On Thursday 21st I visited the BETT exhibition after 8 years away. During those 8 years I attended the GESS.GEF and BETT/BFE Middle East events which I was none too impressed with. As such my visit to BETT 2016 was always going to involve a comparison with my experiences in the Middle East. Due to poor planning the visit to BETT was only a short one surrounded with hours sat in traffic driving too and from London. As I arrived home I was ready to write my usual blog about how I the exhibition offered little and how I was disappointed by what was on show. As it happened I didn’t write my blog at that time, nor did I write in the days following the exhibition, mainly I suspect, due to my lack of enthusiasm for the event itself.
Then I read a piece by @teachertoolkit (you can read the full piece here) and I reflected on my experience and on my perception of the BETT UK exhibition plus on previous experiences out in the Middle East. Although I had seen little to impress me with the event I had only spent a short period of hours there. Maybe to get the full of the experience I would need to spend longer in future. My perception of the number of people in attendance was that the UK event was significantly busier than the Middle East event and I hadn’t even visited on the first day of the exhibition. Maybe this was the reason the UAE event had failed to inspire, because of the lack of people in attendance and the resulting lack of opportunities to meet fellow educators, to network and to discuss ideas and experiences. In the Middle East the people I got to spend with most time were the sales people and obviously their priority is sales as opposed to sharing ideas and best practice. Had I spent longer at the UK BETT exhibition maybe I would have had the opportunity to engage with more people, share more ideas and overall get more from the event. I have often remarked that on training events it is the networking, the discussions over coffee, which yield the greatest benefits, yet I did not allow myself any actual time to do this at BETT.
I think, if I am going to give BETT another go next year, I will need to ensure I give myself plenty of time to make the most of the event. I will also need to plan my time better to ensure I get to see the vendors which I need to see but also allow for opportunities to network and have informal discussions. Another thing I will need to do is attend TeachMeet BETT as it sounds like an excellent CPD opportunity.
Here’s to BETT 2017!!