For the first time ever, Cleveratom became an exhibitor in their own right at the BETT show in Olympia during the week of 9th January 2008. This involved renting the space ( a shell scheme area 4m x 4m on the main hall gallery outside the organisers’ office), creating a stand and buying the graphics and frames needed, and renting the remainder of the equipment. It was a small fortune to do, but overall very worthwhile.
The event itself is huge. Now easily filling both the Grand hall and the National hall, plus both galleries, there are probably a thousand companies hawking their wares and services. In addition, the feature stand in the main hall showcases a number of different approaches to education – this year the message was ‘Learner Voice’. Headed up by Stephen Heppell, the feature stand involved a number of different consultants and practitioners giving talks and presentations, but also hosted some groups of children making use of hardware to do some tasks such as film making with a sony PSP (yep – a PSP.. just add a camera!), using interactive whiteboards and the fabulous Asus EeePC. I was delighted to be a presenter on that stand on each day of the show.
The Cleveratom stand had a large number of visitors despite not being in a particularly busy area. Friends from previous projects appeared over the four days and we were reminded of just how busy the company has been. Older friends from Ultralab days were welcomed, too and we hope more people are now aware of just what it is we can do to hep them integrate learning and ICT more effectively.
We were showcasing a single product on our stand – PLiP – in conjunction with Edison Schools. The PLiP tool (Personalised Learning in Practice) is the software we created to support the process which Edison professionals deliver in schools. We were delighted to have Kevin, Tim, Deborah, Sue and Julie supporting us on the stand and helping to promote the process.
My overriding memory of the week is that there is a lot still to do to encourage people to engage with personalisation of learning and not make it become a buzz phrase – learner voice is equally important and we have to guard against tokenistic approaches to this, too. many companies are developing virtual learning solutions but to many are still trying to build a walled garden for the learner, replicating the functionality of the social spaces that children gravitate towards and therefore introducing a layer of complexity that doesn’t necessarily need to be there. There are some chinks of light in the forest of VLE, though. Notable is Dan Sivak and his company ‘CDSM’ with the ‘My Learning Space’ product, and ‘LP+’ which appears to have risen from almost nowhere to prominence in a very short time.
As the coming weeks unfold, more reflection on the show will appear and perhaps more sense will be made of what was a very hectic time. On a more personal level I want to remember to use soft soles on my shoes in future, and add insoles to those, too! Also, a big thank you to Matt Eaves, Alex Blanc, Nick Platts and Hais Deakin for working so hard throughout the week. Additionally, I’d like to thank Jack and colleagues from Skyline Whitespace who helped us make sense of the frames we used for the stand, and to Skyline for helping us achieve a very special look and feel to the space.Â