It’s been a few weeks since the whirlwind that was Bett 2023. The Futuresource team has had plenty of time to reflect on the event’s highlights, with our Bett post-show report now live and landing in inboxes. Futuresource’s marketing team, including Kayley Bright (Associate Director of Marketing), Vicki Hayward (Content, Press, Partnerships and Event Lead), and Olivia Goldsmith (Marketing Programme Coordinator) also attended the event – a marketing first for Futuresource!
Now the dust has settled, we decided to sit down with our marketing aficionados to uncover their experience of Bett 2023.
The pandemic shifted our approach to education, highlighting some vast inequalities and technology gaps across schools. It also highlighted how external circumstances can throw almost every industry into flux – education included. Future-proofing education to ensure it meets the needs of the growing population, addresses global inequalities, and withstands tumultuous global events like climate change or future epidemics has become of the utmost importance. How evident was this at Bett?
Kayley Bright: A focus on the future was certainly felt. It was clear that digitalisation is integral to future-proofing education, and John Solomon’s (VP ChromeOS and Education at Google) speech discussed the three key trends from Google’s Future of Education research: making learning personal, elevating the teacher, and shifting to a lifelong learning mindset.
These three issues are at the heart of the future of education. A ‘one size fits all’ approach is not adequate; equally, learning does not end when a student finishes school but continues throughout a lifetime.
While it’s not always possible to have 1:1 student and teacher interaction, schools must adapt their approach to create ‘versatilists’. In line with the age of automation, children must have skillsets that suit a range of experiences, focusing on the skills required to create a job as opposed to learning for a specific role. As industries change, new job roles emerge and others become defunct, this will help keep the future workforce adaptable. Ultimately, focusing on ‘personalisation at scale.’
Cybersecurity was another key discussion at Bett that was highlighted as essential to safeguard the future of education. Shockingly, education is the most targeted sector across sixteen key industries. In 2021, ransomware attacks impacted 56% of lower ed and 64% of higher ed. Companies from the likes of Intel and Microsoft are now collaborating to combat this, with a particular shift in focus from software to hardware solutions, such as the Intel vPro on display. A multilayer security approach is now needed to protect student privacy and data.
Vicki Hayward: An enthusiasm for the future of education was palpable across the event. But simultaneously, there was an ever-present undercurrent that propelled – if not all of us, then definitely me, to think, “this is all very exciting, but how can the education sector achieve this?” I listened to presentations that revealed the anger and trauma being seen in schools; that the cost of living is having a huge impact on both students’ and teachers’ collective mental health – with neither feeling heard. There’s a huge push for technology, but there’s not necessarily the budget there for all schools to incorporate devices into the classroom. During Steven Bartlett’s keynote, BBC Radio 4’s Amol Rajan prompted an excellent question that indicated budget constraints, lack of government clarity and a lack of a strategic approach to tech implementation was creating a culture of rich schools vs. poor schools. While Bartlett couldn’t provide an adequate answer – I think he talked about how he made money at school – it certainly got me thinking about how we can begin to accelerate equity through education for all, if we don’t tackle the challenges the education sector is facing at the very top.
It does seem that equity and funding are huge topics in schools and among teachers, but less so in the spaces where the power lies. There’s the sense that while these technological innovations are impressive, they’re falling on deaf ears when schools are struggling to receive adequate funding.
Kayley Bright: Absolutely. More funding is still needed to better facilitate positive change across the education sector. As covered by Steven Bartlett, change is required at a governmental level to allow teachers to focus their incentives on the individual needs of each student.
Steven Bartlett did go on to question why from his personal experience, he was made to sit in classes that didn’t cater to his interests, which pulls into question what can realistically be achieved when it comes to personalising education at this level. After all, attending a range of key subjects provides a broad range of transferable skills. It’s about retaining information and learning skills that can be used in a multi-faceted way.
One positive area that’s making waves in education right now is esports. What sort of attitude were schools and vendors taking towards esports at Bett?
Olivia Goldsmith: Bett made clear just how important esports is and will be to the future of education. Stands were brimming with innovative technology for both kids and adults to try out and experience. There were plenty of interactive programs, games, and robotics highlighting technological advancement within the education space. The return of immersive tech was also really evident across the halls, so it’s exciting to see how this will develop in the future.
Vicki Hayward: This was my first time at Bett, and the thing that struck me most was the sheer volume of esports coverage. The show floor was heaving with vendors and booths showcasing the latest in hardware and software – and the dedicated esports theatre provided a wealth of engaging content. Both exemplified the direction the edtech industry is enthusiastic to head in, but also highlights the vital crossover between what, traditionally, has been seen as a somewhat frivolous hobby. For me, it was refreshing to see the enthusiasm to incorporate gaming to not only improve learner outcomes, but also encourage both core and soft skills that help young people develop beyond the classroom.
Kayley Bright: I think one of the most significant takeaways from the focus on esports is how effective it is in engaging students. Not only does esports tap into the interests of children outside of the classroom, but it also aids with encouraging inclusivity, creativity, and supporting the introverted learner. This type of learning is a brilliant way of better catering to neurodiversity in education.
It’s great to see a focus on engaging the entire cohort of students. Evidently, a lot of important discussions were taking place. Another emerging theme across multiple industries is mental health – how did you feel vendors and panellists addressed this?
Kayley Bright: We attended a panel session that focused on the use of tech to support mental health and wellbeing. Joined by panellists from youHQ, Miltoncross Academy School, Tranquiliti and Heavy Heals Wellbeing, the panel discussed how having access to 1:1 devices is crucial for providing the right tools for mental health in the classroom. However, we need to invest not just in the technology but the time to train teachers. It doesn’t matter how smart the technology is if teachers aren’t being trained on how to facilitate meaningful conversations with students. Schools must safeguard the time and space for teachers to understand how to use such technology effectively, whilst also removing the fear associated with using it.
Vicki Hayward: I think that, despite questions and challenges in the sector, the focus on inclusivity and mental wellbeing created a really positive atmosphere at the event. Supporting both students and teachers in accessing technology that facilitates improved and meaningful connections was top of mind across each section of the show floor, which feels like a great place to spark renewed conversations at a government level. Or, at least that would be where I’d begin!
Until next year!
2023 proved to be another great year for Bett. Technological innovation was rife, which should pave the way for positive change and improved outcomes in the sector. Panellists weren’t shying away from more difficult conversations surrounding funding, which shows that while there is still some way to go, the industry is heading in the right direction.
Futuresource Consulting’s Bett 2023 post-show report is now live. Diving into the technologies and trends as seen at Bett through the eyes of our analysts, with an evaluation of the role sustainability is playing in the sector, the report is brimming with insights on the key topics gripping edtech. Grab your copy here.
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