Friday 24 January 2014

BETT Conference 2014

Crowds drawn to the Google stall for
Paganel's chromebook presentation 
As  a British Education and Training Technology (UK exhibition) virgin, I was not disappointed by the scope and size of this huge event in ExCel, London.  I have already written a storify story for University of Birmingham - here are some more personal thoughts:

Is it rose-tinted google glasses or is the void between Mac and others a little less?  From an elearning developer perspective, it's great to see more compatibility between more devices.  I know I'm a little green, but it's strange to me how able some businesses are to manipulate markets, by building in incompatibility to force us to buy more and more of their products.  I can see this might please retailers, bigger purchasers and all the others interested in us buying more things, but how is it responding to market needs?  The consumer doesn't get what they want, but keeps coming back to buy more.  Oh, hold on a bit, is that bad capitalism?
'Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society...Production is carried on for profit, not for use.'
Albert Einstein - Albert goes on to say
'Our whole educational system suffers from this evil. An exaggerated competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to worship acquisitive success as a preparation for his future career'.  

He's touching on far broader themes but to go back to when goods no longer meet their purpose - that's the danger at an Ed Tech show. New stuff is great - I love gadgets, but where are the learners?

It is understandable that Ed Tech suppliers and services are keen to appeal to teachers and educators directly, but if your primary purpose was to 'effective education', then you'd want to see the products being used by those learners first - measure the effectiveness with the intended market, unless your interests were slipping towards profit and not use.  The presentations in the main Arena and elsewhere were more properly 'evidenced', sometimes directly with the presence of young people, but where were the young people in the audiences, on the stalls, all around?

Lego with my favourite (and cheapest) gadget -
a camera on a wire thing (£30)
I took a photo of our group of Yr6 children playing with Lego and its software to make cartoons in storytelling - one of the stalls they were attracted to.  After 5 minutes, a man on the stall politely asked us to move off the computer so a 'real customer' could have a go.  I didn't challenge him, which looking back I should have, and possibly the children didn't even notice.  The new customer didn't show quite the same joy and curiosity in play the children did, but maybe he bought a school load of stuff.

Children take questions from the audience
It was pretty hectic at the event, and wouldn't have been half as much fun (or learning?) for me if I hadn't gone with Paganel School - Thanks again!

Paganel Primary School also did two fantastic presentations - one on Paganel Archives led by the children, and one led by Mr Philp on the virtues of chromebooks.  Mr. Philp also did something on Raising standards with Technology, but I didn't go to that one.  Below, film clips, links, more photos, thanks to Paganel Archives:

Thursday 16 January 2014

Swan Corner Community Group

BCC Location of road injuries, 2010-2012.
Jago, my son, is the purple blob in the
middle of Brook Lane 
On Tuesday 28th Jan 2014, 7:30 to 9:30 Swan Corner Community Group will meet/ drop-in for the first time.  It feels like a significant step for me - being more involved in caring for my immediate local area, and taking more responsibility with our neighbours.

As with all groups, it was a particular issue which brought it about - planned road improvements.  But as we began talking to each other more issues were raised, and the more the need for a community group grew:

  • Planned road improvements and immediate effect on roads leading to the roundabout
  • Waste ground around the pub, anti-social behaviour and community planting plans
  • Parking for parents of Swanshurst causes problems at pick up and drop down
  • Increase in burglaries locally
  • Road accidents along our roads and the citywide 20mph plans
  • Larger 'Long Park Corridor' project 
  • Sustrans project improving access for cyclists and pedestrians
  • More street play for our children

Locally I've helped set up community groups before - Kings Heath Community Centre Garden Club, KHCC Stay & Play, and Hall Green Arts Forum, all of which were exciting and challenging.  With all those groups it was primarily about having some fun, either with kids and/or creative stuff, with people who wanted similar things.  Is Swan Corner different?  Is there enough shared to bring us together, or will our different interests and huge agenda be too much?

Looking forward to Tuesday 28th!