On Friday I attended the BETT show for the first time. Staff from the school where I work had been in previous years and I was looking forward to going. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect.
Entering the show, I was quickly accosted by a rep from a major IT company, badgering me about managed printer services or something. He then told me in hushed tones something that he said he shouldn't be telling me but... No doubt, he had probably told the same information to thousands of people over the previous two days. It turned out that the 'secret' information was the fact that a new model of the firm's printers was due to be released. Great.
Continuing my walk around the dizzying array of exhibitors, I continued to be approached/accosted by reps. It reminded me of an 18-30 holiday I went on in my early twenties when reps would try to entice you into the 'best bar in town'. At BETT this phrase was replaced with 'the market leader'. I adopted the same approach I did on that dusty road in Corfu, I shuffled along with my head down trying not to make eye contact with anyone.
Some of the products/ideas I saw were fascinating and a smaller number could even prove useful in our school. In fact I jotted down quite a few app ideas from +ICTEvangelist during his presentation. There was also the ubiquitous range of companies promising to solve the problem of assessment after levels. All of these seemed scarily complicated to me and I consider myself quite good with assessment. I would imagine they weren't exactly cheap either even if they were the market leaders.
The BETT arena was a sectioned off area of the show where a quick-fire programme of presentations took place. These were compered by someone who gleefully told us he was the voice of Siri in the UK and had been the voice of the Weakest Link for 11 years. The presentations were too short to be of any real value considering the large issues being discussed in them. I left each presentation I sat there for feeling a little cheated as I wanted to know more. The presentations taking place in other areas of the show were more useful as they were more specific and included ideas to be used directly in the classroom.
I was glad that I didn't have any school money to spend as it would have been easy to be taken in by the shiny, precious things. Having said this, I did enjoy my visit to BETT as I saw enough ideas that I liked and will hopefully return next year.