Monday, 17 January 2011

A few neat products at BETT 2011

Each year, it seems that most of what is on offer at BETT is slightly better or more refined versions of the same things, but this year a few products represented more than just gentle evolution.

First, Casio were showing their new Projector which is based on a long-life LED-based light source rather than a conventional bulb. They claim that the projector will keep shining brightly for around 15 years based on a normal school day. The device itself is extremely slim and quiet and gave a remarkable quality image when displaying high definition video. Casio website

The second product that caught my eye was iRIS Connect, which is a web based professional development tool for evaluation and self evaluation of teaching. A high quality remote controlled video camera with good sound pick-up from a teacher microphone means that an observer can ensure that all aspects of the lesson can be recorded and timestamped against a lesson plan. Teachers can use this by themselves for their own reflective practice, or in conjunction with peer reviews and mentoring programmes. I saw some potential for very similar technology to be used for recording parts of lessons for access by students who either might otherwise have missed a lesson or for revising the lesson content at a later date. iRIS Connect website.

Next, I was particularly struck by a new take on interactive response systems from Jordanian company Ketab Technologies. Unlike the typical handheld devices with number buttons, their system works with paper pads and digital capture pens that write with real ink like any ballpoint pen. This means that the teacher can bring up on the screen an individual pupil's long-hand answers, maths working out, or sketches. Using the pre-printed pads, all the normal multiple choice responses are available too. Ketab Technologies Website

Finally, the wireless slate (or portable Interactive Whiteboard) has really come of age with the latest product from eInstruction, the same team that developed the concept of the wireless slate as an alternative to the IWB ten years ago). This version, the Mobi View, incorporates a small touch-sensitive screen much like a smart-phone from which you can type using the on-screen keyboard, or launch different applications. A dream to use. eInstruction Mobi View website.