Bett 2020: What’s Now and Next in Education Technology

2/18/2020
— Madeline Willman, Account Director 

With the education technology industry booming, the British Education Training and Technology conference, or Bett, is an important milestone for global brands in advance of administrators’ buying season. Bett has been held at the end of January in London every year since 1985, showing that technology in education is far from a new concept. Of course, as technology becomes more and more ingrained in our lives, the role of technology in education changes, too. This year Bett hosted 900+ companies, from big players like Microsoft and Google to specialized startups, and over 35,000 attendees, from IT administrators, educators and CIOs to parents and students.

A pervasive theme at Bett 2020 was the importance of “teaching to the whole child.” It unifies trends we’ve seen emerge over the past five years, including helping students learn curriculum through personalized technology, methods for teaching soft skills like collaboration and learning through failure, plus digital well-being and citizenship in our modern world.

Behind the emphasis on the whole child is a growing recognition of the benefits of social and emotional learning (SEL). SEL worked its way into all three of the biggest tech trends we saw at Bett 2020. Read on for more on these trends and what brands can do to lead the conversation.

 

1. Student Well-Being

In keynotes and on the show floor, many companies at Bett recognized that well-being is at the core of learning. For a student to be engaged and have a fulfilling educational experience, there’s benefit and opportunity for educators and brands to monitor, measure and address their overall well-being.

For companies at Bett, student well-being often meant keeping students safe on the internet and empowering educators to keep an eye on students’ mental health. One such company, Impero, leaned into well-being with a full spa-themed booth. The booth showcased how their software allows teachers to see what students are searching online and intervene if they are looking into how to harm themselves or others.

It’s inspiring to see how far education technology products like Impero continue to innovate the full school experience beyond just academic standards. With these emerging tools, a teacher’s role evolves in significant ways to address the needs of the whole child.

 

2. Hands-On STEAM Learning

When we think about education technology, the image of a computer lab or students tinkering on a laptop often comes to mind. However, many companies have realized that although teaching kids curriculum on a computer can be beneficial, for certain subjects, especially STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math), students learn better by getting hands-on.

Walking around the Bett show floor validated that hands-on STEAM learning, and particularly robotics, is a growing area in education. LEGO Education’s president Esben Staerk emphasized the connection between playful STEAM learning and SEL. Underscoring the importance of soft skills, like collaboration and communication for jobs of the future, Staerk’s keynote exemplified exhibitors’ focus on the whole child.

 

3. Connecting Students Around the World

One of the greatest benefits of technology is its ability to connect people around the world. This is no different in education. Every student comes from a different background, with different levels of access to experiences, cultures and information. Technology can be a great equalizer to help all students learn about different cultures, see scientific wonders up close or travel to a distant place without leaving their hometown. At Bett, we saw virtual reality used to transport students to a different city. Videoconferencing products can allow a student in Ohio to create a bond with a student in Shanghai. These types of technologies help students learn about different cultures by experiencing them first-hand. Although companies design products with an eye toward aligning with standards, we see increased investment from educators to adopt technologies that foster experiences and skills beyond those easily assessed with a scantron form.

 

Considering Your Presence at Bett 2021

A handful of WE Communications’ clients attended Bett, including one of the key sponsors of the event, Microsoft Education. If you work for or represent an education brand planning to head to Bett next year, here are some insights into the media landscape:

International media abound

Being a London-based trade show, Bett’s media attendees were a very international crew. A majority of reporters were based in the U.K., but we also met media from Bosnia, Japan and Norway. If you are looking to build relationships with international and U.K. media, Bett is a great place to mingle.

If you’re an American brand hoping to use Bett to reach U.S. media, consider your options. Only a handful of U.S. media made the trek across the pond.

Media came camera in-hand

Having product experts in your Bett booth who are media- and camera-ready will help you score quick on-camera interviews. Media roamed around the show floor with cameras in hand, looking for interesting booths with eye-catching visuals. You will up your chances of being included in Bett roundup articles if you have a seasoned spokesperson handy for a quick on-camera interview.

Just like technology’s role in education, Bett is always changing and always growing. We’re sure Bett 2021 will showcase many new companies, both large and small, committed to using technology to teach to the whole child.

 

Image courtesy Bett.