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Public sector

Bett 2013: day one roundup

As Bett 2013, the UK’s education technology show, gears up for another day of action, we take a look back at what happened on the opening day.

Having outgrown its previous home at the Olympia Exhibition Centre in West London, this year Bett has shifted east to the ExCel exhibition centre in Newham. Between 30 January and 2 February, over 30,000 educators, students and technology providers will be pulled from all corners of the globe to discuss the main trends in education today and see some of the innovative technology solutions that are helping institutions meet the demands of tech-savvy students.

Day one kicked off with a bang with keynote presentations from Vince Cable, the UK’s Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, and Anthony Salcito, VP for education at Microsoft. Both focused on the importance of driving digital learning and the impact technology is having on students and educators across the globe.

In his presentation, Cable took the opportunity to explain how the UK’s education, training and technology sectors will develop into major areas of UK export growth over the next few years. To support this growth, he explained that the government is putting in place a number of programmes and supporting start-up companies that are innovating in the education space.

Microsoft’s Salcito then went on to describe not just the important role technology plays in education, but how educators must focus on how they can harness it properly to make a real difference. Salcito noted countless failures where devices have been dropped into schools to simply automate out-of-date paradigms. To avoid this, he explained that the sector needs to rethink how they take advantage of the latest in innovation to better engage students and empower teachers in the long term.

“The most meaningful conversations taking place here at Bett this week are about something much bigger than hardware and software,” said Salcito in a blog post following the event’s first day. “We’re talking about engaging students – moving them from the passive receptors of rote information required by an industrial age economy to the active instruments of change needed in the 21st century and beyond. Because technology alone doesn’t address the significant challenges facing education.”

Many educators and students attending this year’s event will have the opportunity to see how Windows 8 can help them in their digital learning. “We at Microsoft also believe that 2013 will be a milestone year for education,” Salcito added. “From the new Windows 8 operating system that bridges all devices students use to learn at home and at school, to services like Office 365 for Education that brings the power of cloud computing to schools (at no cost to K-12 and higher education institutions), to new and on-going Partners in Learning programs designed to support collaboration and professional development for educators, we’re focused on the big issues facing education.”

This year, the Microsoft stand (E270) has been split into two areas – the Microsoft Learn Live Theatre and the Windows 8 stand. Under the central theme of ‘A New Era of Digital Learning’, attendees have the opportunity to see how devices, services and rich applications can come together to create more immersive and engaging learning experiences that help build essential 21st century skills.

Leading Microsoft hardware partners such as Dell, HP, Lenovo, Asus and Acer are also showcasing some of their tablets, laptops and PCs running Windows 8 at Bett this week, while other solutions providers such as Capita and ThiemeMeulenhoff are demonstrating how a range of Microsoft technologies can be used in education today.

Nimero is profiling Jumpido, a Microsoft Kinect-based mathematics game for primary school children that encourages teamwork and competitive models for classroom activities by combining exercise with engaging maths tests. Nimero can be found at stand number C22.

Swansea Edunet is also showcasing its Microsoft SharePoint- based solution at the event – a learning platform created by Swansea Council for public sector use. Built as a series of discrete modules it can be adopted as a complete and very easy to use platform, or as series of single applications. The modules can be used by any public body hosting its own SharePoint environment. A recent development is the Children and Young People's University Cymru, a complete management information system for recording extra curricular achievements, particularly in the Welsh education sector. Pupils can see and plan their achievements whilst administrators have an intuitive database to manage over 2,000 courses. Swansea Edunet can be found at stand F358.

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