Which exhibitors made our top picks from the BETT Show, 2020?
Resources to get kids coding are in no short supply at the BETT Show. In fact, I would go as far as to say they have taken over.
Amongst the copious bleeping robots and flashy drones, on a humble stand in the BETT Futures area, was Mama.Codes. Kickstarted by three Mums working in the digital industry, this growing community of teachers, parents and pupils are committed to challenging the issue of the lacking diversity in tech. Mama.Codes currently boast 90 per cent female teaching staff and over 50 per cent female students in their coding clubs that run in over ten boroughs in London, whilst offering a range of over 150 key stage one resources, tutoring services and more.
Plugging the gender gap one coding club at a time…
Their mission is not restricted to tackling the lack of gender diversity, but social mobility restricting access to such industries and skills. Aware of the financial strain facing schools, particularly in the most deprived areas, MAMA.Codes are rolling out a unique scheme for U.K. schools. If any school can find 25 parents to subscribe to their upcoming app Looparoo, then the whole school’s annual subscription will be provided, absolutely free. Claim your free coding pack!
As if all that wasn’t enough, MAMA.Codes have teamed up with NOVA charity to deliver free coding clubs for disadvantaged children, including some victims of the Grenfell fire tragedy. They are taking donations to help hold their first ‘Eco-Hackathon’ where 20 kids get to code their way to resolving the climate crisis.
Absent from any technology, yet so important, is NutritionBAND. The global education and awareness campaign is committed to bringing about social change regarding how we approach dietary and lifestyle requirements.
The simple colour-coded bands signify different needs. Although the concept is incredibly simple, these bands can help school staff to safeguard children and prevent mistakes that could potentially be fatal.
Devastating cases such as that of Karanbir Cheema and Natasha Ednan-Laperouse are reminders of how important it is to increase awareness of such allergies, and subsequently how seriously we should take dietary requirements.
The NutritionBANDS act as clear visual signifiers and a simple colour-coded system for staff and students to keep such matters apparent and clear.
Every year, financially strained schools have to fork out thousands of pounds on expensive tech-support, contracts and products. EduGeek is a forum with over 68,000 users, designed to provide timely and accurate support and advice, absolutely free! The app embodies true open-source values built on collaboration and peer production without the incentive of profit. We’re all for any method of saving schools money, and EduGeek seems like a fabulous way to do that…
Another application that managed to stand out in the BETT Futures area (clearly my favourite) was Life Ninja, I’m a big fan of gamification and these guys have perfected the art by developing a range of applications (Learning Ninja, Message Ninja and Tap Maths) that can improve student engagement, parental participation and empower teachers whilst also reducing workload. I tried the first of their subject-specific gamified apps, Tap Maths, and was really impressed with their potential to engage key stage one and two students.
Unlike any other app of it’s kind (as far as I could find), Tap Maths enables teachers to not only draw from the bank of existing questions that cover the entire primary syllabus but can also modify the content to input custom questions! The quizzes and games are comprised of algorithmic progression, spaced repetition, recall and visual cues and provide a fantastic chance to combine guilt-free screen time with valuable teaching and learning.
Learning by Questions
Learning by Questions was by far one of the stand-out-brands at BETT this year, winning not one but two awards for ‘Best Secondary Content’ and ‘Best Classroom Aid for Learning’, ‘Teaching and Assessment’.
What sets LbQ apart from the abundance of classroom apps present at the BETT Show is their results and testimonies from teachers. Proven to improve outcomes, the impact these resources could have on decreasing workload for teachers whilst enhancing the learning experience for students is not to be underestimated.
Despite not necessarily being one for the classroom, I couldn’t help but love Yoto. The little screenless cube of audiobooks offers a beautifully designed alternative to traditional and predictable formats. Lovely for the home or an even better gift, the device encourages pupils an innovative and refreshing way of engaging with audio content without the typical glare of a screen that comes with using devices; unique moving graphics that provide visual cues and stimulation in real-time.
Yoto also offers a radio channel exclusively for children, that collates a variety of different kids radio stations and brings them all together in one place. A gorgeous little gadget for little-listeners, the range of audio content available continues to grow and includes the classics and the chance to stumble across something new.
Beyond it’s adorable and sleek design, the Roybi Robot is the world’s smart toy to utilise artificial intelligence to help kids learn languages and STEM skills.
Having been named one of TIME Magazine’s top inventions of 2019, the device can be used to listen to stories, sing songs of learning following structured lessons.
Whilst Roybi learns from the child’s voice and engages, the device adapts its style to suits each child. The pocket-sized tutor is aimed at 3 – 7-year-olds and is the optimum age for absorbing new languages; offering over 500 structures lessons in 50 categories with detailed feedback reports to parents and teachers on their child’s progress.
How cool is that?
The BETT Show is the largest education-technology fair in the U.K. It’s easy to be overwhelmed, but we’re always happy to see small-scale, affordable and pragmatic solutions for teachers…