Bett Show 2022: the digested version

2022’s Bett Show will reunite the education sector in person after a year of disruption – and this time it boasts a new, dedicated higher education space. Anna Britten picks out some highlights to add to your calendar

Even the fiercest advocates of digital-everything can’t resist a good, old-fashioned face-to-face get-together.

And so it is with Bett, the edtech world’s leading trade show, finally back in the flesh again after last year’s excellent but sadly online event. This year’s return also had a wobble, with a postponement from the original January dates due to concerns around the Omicron variant.

For even seasoned trade show-goers, it’s all too easy to visit Bett and instantly get lost in the hubbub of the two enormous halls of the ExCel centre, emerging three days later with a free tote bagful of leaflets and business cards but only a hazy memory of what you actually saw… and what you’re supposed to do next.

We’re here to help.

What speakers and exhibitors are of most interest to university leaders specifically?

Well, for starters, this year organisers are launching Ahead By Bett – which is a dedicated space aimed at the higher education sector in collaboration with Jisc, Ucisa and Universities UK.

With an overarching theme of ‘create the future’, Ahead By Bett takes the form of three days of content at the show, across three spaces: The Auditorium, where you can listen to a range of VIP speakers; The Sandbox, where you can get hands-on with new tech; and The Collaboration Space for networking sessions and roundtable discussions.

We’ve digested the whole Ahead By Bett agenda for you, and here’s what we think you should prioritise if your time at the show is limited.

Speakers: UB’s picks

Over 50 speakers will be sharing their expertise during Ahead By Bett, but if you watch them all you’ll have no time for anything else (including picking up that free tote bag).

Naturally, we’ll be making a beeline for the three vice-chancellors organisers have managed to bag for this year’s event.

Vice-chancellor and president of the University of East London Professor Amanda J Broderick will be speaking about the diversity of the future talent pipeline.

She’ll be followed by the University of Westminster’s vice-chancellor and president, Dr Peter Bonfield, on what a future of blended and hybrid learning may look like.

Also recommended is the keynote address by journalist and author Matthew Syed on how senior leaders can harness psychology, anthropology and data science to boost their institution’s performance and protect its future.

Also taking the stage will be several other senior IT/digital learning figures within universities as well as leaders of key sector organisations – such as Universities UK International, Jisc, The E-Assessment Association and Ucisa (whose CEO, Deborah Green, is always worth listening to) – and sundry edtech suppliers.

Exhibitors: UB’s picks

Within the Ahead By Bett section of Bett, you’ll find stands from tech giants Microsoft, Zoom, Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services, as well as pillars of the higher ed world Universities UK, Jisc and Ucisa.

But there’s also a number of lesser-known and fascinating edtech suppliers well worth checking out, including tiny, London-based VR specialists Bodyswaps, whose new VR job interview simulator was launched this summer and promises to help university heads of careers services, and their students, compensate for the lack of face-to-face mock interview practice during the pandemic.

If you teach performing arts, foreign languages, or any course involving communication/presentation skills (including to trainee teachers), we suggest you swing by US video feedback experts GoReact, whose software helps you critique student presentations – and so affordably it reckons it can pay for itself in one term.

We’re also singling out Copenhagen-based Labster, whose cutting-edge virtual laboratory uses immersive, gamified simulations for when students can’t access a physical science lab, or when you need to teach at scale, or get students to do things that aren’t easy/practical to do in the lab.

And finally, if you’re a business school, or business course leader, and you haven’t yet seen the training courses run by Unicorn Simulations – including fun, strategic simulations that get students teaming up to manage an airport or an insurance company – definitely fit in a quick word with them too.

And finally, the University Business team – along with sister titles Education Technology and Independent Education Today – will be at Bett too.

Be sure to stop us and say hi.

Bett 2022 is at the ExCeL London from 23–25 March 2022


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