Mark Hodges, Education Sector Lead at Cantium Business Solutions gives us the full run-down of the 2022 BETT show that took place 29-31 March 2022 at the ExCeL London.

Bett was back! After 2 years of not going to a physical exhibition I managed to go to the 2022 Bett show and see real people in a real venue. There were a few things that were different though. The first thing is that it felt smaller than usual. I’m not sure if this is true, but there seemed to be less exhibitors there, and they were split across the excel centre. The organisers also arranged the show better in my view, with clearly marked out zones with hardware, software, management systems and international exhibitors. This meant it was much easier to find your way around and see the items you wanted. Lastly, it was quite interactive and physical. I saw a few stands with innovative physical education products and lots of adults enjoying the challenges, mainly throwing balls at walls. But in general it was a traditional Bett show.

In terms of the exhibitors, it was the usual eclectic mix of companies and small businesses. I particularly liked the guys who were dressed as Vikings. To me there was still lots of hardware providers. Now this kind of makes sense as at these events the products you can touch and feel are usually what you are looking for; the latest Microsoft device, the newest touch screen displays, programable mini robots. However, there was plenty of software on show as well.

And it was in this area that I came away with some excellent examples of how schools can use technology to improve processes in the classroom and across other areas of the school.

The first product was TeamSOS. This app is available both on desktop and mobile devices and allows schools to manage an on-call system as well as ensure policies are disseminated. It replaces the old walkie talkies and email accounts that some schools use to get a member of staff to an incident quickly. TeamSOS does this exceptionally well by having features such as recording conversations, chats and sending advice in advance of you turning up. I know this would have helped me a number of  times when I was on-call in school so that I would be more prepared for what I was going into, rather than can you go to room x as teacher y needs you.

The second product that caught my eye was ClassLink. This provides schools with a simple single sign on solution which greatly reduces the time teachers take going round the room helping students to sign in. It provides a single webpage, once signed in, that has all the websites the students need, and has details pre-filled in so the students jump straight into the learning activity. It also has a QR code card and emojis for younger students. This would be a great solution for some of the teachers I have been speaking to over the last few weeks who say this is a really big drain on their time and is there a solution. I think there is!

The last product I found interesting was an attendance software that took the hassle out of sending attendance letters and having different systems to monitor attendance levels. The software means that schools can send letters at the right time to the right people, as well as a dashboard to show where students are in the attendance monitoring process. I know from experience that if the correct process is not followed then it can have a large impact on attendance hearings and outcomes.

All the products that I saw at Bett demonstrate that the EdTech sector is still innovating and looking for ways to help schools manage processes better and help deliver effective teaching and learning. If you want to find out more about the applications I found useful, then please drop me a message at mark.hodges@cantium.solutions and I can tell you all about them.