Day 1 of BETT

OK so lets start with the usual BETT mishap, and this years one is a good one.   Basically had a breakfast meeting setup for during BETT, occurring in the centre of London.    So I departed my BETT hotel and headed out early in the morning, necessitating getting up around 6am.   And so it was I arrived early, found the location and took in some views of the Thames, before presenting myself at the venues security area, an area populated by around 15 security staff and me, their first visitor of the day.    But they had no reference of the event I was attending.   A quick look at the invite and it was dated the 24th March, tomorrow, I had just somehow got it in my head it was on day 1 of BETT.   I was not just early, I was 24 hours too early!     Now am not sure how I will ever top this one.


So, onto BETT itself.    The main benefit of the event is the networking side of things, and once again it provided on this side of things.    I spent a bit of time with the Association of Network Managers in Educations (ANME), spoke with Steve Beswick from Microsoft in relation to the Microsoft Surface Devices and inking and discussed cyber security and data protection with Tony Sheppard

I also said quick hellos to Mark Anderson and Al Kingsley on the Netsupport stand and to Abdul Chohan and Aarti Malani ahead of their session plus to Tom Dore from British esports (and am being careful to ensure I write esports correctly following Toms session) and Ian Stockbridge.     And apologies to others I may have missed off, in my foggy recollection at the end of a busy first day.   I will note I need to get better with my selfies, as despite the many hellos or quick chats I came away with very few selfies.

Esports and cyber

I took in Tom Dores talk on esports, which really highlighted the potential esports has as a vehicle to engage students and to promote soft skills plus also the digital citizenship skills and knowledge increasingly needed in this technological world.    This highlights my need to continue to encourage and support esports in schools.

I also took in two cyber security discussions, with the most significant comment being the need to discuss “Cyber Resilience” of schools rather than the narrower focus of “cyber security”, looking largely only towards preventative measures.   I also liked the 10 recommendations which one of the sessions finished on which included the need to adopt a “Continuous Improvement Cycle”, with this need echoed in the 2nd of the two sessions.   The need for the wide awareness of cyber risks among staff but more particularly as something discussed at a senior level, regularly, with this referring to daily or weekly rather than an annual discussion.

Interactive Panels

I wont make much of a discussion on this as sadly there were still quite a few companies hocking their interactive panels and projectors.   Not really that much of a surprise from a business perspective as, if you take them as useful, the market comprimses of every single classroom in every school, across the world;   As such I need to get over this issue;   As long as there is a market and a profit I suspect interactive panels will continue to show up at EdTech shows.    One interesting trend though this year, was the projectors setup to create large interactive floor surfaces or walls rather than your traditional board wall space.   It’s a minor variation of the interactive panel theme and I can see some interesting use cases with younger kids, but still feels a bit like old tech, just wrapped up as something new and shiny, and I note I saw i3 doing similar things almost 10 years ago now.

AI and Machine Learning

It came up in some of my discussions especially in relation to cyber security products, but as it was quite a busy day I didn’t really push anyone in defining how AI or machine learning was utilised within their products.   Maybe something to focus on in day 2.


Day 1 was a busy one.    My step count by the end of the day was around 15,000 steps, and being above 6ft tall, plus tending to walk at a brisk pace, this means I covered some surface area, in and around the chats and presentations.    Although BETT this year Is smaller, it didn’t really feel smaller.

Was it worth it coming down for BETT?    I would suggest it was however at the end of day 1 I wonder in myself whether I could have made more of day 1.    But that is an issue I am more concious of in myself these days, that maybe the search for continuous improvement leaves me always feeling a little disappointed no matter how things have gone.    Maybe I need to relax a little, network, have fun and just be content with having achieved all that I could achieve.


Author: Gary Henderson

Gary Henderson is currently the Director of IT in an Independent school in the UK. Prior to this he worked as the Head of Learning Technologies working with public and private schools across the Middle East. This includes leading the planning and development of IT within a number of new schools opening in the UAE. As a trained teacher with over 15 years working in education his experience includes UK state secondary schools, further education and higher education, as well as experience of various international schools teaching various curricula. This has led him to present at a number of educational conferences in the UK and Middle East.

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