When in London and in a social gathering, you know the weather won't let you down. You can talk about so many things related to it. The English language offers a cornucopia of words describing the weather, not to mention the magical falling of water from the sky we plainly call rain. The Brits call it a drizzle, a mizzle, a sprinkle, or a shower. And when the droplets get really serious, they say it's raining cats and dogs. I never got this saying, I must admit; furry animals usually seek shelter when raining. But I digress.
Talking about the weather in London is a great way of initiating a conversation when in a social gathering. It's the perfect subject for chit-chat, and it's the perfect icebreaker for longer, more meaningful discussions.
I used this tactic at the Bett Show last week and I must say I've met quite a number of interesting people. But almost all of them were less interested in the weather and more interested in education technology though.
This didn't really come as a surprise, since Bett is all about the use of technology to transform education and learning and prepare students of all ages for success.
A few numbers about the Bett Show
Bett or The Bett Show (formerly known as the British Educational Training and Technology Show) is an annual trade show in — you guessed it — London. It goes back to more than 30 years, and it attracts more and more visitors and exhibitors with each year that goes by.
The 2017 edition was packed-full with game-changers.
Hundreds of exhibitors from more than 40 countries filled the conference floor. From the multinational companies like Microsoft, Google, Apple, Discovery Education, Asus, Lego, or Intel, to small, single-product companies, they all made Bett the excellent conference it was. I saw robots, drones, VR sets, Augmented Reality apps, interactive screens, and even a real-size yellow school bus filled with computers. And there were plenty of people offering more information about what their products did and how they could make the lives of educators easier.
The four days of the event attracted almost 35,000 attendees from 138 countries around the globe. They were teachers, they were school leaders, they were instructional designers. They were there to find solutions to their problems related to the use of technology for a better instruction, and I doubt anyone left the conference disappointed about that.
Sprinkled among exhibitors' booths were a number of theaters, networking lounges and hands-on learn-live areas, and in the middle of everything was the Bett Arena. Over 500 speakers held more than 350 sessions on various topics about education technology.
One panel discussion addressed the topic of Artificial Intelligence and its implications for the world of education and contemporary learning. Inevitably, the speakers got to the question Will AI replace teachers?. All I can say is that they agree with my opinion about this topic. Or that I agree with them when saying that AI will not only NOT replace teachers, but it will actually better support their work by becoming the best teaching assistant ever.
Sir Ken Robinson's keynote
The Bett Arena hosted the most waited-for and the most attended session of the entire conference — that of Sir Ken Robinson. You know, the guy with the most popular Ted Talk, "Do schools kill creativity?"
During his time on stage, Sir Ken Robinson charmed the audience with his particular way of speaking and his take on how education should be transformed to respond to the 21st century learning needs.
His impassioned rallying cry got many schools and educational organizations across the globe to adopt new instructional approaches and put the student's needs in the center of everything they do.
Changing the system starts with one school. When enough schools change their approach to education, the system will be changed as well. It can be done.
When the official video of his keynote will go live, I'll make sure to upload it here.
This was Sir Ken Robinson's second time when he took the floor at The Bett Show, and I surely hope it won't be the last one.
The NEO team at Bett
The NEO team attended the Bett Show 2017 and met many amazing people there. We thank everyone who responded to our calls and social media posts and who booked a meeting with either of us. It's always a pleasure.
Until next time, I leave you with some pictures: