BETTer believe it– EdTech trends at BETT 2020

Written by Luke Allsop

Bett 2020 saw four action packed days showcasing some of the education sector’s most exciting organisations. ExCeL London welcomed 800 leading companies, 103 EdTech start-ups and more than 34,000 attendees from across the education technology space. Mantis’ Lilian Smit and Luke Allsop were on the ground to scope out all things EdTech.

The show kicked off with a speech from education minister Chris Skidmore, who spoke about the significance of EdTech in raising the profile of UK education on a global scale, addressing the key component of the international education strategy released by predecessor Damian Hinds. The minister touched on tech that is making a real difference across the sector, from US company Turnitin that develops plagiarism software for assignments to universities like Nottingham Trent that analyse student wellbeing through their digital learning environment – identifying students who are facing learning struggles. There were some other big developments from the likes of tech giant Google, following in the footsteps of Turnitin they also launched a plagiarism detection service that integrates Google Search and Google Books through Google classroom.

Chris Skidmore also announced the appointment of three partner organisations to deliver the DfE’s EdTech Demonstrator Programme. The first being EdTech charity LGfL, currently working with over 95% of London schools to super charge their broadband and services. Followed by The Education Foundation, fronted by co-founder Ty Goddard who is well known for his commentary on the future of EdTech, and finally, the Sheffield Institute of Education at Sheffield Hallam University. The plan is part of the delivery of the EdTech Strategy in England which was announced in April 2019 with the objective to fine tune the technology in education and solve key challenges within the education sector.

Vendor spotlight – Stone

A big theme during the show was environmental sustainability, IT reseller and Mantis client Stone Group stood out from the crowd with a jungle inspired safari stand. Stone has been pushing to make cleaner, greener changes across the IT landscape for some time. Head of business development at Stone, John Halsam explained the companies eco efforts and addressed some of the biggest challenges facing EdTech this year with CRN’s Marian McHugh.

Stone’s pledge to recycle laptops and devices from UK businesses by rebuilding and refreshing the technology, is paying dividends for many UK schools. The tech can then be shipped out to schools around the country so they can receive the full benefits from the recycling and maintenance process, as well as contributing towards circular economy.

Virtual reality

It doesn’t come as a surprise that virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) were topic of conversation at the show. We all know that VR has the potential to revolutionise training and transform classroom learning but the real question is whether or not it’s essential to have the latest technology and does this put institutions at the forefront of the sector? CoSector’s, Director of Digital Services Dave Kenworthy, suggested to Times Higher Education that the sector should be investing in technology that will have greater influence and impact on student outcomes rather than immersive technology that is expensive.

Survey spotlight – Jisc

Not-for-profit organisation Jisc, announced the findings from their 2019 student and teaching staff survey – with input from over 100 organisations and 100,000 students and staff. The session revealed the issues students and teaching staff are experiencing with their use of technology, as well as recommendations for colleges and universities on how to support an excellent digital experience for all students.

The findings indicated that Further Education (FE) staff carried out fewer digital activities than HE staff in professional roles. So much so, that only 40% of FE and 21% of Higher Education (HE) had never analysed data. There is a lot of potential for the 21% of HE staff to grow within the sector and benefit from analysing student data.

Data analytics can be extremely useful for universities in helping to retain current students. It also provides a transparent view of each student and can help to identify those students that need additional support, ensuring that student happiness is a top priority.

It’s exciting to see such a buzz around the show, the Mantis team are very much looking forward to seeing these key themes discussed at Bett develop throughout 2020. There’s one thing for sure, we’ll be back next year to cover Bett and delve further into some of the amazing work our clients are doing.

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