT show is not a good idea as this means you won’t have any pockets to put your free pens in, you’ll get cold waiting for the train, and of course you will violate universally accepted human behaviour codes which state roughly that you shouldn’t go out in public in the nack.
MJP: So not a case of emperor’s new clothes then?
Professor Carry: I think we can leave the emperor’s new clothes meme for the stands…
MJP: And what should you wear on your feet?
Professor Carry: Shoes, definitely shoes. I once went to BETT wearing scooped out avocado shells on my feet and it just didn’t work. I was only just past the part where a surly blokes zaps your badge and they fell apart. On the plus side my feet were beautifully moisturised that year.
Get a GamePlan
MJP: So now to the most important part of the interview. The teachers have managed to find their way to BETT and are wearing clothes and shoes… what should they do next?
Professor Carry: The vital thing about BETT is to always have a gameplan. Just don’t go meandering around the hall expecting to get what you want, instead be ruthless and plan a strategy in advance. Remember if you are teacher then your aim is to collect as much free stuff as possible. Concentrate on pens. Get as many free pens as you can, remember it’ll be a year before you’re back, so stock up, go crazy. Fill your boots, or even your avocado shells. And once you have pens covered, concentrate on bags. Get as many bags as you can. If you go batshit crazy collecting bags then you’ll end up with so many you won’t be able to carry them. You’ll need to get a bag just to carry your bags, and then a bag to carry that bag..
MJP: What kinds of conversations should teachers have with people on the stands?
Professor Carry: What kind of idiot question is that? Carry’s first rule of BETT is never to speak to the stand staff. If you have to approach a stand for the purposes of swagging free stuff, then sidle up sideways like a teenager buying his first pack of condoms from the village barbers. Never make eye contact with the staff, and hide your badge inside your jacket. If an earnest young man with floppy hair wearing a printed T-shirt called Sebastian does manage to ask you a question, then just mumble something about ‘having no budget’ or if that fails speak in a Scandinavian accent and explain you have lost touch with your travelling companions from Helsinki. Remember stand staff are not there to explain the product to you, they are just a human barrier between you and the free stuff on the stands. If stuff gets too confusing then just head to an enormous stand for a company with a household name like Microsoft and hang about on that. After 15 minutes or so you may have no idea what Microsoft have to do with educational technology. But don’t worry about that, none of the stand staff do either.
MJP: But if teachers don’t talk to people on the stands, how will they share their insights back in school and make recommendations to SMT about where to spend the ICT budget?
Professor Carry: That’s easy, when you get back to school, spend a few minutes on Google looking up the products you were sent to BETT to find out about. All of the details will be on the website and you can request demos very easily. It’s almost like the BETT show wasn’t really needed in the first place.
MJP: What should headteachers and budget holders do at BETT?
Professor Carry: They should remember Carry’s first rule of BETT: ‘you are here to buy technology you don’t understand, at a price you can’t afford, to solve a problem your school does not have, and which your teachers will probably never use’. If you stick to this rule you can’t go far wrong.
MJP: I thought Carry’s first rule of BETT was never to speak to stand staff?
Professor Carry: whatever…
BETT trends this year
MJP: So what trends have you noticed at this year’s BETT show?
Professor Carry: good question, when I visited the 2015 show, 5 years ago I noticed a few important new trends. The first one was bags; bags are always big news at BETT, but this year there’s even more bags than usual. So bag yourself your bag, and then another one to put that bag in and so on. The second one is the concept of ‘device agnoticism’
MJP: ‘Device Agnosticism’ sounds very complicated, can you explain it in layman’s terms?
Professor Carry. Of course. Well being ‘agnostic’ is not really believing properly in something. Lots of technologies are only built for one particular platform or hardware. The technologies probably won’t work, but they only don’t work on a single platform. When a technology is ‘device agnostic’ that means you don’t believe it will work on any platform at all. This is obviously much better, instead of a technology not working on one thing, it doesn’t work on anything at all, and that must be progress,
MJP: Thank you Professor Carry for those wise words.
Professor Carry: no, thank you… by the way that pen you’re using, can I have it. It would fit just nicely in this bag.