The third day of BETT 2011 got off to a flying start with lots of visitors expected on historically, the busiest day of the four-day exhibition. Even the rain couldn’t dampen the spirits of the hundreds of visitors who had turned up early to queue in eager anticipation of all that BETT has to offer.
As we warmed up for the busy day ahead, we bumped into Bill Jenkins from Securus Software on the Redstor stand (Stand U23) as we went to grab a nice, strong coffee. Throughout the past year, Bill and the team at Securus have been focussing their energies on business development and forming partnerships with other companies in order to provide additional services that support Securus’ e-safety agenda. From July, Securus will be integrating with Netsweeper, and, following a successful spell working with Greater Manchester Police, Securus have been able to create a streamlined version of their software for home use which will be distributed free of charge to parents in the Greater Manchester area. Securus are also creating a more in depth version of the system for home use following partnership with the Lucy Faithful Foundation, which will be released in June.
Next it was over to the Special Educational Needs Zone to visit Texthelp on Stand SN70 to watch a demonstration of literacy support system ‘Read & Write 10’. The product comprises of a toolbar which works with any application, for example, MS Word or Internet Explorer, to provide a variety of language support services including text to speech, a spellchecker with attached dictionary and a verb checking system. The software was originally aimed at the SEN market but has also proven popular in supporting students who have English as their second language.
Texthelp Read & Write Toolbar
We also paid a visit to Lorraine Peterson, CEO of NASEN on Stand SN15 and discussed the difficulties they are facing as they await the government green paper on SEN provision. As Lorraine explained:
‘We are set to see the most radical changes in the last ten years and my concerns are over what happens to the pupils that will be taught during the changeover period.’
We also discussed how SEN provisions in schools are often criticised for not meeting pupils’ needs effectively enough but how these problems may arise from a lack of staff training rather than because of remiss personnel.
Next it was back upstairs to the Software Zone to catch up with Gareth Jones, Director of Learnalot, on Stand SW80. Launched at BETT this year, Learnalot is a Key Stage 3 maths system which focuses on case studies or problem-based learning to encourage pupils to think about finding solutions to ‘real’ problems, and therefore engage them with maths. The Learnalot system currently comprises of 18 different mental arithmetic games alongside five case-study resources with three one hour activities in each. The questions within the case studies are generated completely at random within logical parameters, meaning that an entire class can be working on the same case study but be answering completely different questions. This eliminates the opportunity to copy classmates’ work and also prevents pupils from manipulating the system by memorising correct answers and then re-playing the same game.
Learnalot stand (Stand SW80)
Learnalot are currently working on a range of new case studies to add to the system such as a fashion boutique and haunted house. Click here to read the full article about Learnalot which featured on bee-it last month. Visitors to the Learnalot stand can also have a go at the Cops and Robbers online maths game to be automatically entered into an exciting prize draw to win a laptop.
Our next visit of the day was to Stand Q22 to see long-time friends of bee-it, Mike Wilkinson and Steve Holt, creators of games-based revision system I am Learning. As Mike explained, BETT 2011 has been ‘the best show ever’ for I am Learning following on from a busy 2010, with the team now producing new games at a rate of one every two weeks. The I am Learning system particularly proved its worth earlier this winter when a number of schools were closed due to heavy snowfall. During this period, teachers were able to instruct pupils to use I am Learning from home to ensure that they were making the most of their time when they were not able to get to school.
Whilst visiting the I am Learning stand, bee-it was given exclusive news of the brand new I am Learning app which will be launched soon via the Apple App Store. Stay tuned to bee-it over the coming weeks for more on this exciting development.
We returned to the Grand Hall to see Siobhan Percival from Crick Software on Stand F40. Following the successful release of language learning series ‘Clicker French’, Crick Software has launched the new modern foreign languages resource ‘Clicker Spanish’. This new software title, which is powered by Clicker 5, has been designed to get primary school children reading and writing in Spanish and includes template translation tools and speech engines to enable teachers with limited or no knowledge of the Spanish language to be able to teach their class effectively.
Visitors to BETT will once again be able to benefit from a range of special offers from Crick Software, including huge discounts across a variety of products.
Crick Software stand (Stand F40)
Our final visit of the day was to see Firefly Solutions, creators of the three-in-one learning platform, intranet and website, Firefly.NET, on Stand T5. Talking about how BETT 2011 is going for them so far, Firefly Solutions founding partner, Simon Hay, said:
‘We’re having a really busy show so far and have had lots of interest in Firefly.NET, with lots of people entering our competition to win a Kindle.’
Firefly Solutions are currently offering 30-day free trials of the Firefly.NET content management system which seamlessly integrates with the school MIS and Active Directory to enable real-time data transfers. If you’re visiting BETT 2011, you can try out the system and enter the competition to win a Kindle. Alternatively, you can read more about Firefly.NET and see a demonstration video by clicking here.
Simon Hay demonstrates Firefly.NET (Stand F40)
Back at the bee-it stand and it has been another hectic day with lots of visitors keen to learn more about bee-it and find out how they can get involved. We’ve been fortunate to meet many knowledgeable teachers and education professionals who are enthusiastic about technology in education and have had a good chat about the innovative ways they’re using technology in their schools and the products they’re using to achieve this.
If you’re visiting Olympia for the final day of BETT 2011 tomorrow, make sure you stop by Stand P39 to meet the bee-it team and enter our fantastic free prize draw!