Archive for the Category ◊ Conferences / BETT ◊

Learning Without Frontiers 2012 #lwf12
Saturday, January 28th, 2012 | Author:

So this was my first trip to the Learning without Frontiers festival/conference and I didn’t really know what to expect. I had seen tweets from last year’s event and it seemed to be something that I would be a fool to miss. But with the very expensive ticket price and a lack of supply cover, I hadn’t given this year’s event a thought until I was invited to take part in a small aspect of the conference. This was to be a debate about whether the VLE is dead or not within schools.

On my side I had Professor Steve Wheeler and we were debating against Drew Buddy and Dughall McCormick. The debate was chaired by Michael Shaw from the TES. We had decided through varying emails to make this debate a light-hearted affair and to try and make it a bit like a game show. We downloaded buzzers and the audience would have cards to vote for the winners of each round.

It was a very tough experience for me as I was amongst seasoned professionals. I had never done this sort of thing before and I did ok, but it wasn’t brilliant. My main challenge was to debate that VLEs were dead while being given random words such as Facebook, flipped learning, fish and security. Yes, fish. The debate started and each time the buzzer sounded, a new word was selected and I had to incorporate that into the debate. As I said, I did ok, but Steve was fantastic and I’m glad he was on my side. We didn’t end up winning but it was a fun way to spend an hour.
We did discover (we sort of knew already) that the debate could have been entitled a number of different things and it could have made it more relevant. What is a VLE? Does having Google Apps and other free tools count as a VLE? After all, I have that and I manage accounts etc for all students.
To make the debate plausible we needed to have polarising viewpoints so we tried to keep this as much as possible, even though we all pretty much agreed with each other. If a VLE is in place, then you need strong leadership in the school and you need enthusiasm and buy-in from the staff. If these are not in place then it won’t happen. It was interesting to hear the views of the audience (40 seated 30+ standing) and they seemed fairly split in their opinions as well.
Overall it has ignited a few questions with me and I will be following those up later. I also posted a survey on my blog a few days ago to ask about people’s opinions about VLEs and I’ll post a summary of that too.
So onto the conference. I arrived a little late so I sat and watched the first speaker (Ray Kurzweil) on my own and I have to say that he used lots of technical words and he sounded very clever but I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to take from it. I mean I saw lots of graphs and as Doug Belshaw blogged, he used the word exponential a lot. I think the presenters were there to make us think rather than give us anything we could go and do in our class the next day. So it did get me thinking, who was at this conference? Who is it aimed for? Surely the people that can make these decisions about education are the headteachers and school leaders, maybe it is for them. I didn’t feel as a teacher that it was for me at all. Luckily at the break I caught up with Twitter troublemakers Julian Wood and Kevin McLaughlin. We soon found others to chat to including Dughall McCormick, Chris Leach and Dan Bowen. We then spent around two hours in the tea room discussing anything and everything. For me, this was the most useful part of the day.
After our VLE session, we wandered a bit and we went to see Kevin play with the ipads and make some music but we generally didn’t know what to go and do or see. Nothing was grabbing us. So after a bit of discussion we ended up in the pub and again started putting the world to rights. This is what excites me about education, it’s discussing ideas with like-minded people and friends. Maybe I’m not clever enough for conferences like these, maybe I need to read more and research more before attending, but I just didn’t get it.

I did have some fun at the awards ceremony and successfully picked the winners of both the primary and secondary innovator categories. I was very pleased and shocked to be nominated but Sir David Mitchell of Blogging was always going to win and rightly so. The huge scale of his quad-blogging project is just amazing and he has impacted so many people. A very worthy winner. I also said that Ray Chambers would win for his sheer geekiness when it comes to his coding with the Kinect. There was also a touching tribute to Tom Cooper, someone that I never met and never really spoke to on Twitter but we did have the odd chat now and again. He will be missed by many people in Lewisham and beyond. Dawn and tripping Tony did him proud.

Day 2

For the second day, we had been invited to present alongside some incredible teachers and share our work with Digital Leaders so it made sense to take some with me. I chose three year 4 girls and they’d spent a week or so planning their presentation. On the day we took various trains and managed to arrive at the same time as Claire Lotriet (@ohlottie) and her Digital Leaders. They were very excited to see their new badges which I had brought with me! We had about 2 hours before our presentation so we spent half an hour getting cake, then we played on the Nintendo 3DSs and built some Lego models. There wasn’t anything else to do. The children had their photos taken with Mario so they were happy!

For their presentations, they were incredible. We shared a stage with Kevin McLaughlin, Julian Wood, Jodie Collins, Jack Sloan, Claire, Mary Farmer, David Rogers, Nick Dennis and Oliver Quinlan. Phew. As I tweeted about half-way through, imagine working in a school with all of those people! You’d never get anything organised, there would be a hell of a lot of naughtiness going on, but wow it would be fun! Listening to their presentations was inspiring. From simple ideas to crazy ones every speaker was fantastic. My children waited brilliantly and gave some great feedback after saying that they thought Julian was “weird, but they liked him” and that they want to be pupils in David’s school (even though they didn’t understand what he said). High praise indeed. The children were buzzing the whole way home and have since been lauded with praise in the school assembly and rightly so!

Overall as I said, I don’t know who this conference is aimed at, but it really isn’t me. I spoke to a few people who said they were disappointed in this year’s event compared with last year. I know last year that there was a free day and the festival was a great event, but this year it was hard to see what the point in the festival was. Ok so there were a few pods, but nothing that was truly exciting. Even when you had Lego or Nintendo, there wasn’t anyone there to show how this is used in the classroom, it was just there as a toy to play with. The event also suffered from the same problems as many other conferences, the WiFi was annoying. Every time you closed your browser you were required to log-in again. For the pods, they had a dedicated WiFi router but this wasn’t strong enough in our pod and the videos spent more time buffering than they did playing.

Maybe I should’ve sat in on the conference a bit more, maybe I was expecting too much after hearing about last year’s event, maybe I am not the target audience but I had fun because of meeting people, not because of the event. Having said that, I know some people that have enjoyed the conference so it could just be me. The dates for next year’s event have just been released and I know a lot of teachers will have to choose between LWF and Bett as they both fall within the same week…

Other BETT goodness aka BETT part 2
Sunday, January 22nd, 2012 | Author:

Firstly, apologies that it has taken so long to write this. The week after BETT is always just as busy as the time when you’re there. Also, I didn’t take a laptop with me due to space constraints in the luggage (Charlie’s straighteners took priority of course).

So it’s been (over) a week since BETT and it feels like a lifetime ago. BETT is different for me than it is for the majority of other people. Most teachers will go and explore the show, look around, see what is new and maybe grab the odd freebie but for me, I go there to meet with people from Twitter and do the odd presentation or two.

Firstly, the Twitter thing. Over the last 3 BETTs I have met so many people from Twitter that this has become a massive highlight for me. If you took away all of the stands and just put us all in a room, we’d happily have the best day ever. There are so many people that I connect with on a daily basis that I see these people as friends, even more so than people I know in the real world sometimes! This sounds weird I know, but I chat to some people a few times a week at least so I do count them among my friends. In fact, the first appointment on the Thursday evening was with Dughall McCormick and we discussed the fact that we had only met in person four or five times before, yet it is always like meeting an old friend.  Many thanks to Matt Pearson for the invite to this event too 🙂

Throughout the show I met many old friends, (well I say that, but mainly they are people I met last year!) and many new ones too. The oddity for me was when someone told me that they followed me on Twitter, said hello and then walked away without me getting the chance to find out their Twitter name in return! There was even one silly (but very lovely) person who accuses me of being a Twitter celebrity, I just reminded her that I’m a normal bloke that tweets too much. And has a very understanding fiancee…

The highlight of Friday morning for me is this weird tradition that I seemed to have started a few years back. In 2010 a few us were at a loose end and had booked cheap hotels without breakfast so we discussed meeting for coffee before the show. This was where I first met Simon Widdowsden (@xannov). THen last year people asked if we were repeating the #BETTbreakfast. It had gained a hashtag so I couldn’t refuse could I? This year we followed the same tradition and all met for breakfast in a pub 10mins from Olympia. This was a great chance to almost meet people like Simon Lewis (more on him later) and Merlin John and to catch up with David Mitchell, Natty (@natty08), Dawn Hallybone, Rob Harrison, Alex Bellars, John Sutton, Gideon Williams and many more. It’s a simple idea, but I love it. Bacon and eggs, plus friends. Wonderful 🙂

I unfortunately had to leave the breakfast early as I had Google business on the Google stand. For those that attended the Google meetup before Christmas, you’ll know if something is provided by Google then you prefix it as such. We had Google wine and got a Google pen. I blame Pete Stuart (@petestuart). So, I headed to Olympia and my first bit of Google business was blagging my way in early without a trade pass (thanks to the person who helped, you know who you are) and then I met with the Google team who needed help unloading the Google boxes from the Google van. Enough of that. I spent two hours on the Google stand sharing Chromebooks and discussing how we use Google Apps in our school. What I loved was that when I started showing one person our apps approach, 4 or 5 others would gather around to watch and listen too. I have never had 2 hours fly by so quickly, it was intense and non-stop. I don’t know how the Google guys did it for 4 days! Talking to them, I don’t think they knew either! (T-shirt count = 1)

I must say that the other highlight for me at BETT is presenting. This sounds big-headed but hey, it’s my blog. Throughout the year through my various silly projects I get an amazing level of support from some incredible people. Sometimes this means discounted or even free software, sometimes they help with sponsorship or an event or sometimes they make badges for me. (This blog post is due later). So I see BETT as a time where I can do a little bit in return. If I can do a presentation about Class PET for Scholastic and have 10 more people come to the stand, then that is a good thing. My first duty was a Teachmeet Takeover for Rising Stars. I was sharing this with Bev Evans and I discussed some free stuff to use in school. We had a crowd of around 20 people and some stuck around after to talk to the team at Rising Stars, which is great. Andrea has supported many things we’ve done so it’s always a pleasure to see her and help whenever I can!

So Friday was the day when (in the words of Bev) I turned into a software/corporate tart. After my TMTakeover I headed to BrainPOP where I swapped tshirts for an hour or so sharing how we use BrainPOP in school. I love the BrainPOP team and any time on their stand is great fun. Charlie spent a lot of her two days on there too in fact. So I swapped t-shirts (tshirt count = 2) and started talking to some people. This is hard because people assume you are trying to sell to them, which I guess in a way, I sort-of am, but I am just trying to share a great product that our children adore.

After a short time with BrainPOP it was the first of a few Class Pet demonstrations for Chris on Scholastic. Chris is another person who has helped me in loads of ways such as taking photos at the first TM Hants right through to being the first sponsor of TM Bett2012.  This is a great product that really helps with assessing maths in the classroom. The children enjoy it and one today even asked me when do they next get to go on there because they love it so much!

I also squeezed in a presentation for 2Simple about how we use Purple Mash (tshirt count = 3) and answered questions too. Out of everything, Purple Mash is the one product that I would (and did) buy and recommend for any primary school. The others I’ve mentioned are great but Mash just about edges them as it covers so much across the whole school. So I will happily discuss it with an audience and present on it whenever I am asked to.

Throughout Friday I kept having this nagging feeling that I wasn’t seeing the BETT show at all. I spent my whole time going between 4 or 5 stands, visiting people I knew, but I was fairly happy. Mainly because I knew Oliver Quinlan was exploring and snapping pictures for us all to look at later!

The evening brought the main event for me, Teachmeet. This was put together even-more-last-minute than last year and yet we felt calmer and more organised. Maybe it’s because Drew, Ian and I had sorted it last time around, maybe it was because we weren’t presenting. That honour went to Miles Berry and Dawn Hallybone.

I’m going to forget people but MASSIVE thanks to Alex Bellars, Phil and Nicky Allman, Sarah Neild, Tim Rylands, Dan Bowen, @natty08, @mrswaite, Pete Stuart, @grumbledook, Dawn Hallybone and the other 10 or so people that helped convert the Apex room from 250 chairs in rows to 25 tables of 10 in 15 minutes. Truly incredible and without you guys, it could have been a bit different!

As we weren’t presenting, we were able to flit about solving minor things and making the evening run smoothly and I know I am biased, but again…I don’t care…I felt that everything about the evening was perfect. There was a mix of primary and secondary (maybe more weighted towards primary, but last year was very secondary focussed) and there were lots of people that had never been to a Teachmeet before and also some that had never presented before! There were even some amazing trainee teachers that stood up and presented too. Kudos to them. They got a standing ovation from Dughall, Tim and Bill Lord. Not bad for your first Teachmeet is it?

One benefit of organising the Teachmeet is the ability to influence it a bit. So as the evening was drawing to a close I asked Dawn and Miles to invite three teachers up to present. These teachers (Claire, Cherise and Julie) have been planning online for weeks yet Cherise hadn’t met the other two until the evening of Teachmeet. They were nervous about presenting and sharing their project and only ‘volunteered’ because I bullied them into it. I know they had been worried all evening so I asked for them to go on last. The thought of building up to presenting and then not being chosen would be a bit too much for them (particularly Cherise!!). So they presented and they were fab. The evening was amazing and I felt very happy with it all. So to Pizza…one downside of having so many different tshirts is that both Charlie and I ended the day with BrainPOP tshirts on so we looked like we had decided to wear matching outfits. Obviously this wasn’t the case!


Overall I thought that BETT was a great experience and I want to thank everyone that I spoke to, shared with and met up with. You guys truly make it a wonderful experience 🙂 Roll on next year!

The most useful BETT blog that I’ve found is this one from Oliver Quinlan

For a round-up of other BETT posts, take a look here.

BETT – Day 1
Tuesday, January 17th, 2012 | Author:

This is the first of many BETT posts that I am going to be writing, it’s been such a busy weekend that I’ve only just had time to go through and add photos etc to the blog posts! So, to start with, Day 1. The day we took the children.

I’ve been to BETT a number of times, a few as a trainee teachee and a few as VLE consultant and once last year as a teacher but I had never taken children until this year. I thought it would be great for them to experience the sorts of exciting ICT that could be used and to as a reward for their hard work with the Digital Leader project. If nothing else, I had planned on doing some Teachmeet Takeover-style presentations but in the end we were invited to present on so many different stands that we had to turn some down! I could have accepted them all, but I thought it was important for the children to have time to wander and explore the show as well.

So who to take? The Year 5 boys were obvious choices. They have presented at a headteacher conference and at a local Teachmeet and they have showed that they can ‘blag’ it and present confidently without the need of a script at all. One did make some notes but he didn’t need them. choosing other children was a bit harder because there were so many we could have picked. In the end we were asked by Google to present on their stand so I chose the two girls that had been using Google Sites to make the newsletter FYF.

In the end the plan was to have a TeachKidsmeet Takeover on the Scholastic stand, the girls to present for Google and then I was asked to present on the Brother stand about the use of Digital Leaders in the primary school.

We spent a few weeks preparing presentations although this mainly consisted of them doing it and me checking they were OK every now and again. It wasn’t until the day before that I heard both presentations for the first time. I have faith in my children. What was the worst that could happen??

So, we set off to BETT on the Wednesday and we went with some Digital Leaders from Titchfield Primary as well as their teacher, Charlie, and some other Heads and teachers from local schools. Upon arriving the children were blown away by the sheer size of BETT. I had told them and I had shown them pictures but I don’t think they were prepared for the size of it!

Firstly, I introduced them to the key stands to find in case they got lost such as Scholastic, Google, 2Simple and Brainpop. These were all fairly central and easy to find. They also had bright colours which helped! On the way we of course managed to collect some freebies such as chocolate from Espresso and some badges from Brainpop. I had already discussed the free things at BETT and the children were fantastic throughout the day. They always asked if they could have things and used their manners too. Unlike the MANY teachers who just took things from the show! One memory is of one of my boys waiting patiently to ask a lady on a stand if he could have a chocolate while a teacher from another school (I looked at his badge) came and took a huge handful! While on the Brainpop stand we of course met Moby the robot which set the day off to a great start. We also collected the Digital Leader badges that Brainpop had made especially for us too! We wore them with pride for the rest of the day. In fact, the children haven’t taken them off at all yet!


Before our presentations we managed to have a quick chat with Andrea Carr who sponsored the very first (paper-based) issue of FYF and then we had a play on the Kinect on the Microsoft stand.


In the morning the boys presented on the Scholastic stand. They were on after the Tichfield children who were discussing blogging. We then followed this up by talking about Digital Leaders and our use of free tools such as Animoto.


I tried to take photos not just of the presentation but also of the crowd that gathered. This started small with just 4 or 5 people when Titchfield began but with persuasion, coaxing and the cuteness factor of having children, the crowd grew and grew throughout the half hour we were both on stage.

Not long after we had finished we headed over to the Google stand. Now Google had never been at BETT before so there was a fair bit of excitement surrounding their stage and it was VERY busy. I had made the decision the day before to introduce the children and give a 3-4 minute talk on Google Sites. This would give the children a chance to relax a little and they seemed to benefit from this. One of the last comments I made before handing over to them was on the sheer number of cameras and phones pointing my way. I counted the Google video camera as well as at least 8 cameraphones! Nerve-wracking for any presenter! Check out that crowd!!!


I’ll say this again a few times in this post, but the children were amazing. The girls had never used a Mac before and were a bit thrown when it came to right-clicking or copying and pasting but they managed brilliantly. We were inundated with praise in person and on Twitter throughout the day. I think that they did an amazing job.

After a spot of lunch I thought it would be good to go and see the wonderful Russell Prue and see his radio station. I thought he’d interview us but I didn’t think it would be live. 2 minutes later. The children were (once again) amazing and when asked what they thought of Gove’s speech about ICT, they replied with comments saying that ICT wasn’t boring and was actually quite good fun. They also spoke eloquently about the face we do use and teach Microsoft software but we also use free things like Google, Popplet and Prezi too. The interview was recorded so I will share that once we have the recording.


In the afternoon I presented on the Brother stand about the Digital Leaders and I probably should have got them to share it, but they were happy exploring their new bags and seeing which sweets and goodies they had collected! Our last stop was a quick visit to the Uniservity stand to see Susan Banister and Lara Savory as I knew they had some plant seeds for the children. Whilst there we got a phone call from Charlie saying that Prince Andrew was on his way and we were needed for some handshaking and meeting/greeting! So we ran through Olympia and made our way to the stand to meet the Prince.

He was there to launch some assessment software but I don’t think he had ever seen it before. But hey, the children got to chat to a Prince for 15minutes or so. Although when Charlie asked her children what was their highlight…they said meeting Moby!!


Looking back, I can’t believe just how much we managed to fit into one day! No wonder I felt shattered for the next few days!!! The children were incredible and they have blogged about it here and here.

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012 | Author:

Ok, I’m not really sure how this happened but it appears I have been shortlisted. I’ve only got and got a nomination for the Learning Without Frontiers awards. I’ve been nominated in the category of Primary Innovator which sounds pretty good to me! I’m up against two people that I admire a great deal and would definitely call them my friends. David Mitchell is best known for his blogging work with Quad Blogging or Feb29th and Chris Leach is the brains behind loads of silly ideas (just like me) such as recording the Christmas Carol or  introducing children to music through Polyphonic Kids.

The judges that nominated us are a great bunch of people and I particularly like Tony Parkin’s job title!

I’m not expecting to win, but I’ve never been shortlisted before and I want to say a huge thank you to anyone that has voted for me or whoever put my name forward in the first place!

To vote for me, or Chris or David, then click this link.

Google Teacher Academy Returns!
Tuesday, January 10th, 2012 | Author:

Just a quick post to say that there will be another Google Teacher Academy in the UK this year. Full details can be found here: but it is well worth applying. I found it to be a full-on day of innovation, enthusiasm and ideas with some of the best teachers in the country.I loved every second of it and I would urge you to apply if you get chance.

My blog posts about it are here:

Edit: It’s cringeworthy now, but here is my video from two years ago…I must say that I wasn’t going to apply and it wasn’t until the last minute (literally completing it with half an hour to spare) that I finished my video. I had intended using Animoto for a 60second video until I realised that my account only gave me 30 seconds so I needed to make a few and chop them together. The video is painful to watch, but it got me in, so I must have done something right?!?

Hashtag Craziness #tbett
Saturday, January 07th, 2012 | Author:

As you may have noticed, there are lots of hashtags circling around for the BETT Show.

We have the official one (#Bett_show) and lots of unofficial ones too including #bett12, #bett2012, #bett and #bettshow. If you look through the hashtags then there are obviously lots of companies promoting their stands and their products, so how can teachers share ideas with each other about what they’ve found without it getting lost amongst the promotional tweets? Simple, we make a teachers at Bett hashtag. It isn’t my idea, but as I seem to be organising silly things at Bett, I thought I’d share it with you.

The new hashtag for teachers at Bett is #tbett. It’s short, there’s no silly underscore and we can archive it for all the useful goodness we find this week.

Tony aka Grumbledook blogged about hashtags too here:

BETT for Beginners
Sunday, January 01st, 2012 | Author:

I originally posted this last year but I thought I should edit it slightly and repost it for people that are new to BETT.

This post is a beginner’s guide to Bett. I’m sure there are others out there, but here is mine. Before I start, I have been to Bett as a trainee teacher twice, as a VLE consultant twice and once last year as a teacher. I never attended while in my previous teaching post due to a lack of money and a lack of awareness of Teachmeet events and the like. This time, we are still in the ‘no money’ situation, but I am keen to attend to meet up with my fellow Twitter educators and to get involved in as many events to share ideas as I can. So here goes…

Before the show:

  1. Book a ticket. It helps to have one as your line will move quicker. The Bett website is here so go on, go and sign up.
  2. Plan your day/s. Why are you there? What do you want to see? Who do you need to go and speak to? Especially in these ‘financially uncertain times’, what will you be taking back to school? They’ve spent £xx covering your class, so you need to go back with something to show for it. Make sure your day is well planed and you’ll be fine.
  3. Also plan in rest stops. But why not plan these to coincide with a Teachmeet Takeover? Two years ago I sat and had lunch while watching @tombarrett share Maths Maps and last year I did the same while listening to the wonderful Bill Lord (@joga5)
  4. Do some research! There are some great show-only deals available, but there’s no point negotiating if you don’t know the normal price. Think of it like the DFS sale. There might be a great sale price available, but is it always that price? Have they only knocked £5 off for Bett? Knowing your stuff before you go will help. When you’re at Bett your mind will be in a bit of a daze from the sights/sounds so trial some software, look at some prices etc.
  5. Ask your staff what they would like to find out. Does the literacy coordinator need to look at e-books? Does the SEN coordinator need some software to help writing? Ask the staff and that may help your plan.
  6. Look at the seminar list. Yes, you may need to pay for some of these, but some will be great and well worth it.
  7. Make business cards. Now this is where opinion will get divided. Some will mock me for suggesting such an old-fashioned approach, some will say ‘I’m not important enough for a card’. I say neither am I. My cards have my name, position, school, blog and twitter name on. That’s it. If you meet someone and want to follow them/swap ideas, why not just pass them a card? The cards are also useful should you want to enter a competition as some stands have jars for you to put your name/card in to enter their prize draw. I’d also take a small stapler as suggested by Terry Freedman so you can staple your card to a prize entry from. You could also make your cards a little different, why not add your Twitter avatar, especially if it isn’t a photo and why not add a QR code that links to your blog? Google will help you to find a QR code generator here.
  8. Get a spare battery/charger. Your phone will run out. You’ll be trying to tweet all day so it will probably run out. The memory from Bett2010 was @lisibo asking anyone and everyone if they had a plug so she could charge her iphone (and being told to move for being a fire hazard). Buy a spare battery (and charge it). You’ll need it come 3/4pm. Especially if you attend an evening event! Update – Chris Ratcliffe (@chrisrat) says you can charge your Android or iPhone at the Scholastic stand. This is perfect as they are hosting lots of Teachmeet Takeovers too. Again, you can charge and get CPD at once. *Bear in mind, the signal inside Olympia is shocking!
  9. **Check tube trains, there was talk of it not being possible to get a tube to Olympia. Try Hammersmith,Earl’s Court or Kensington High Street instead**

On the day:

  1. Buy some water and a snack. The food and drink inside Olympia is quite pricey so grab yourself some water beforehand. – There will be FREE bottles of water on the Espresso stand (as well as yummy chocolate) and 2simple have a water fountain which is also free.
  2. Display your name/twitter name so people can see who you are. I can’t remember how many times I’ve met someone whose name and twitter name don’t match and I’ve spent ages trying to marry the two together. There are loads of people, so grab a marker pen and write your Twitter name on your badge. (Or copy @dughall with this snazzy jumper)
  3. If you need a friend, come and visit us. Quite often people attend Bett on their own. This could be because of cost so why not pair up with someone else when you get there? To find people head to a Teachmeet takeover or head to Brainpop’s stand or Scholastic or 2Simple. There always tend to be lots of Twitter users around those stands. You can then say hello to people and feel less alone. I’m on the Brainpop stand on Friday afternoon, come and say hi!
  4. Get your bearings. Bett is big and can be scary. There are lights, colours, sounds everywhere. Spend a while getting used to it. Walk from one room to another, find the stairs, the toilets. Look for a key stand e.g. Microsoft, Scholastic, 2Simple that will help you get your bearings as you walk around. Then you can start to follow your plan.
  5. It’s like a theme park, at lunchtimes the cafes are busy. Don’t go there at lunchtime. Silly but it’s true. It’s also expensive so, as above, take a snack/picnic.
  6. Wear sensible clothes. You don’t need a suit. You’re not presenting/selling anything so get comfortable. Wear shoes you can walk in for 8hours. Take a jacket you can carry when you get hot (which you will). You can put stuff in the cloakroom, but again, you’ll be queueing and paying.
  7. Don’t get offended by Twitter. I’ve had a few occasions when I’ve met someone who was following me but I didn’t know who they were and vice versa. It’ll happen. Say hello, apologise to them or ask them what they do. Then remedy the situation by following them. If they aren’t very interesting, unfollow later. Twitter is a huge place and I’m sure you’ve missed someone or other, don’t worry about it.
  8. Don’t worry if you miss people or don’t get much chance to speak to them. I spoke to Mark Warner for about 5 seconds at Bett2010 and barely got chance to say hello to Phil and Nicki Allman and Simon McCloughlin last year. It’s a busy place, you can’t meet everyone. There’s always next year right?
  9. Don’t worry if people seem pushy. Politely take their leaflet or tell them you’re not interested and move on. Sometimes people are rude and noone wants to see that. I tend to sit down for 5mins and empty my bag of everything and then put the interesting stuff back in and the rubbish in the bin. There’s a lot of rubbish, but some great hidden treats too.
  10. Oh, if you ignore your plan (as I have done a few times), don’t worry. Of course something caught your eye. Don’t worry that you sat and watched a 3D presentation or joined in a competition to win a whiteboard or whatever. It’ll happen.
  11. Don’t worry that you forgot to tweet about what you saw or who you met. Do it later.
  12. Enjoy yourself! Yes it’s big, yes it’s overwhelming, but I enjoy it. Mainly because of the underground events and meeting people, but still. It’s good fun.
  13. Attend at least one Teachmeet Takeover if you can.
  14. Oh and yes, there will be free stuff. Yes you can get pens and badges and sweets, but please, please DON’T be the idiot that goes crazy. Last year I saw someone walk up to the 2Simple stand, tip the entire cup of pens into their bag and try and walk away. Take one, look at the products if you feel you have to, but don’t take the Michael. Plus, you are a teacher! There are always pens at school. It’s more fun trying to find weird and wonderful freebies instead, such as Squidgy Pig.

After Bett:

  1. Take stock of what you’ve seen. What did you learn? Blog about it. Don’t have a blog? Start one.
  2. Tweet people to say hello. You’ll have got new followers and you’ll be following new people. Say hi to them.
  3. Follow up the free trials and contacts you’ve made. Have a play with new software and share it with colleagues. If a company says you have 2 weeks from the BEtt show to try it and buy it, tell them you need more time. You’re a busy person after all. Don’t be swayed too much by the ‘sales’ and stuff, the software isn’t going anywhere.
  4. Look up the materials from Teachmeet. I’ll post those on here so don’t worry!

This all sounds like a lot, but it is mostly common sense and stuff that I’ve picked up along the way. Do you have any other tips for Bett newbies? Is there something I’ve missed?

More tips for beginners here


On last year’s post, some people left comments, so here’s my pick of the best/most useful:

Mike Mcsharry

Food in Olympia is poor (at best).

There is a large Tesco with a decent takeaway food section within a reasonable walking distance. In my experience the local cafes and foodshops nearby are expensive and have poor selection.

If you don’t want to use the tube (and bear in mind you can wait a long time for tube trains at Olympia) then investigate the Southern Rail service – which goes as far north as Milton Keynes. (I never thought I’d write North and Milton Keynes in the same sentence). Tube train Olympia – Earls Court typically is a shuttle service that moves when it’s full.

Wear comfy shoes and don’t let the sales guys drag you on to their ‘you mustn’t miss this fantastic seminar’ sales pitch.

Dave Colman – More tips for BETT can be found at

Richard Anderson – I’ve always found that the main problem with BETT actually occurs post-BETT; you need to plan in time to actually look through the contacts and materials you’ve collected. It’s easy to let a few weeks pass by. If you’re staying down in London, take some time before dinner (or on the train home) to sort through the materials and condense them down into the stuff you’re genuinely interested in / genuinely able to afford.  (Ian – I find emptying the bag before you head back home helps with carrying bags full of junk!)







Category: blogposts, Conferences / BETT  | Tags:  | 11 Comments
Teachmeet at Bett2012
Monday, December 12th, 2011 | Author:

This time of year comes around very quickly. No not the Christmas thing, the Teachmeet at Bett thing. Somehow, like last year, I have had a small part in helping to organise is. Just like last year we started discussing it ages ago yet we reach December and we’re only just letting other people know about it! Oops…

Anyway, for those that don’t know, there is a Teachmeet event on the Friday night at the Bett show and this involves teachers sharing ideas with each other. My first-ever Teachmeet was at Bett2010 and I was the first up to present!

This year we are following many of the same procedures we started last year. The tickets are available through Eventbrite and they are available to teachers first. Later we will open this up to advisors and other people but for now, it’s all about the teachers!

So sign up quick. There are limited places and it always fills the room.

For more details check out the Teachmeet wiki and why not sign up to do a presentation? It would be AMAZING to get some new people presenting this year. I promise it isn’t that scary. It’s only 7 (or even 2) minutes long.

Anyway, for a more informative post, check out Ian Usher’s which is over here and I hope to see you all at Teachmeet, the Takeovers or somewhere else at the BETT show!