It's a 4-day technology exhibition together with sharing in Practices. The scale and crowd were huge! Largely made up by vendors and some from the government-related agencies like Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), BECTA (British Educational Communications and Technology Agency), SSAT (Specialist Schools and Academies Trust) , etc.
The tube going from Earl Court to Olympia Tube Station was crowded. The queue outside the Olympia Exhibition Hall was long. We were early. At the registration counter, we entered the code generated when registered online. It was pretty fast, the name tag was printed. The BETT guide alone came in several versions - overall, little planners and even go down to the subject levels! Wow! The kind of customised details! OK, that's working towards personalisation (one of the BIG word that keeps coming up - well, not just for BETT, but also mp3). It's a combination Singapore's iCTLT and COMEX shows - with lots of technology vendors, but with a focus on Education, yet, it features some seminar sessions to share practices in schools. However, it's obvious - the sharing component was secondary.
Saw several "new" technologies - the first reaction was wow... interesting... as have yet seen them in our classrooms or exhibitions. Do we have similar technologies in Singapore? I wonder. Unlike those days when oversaw the ICT dept, had not received any product brochures since I joined HQ, and therefore have lost touch with the new stuff. Of course, am also mindful of issues like practicality and feasibility of bringing in some of these technologies into the classroom...
Lots of vendors deal with learning management systems (LMS) despite the fact there are login portals and vast pool of resources available in the portals supported by the local education authorities (LEA) and government-related agencies!
- Isn't it similar to Singapore's situation? While ETD develops resources to support the curriculum, there's a huge market in terms of LMS? It's definitely not because the resources produced by ETD were no good, but the emphasis is different - what ETD produces targets at specific initiative/implementation (eg. Baseline ICT Standards) and not to invest efforts in areas already taken care by vendors! (Well, is that strategic? Anyway, with the limited manpower in ETD, it's necessary to be strategic!)
Publicity tactics: Condition-free lucky draw was common in BETT - prizes could be notebooks! Recycleable bags were common. One unique handouts is a small packet of seeds (see picture below) - which I thought was pretty well conceptualised - simple yet with its intended message well-embedded...
Another thing that caught my attention was the revolving banner... which was raised to a height and rotated continuously. Well, it's not new and could be found in Singapore, too. But it just triggered a thought... perhaps for some display gadgets, we could include a brief note to illustrate how some simple science concepts are put into action ... It helps to illustrate the application of simple physics in real life! and could probably trigger interest and curiosity to the P6 children!
What are some technologies that caught our attention:
1. Classwatch (http://www.classwatch.co.uk/) - a system that provides real-time digital visual audio recording. The first question was, how different is this system compared to the surveillance camera system we already have in schools?
How it works: 2 video cameras are installed at opposite corners of the room so as to cover the view of the entire room. The enhancement is the audio component which could record conversations (but I've a question - the mics must be very sensitive and good in order to record what's said!).
How it could be used: Many of us would associate the surveillance camera with discipline - to catch the wrongdoing... (This way of thinking is common!) Now, with sound and having it installed in the classroom is worse... the immediate response would be - a monitoring tool! not just pupils' behaviour, but also teacher's classroom teaching! How pessimistic! Divorce from the pessimistic thoughts - the system has high potential for...
(a) Self reflection and improvement:
- For the beginning teachers or those who need more help - Teachers could record their lessons and reflect how they could better it. Certainly, this could be done together with their mentors to review the lessons.
- For those who are experimenting new strategies or pedagogies - That helps one to zoom into the specifics and analyse one's teaching and students' responses.
- Perhaps such system would suggest doing away with classroom observations! Well, in the current practice, pupils are aware that their teachers have been observed, especially when the P, VP or HOD turns up for the lesson. Like it or not, their behaviour would be influenced by the presence of these people - could be better or worst. To go a step further, the teacher could record and submit the lesson that she feels it's good - that's the opportunity for us the "catch the good!". It could also be kept by the teacher in their portfolio!
(b) Publicity - perhaps for SST - we could capture good teaching moments and showcase (in particular, parents) how pupils' learning activities take place! Ah! This could be kept as evidence for SEM, too!
Really, to tap on its affordances for the above positive practices, one really has to walk the talk... it just take one person (esp. the management) to "mis-use" the system (that differ from the primary intent & use it to catch the wrong intentionally) - all would go back to square one!
2. First Class (http://www.intl.firstclass.com/)
An online collaborative platform that offers similar features that most of the service products could provide - eg. Email & instant messaging, workspaces, calendars, file storage and personal web publishing (of which, the last 2 are newer features). However, it offers a pretty different look and feel. What struck us is the newer platform that's to be launch later this quarter - Bluefield, which incorporates the social network platform - which allows the users to set up communities for collaboration and updates. Of course, it comes with blogs, wikis, comments features... and the else to upload various kinds of media into the platforms.
Click HERE to download brochure (pdf)~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
(3) The Flexible Classroom by ESA Mcintosh (http://www.esamcintosh.co.uk/)
Interesting concept on the various kinds of furnitures - from whiteboards to desktop designs to seats. Whiteboards and display boards mounted with rollers so that they can be pushed around... possible to have multiple boards (different kinds), layered... and pushed to different sides of the room.
Click HERE to see brochures.
(4) LCD projectors (& mounting) that spot a different look!
The LCD projector that's mounted to the Activboard+2 IWB looks stylish and cool... though most of them appear in orange! Apart from the look, the direct benefit of such installation is reduced glare and shadowing to provide optimal on-screen resolution (as mentioned in the website). Of course, not forgetting its hefty cost - around S$6,000 for just installation! More info:
Another projector that spots a slightly different look is the Hitachi's - when mounted to the ceiling. the Click link to see.
(5) Seminar, "e-Safety in Action - The EPICT - A Pilot Programme" (http://www.epict.co.uk/index.php) NB: EP stands for European Pedagogical
The overview said, "... This session shares news and information from the development and roll-out of the EPICT Licence module in e-Satfey"
... was hoping to hear some the indicators of successful implemention of the programme, not just the training that the teachers undergo, but how they apply in classroom practices. Unfortunately, the sharing seemed superficial and did not align with the title of the presentation. e-Safety is only one of the many modules offered in the certification, which covers 16 modules (from the website)
- (i) Locating and Incorporating Online Resources (ii) Using and Creating Interactive Learning Materials (iii) Electronic Communication and Collaboration (iv) ICT and Strategic Innovation (v) Literacy and ICT (vi) Numeracy and ICT (vii) Presentation Technology, IWBs and Interactivity (viii) Publishing on the Web (ix) ICT and SEN (x) Effective Use of VLEs (xi) Digital Images (xii) Games and Edutainment (xiii) Spreadsheet Models (xiv) E-Safety (available December 2008) (xv) Creativity and ICT (xvi) EAssessment
So, basically, no gain from the session.
Nevertheless, other thoughts arise: Why there exists such certification? Everything exists due to a cause. There is a demand. This is a need Specifically,l for this digital era.
- The certification is meant for someone who intend to be a competent educator who uses ICT as a means for teaching and learning. Perhaps, it's an ideal... but not something impossible in the Singapore context. That reminded me of the attributes listed for a Level 4 teacher... all these fit in the PD, though not enough!