The Education Show

NEC, 28th. Feb – 2nd. March 2008

Another interesting forum event for the education sector, The Education Show caters for practitioners with many CPD seminars and suppliers exhibiting. But it also provides an opportunity for others to see what’s happening in the world of frameworks, curricula and School Improvement; what the buzz is with VLE’s, voting systems and interactive whiteboard applications; a catch-up on the National Healthy Schools Programme; and did you know it’s the National Year of Reading?

The show is at a friendly level compared to BETT – not as big and, with its different focus, more relaxed. There seems to be more room to chat and I even found myself talking to the MD of Emap (the organisers) in a lunch queue. Queues are less than BETT, food doesn’t run out like some did at BETT – may be something to do with many teachers taking their own sandwiches, no company expenses available!

Primary school teachers attend in abundance and there were resources to suit. There was a lot to take away and someone was providing natty plastic boxes with wheels and a long handle which teachers were completely filling and trundling home, happy. There was less emphasis on technology than BETT, as one would expect, but still many suppliers of digital materials and resources. But in case you are thinking it was a more parochial affair, there were attendees from foreign universities, business, other government sectors and the general public too, and I found just as much of interest as at the BETT show.

One highlight that put the show’s name on Midlands TV was Elonex’s launch of the first sub-£100 laptop – ONE. With the educational market in mind, I think it will find other markets too, particularly to those new to computing who want to use the internet (wirelessly) use word processing, play music and share with other wireless devices. Firmly in the Linux camp with Linux processor (300MHz) memory (128Mb DDR-II SD RAM) and operating system (Linos 2.6.21) with 1Gb Flash memory, what I also like is the removable keyboard. Kids are going to love the changeable outer rubberised skin – me too, I’d go for leopard skin, of course! A 7” screen is small but if you’re getting used to WAP phones for internet surfing then it’ll seem large. The 1kg weight is marvellous for mobility. But manufacturers never tell you how much a laptop weighs with its mains power adapter/charger – another half kilo?

ONE is a step in the right direction but something will soon bridge the gap between mobile phone/camera and pc in an affordable device that will be ideal in education.

Elonex, based in Bromsgrove, went live with their website and shop to coincide with the start of the show and they sold around 26,000 before lunchtime on the first day. Great launch!

I, meanwhile, had a fine time meeting current and prospective clients, checking out competitors and some latest news. Ideas for new products were generated from an appreciation of the needs and the gaps in provision – marvellous!

We’re very pleased that clients of ours, Rising Stars, won a Besa award for ‘Best Primary Resource or Equipment – non ICT’ for Literacy goes MADD. As we have recently produced Excellence in Scientific Enquiry for them and with another suite of CD-ROMs under construction, we’ll help them win in the ICT category next time.

Great to see ‘user generated content’ is making waves, as in the TrueTube , which won the Innovation award. This one is firmly in the secondary camp.

Although there are quite a number of small outfits producing digital resources themselves, and some of the larger very successful ones like 2Simple who develop products in-house, an increasing number are outsourcing to India for software programming. Some totally, including the winner of the ‘Supplier of the Year between £1m and £3m turnover’, Daydream Education. Makes for difficult times for us home-grown developers.

Still, we’re moving with the times, as they say, and visiting the Education Show helps. See you there next year!

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