What’s hot, what’s not – and a bit of good news.
The CLC hosted an event for NAACE at the beginning of December which, fortuitously, included a presentation from the organisers of the BETT show on their top tips for a successful BETT visit. Comfy shoes, a plan for the day and a bottle of water were the top three so we heeded their advice and six members of the CLC team visited the show over the course of the four days – in our comfy shoes, with a plan and a bottle of water each.
In terms of equipment, our focus was to look at projection options for schools, 3D printers, robots for KS1,2&3 and tablets/touch screen computers whilst also taking in one or two of the presentations.
On the Robot front
Last year, the big news was Lego’s launch of the new EV3 robot. It was hard to find any other competitors to Lego and its range of programmable robots. This year, however, there were more options on offer which is great news, as the cost of the EV3 – £299 per robot – makes them prohibitively expensive for some schools.
These robots, which come with infrared sensors, lights and a bi-directional motor, can be programmed using the specially developed Engino programming language. The devices are powered by 32-bit ARM Cortex-M2 micro-controllers and have 256KB of flash memory and 64KB RAM. Functionality is similar to the NXT but prices come in at a very competitive £199 for the basic model and £220 for the WiFi model.
These compact robots have a variety of sensors including light, sound and infrared. They can be programmed using the flowchart based ‘Mowayworld’ software although other software can be used, including Scratch. Various expansion kits can be bought to extend functionality including a wifi board and camera board. Moway robots begin at £149 with various packages and offers available.
There were few if any 3D printer at BETT last year. This year’s show featured lots. It’s the tech of the moment and as such, prices are likely to become more and more competitive over time. Our favourite of the bunch at BETT was the Up Plus 2 printer from Go print http://www.goprint3d.co.uk/store/category/1/product/pptupplus2w-u1.aspx (£1349 ex VAT).
It’s a compact, robust model with automatic calibration. It’s certainly an exciting technology particularly for the teaching of STEM subjects but as prices are likely to come down over time it may be worth holding fire a while before making the leap into 3D Printing.
Tablet computers were ubiquitous at BETT this year, however, Apple were conspicuous only through their absence. iPads are dominating the schools’ market but there is strong and worthy competition from the likes of eg LearnPads which are priced very competitively, are compatible with Flash and are much easier to manage than the more favoured iPad.
Another option in the tablet market was the Einstein Tablet+. Made by Fourier Education. The tablet is science-focused, meaning it has all of the sensors built-in which capture data. This tablet reminds us of the Globilab Labdisc which we discovered at Bett last year, except rather than have the app seperate to the sensor, it is an all-in-one device. Worth a look if you’re looking for datalogging software, albeit slightly on the pricier side, you do have the advantage of one device capturing a range of data with sensors built-in, such as Humidity, Heart Rate, Temperature, Light, UV, Microphone, Accelerometer and GPS. It also has a front and back facing camera, so your students can take photos and document as they go along.
The new direction for interactive displays, is interactivity without the need for a screen.
The concept is based on the work of UBI Interactive – UBI was the first organisation to come up with the smart implementation of the idea that you don’t really need an interactive whiteboard to get an interactive screen as there are other ways of detecting the touch input on any surface. There are now quite a few new products which build on this concept including projectors with built in sensors that detect movement and distance of objects (for example your fingers which replace the IWB pens), or the huge selection of touch sensitive screens that allow you to forget about the projector bulb replacement, or cleaning the filters.
Over the past few years the CLC has been supporting schools in adopting Google Apps for Education and has recently set up GAFE for the CfBT Schools Trust to support school to school collaboration. The Google stand was therefore an essential destination. Marc Ramos, Global Lead, Enterprise EDU Learning Programs at Google introduced the new google training materials at 3 levels of engagement.Carrie Anne Philbin, showed how she uses You tube in the classroom.
and on the presentation front… a couple of us arrived early for a talk by David Mitchell (@deputymitchell) on blogging and literacy. The room was packed with standing room only but sadly, David Mitchell, was elsewhere and a disappointed audience were told that the session was cancelled. At the point of mass exodus, Sarah Horrocks, stepped in with her google presentation at hand and asked the organisers if they’d like her (a random member of the audience) to talk on the subject instead. They said they would – so she did – and the fantastic blogging work going on in Lambeth’s schools was given yet more profile to wide acclaim. The talk generated much interest from the audience with several audience members requesting more information including a headteacher from Denmark. Here’s to Brixton/Copenhagen links in 2014-15
Exciting news for the CLC
And finally, the big news for the CLC came on Thursday when the announcement was made from the NAACE stand that the CLC had been shortlisted for a coveted Impact Award for our support for schools. This is great news for the team. The winners will be announced in March at the annual NAACE conference but for now we are just pleased to have made the shortlist. http://www.naace.co.uk/events/conference2014/naaceimpactawards2014
Do contact the CLC team if you want any specific feedback about the products mentioned or the BETT show in general firstname.lastname@example.org