The doors are closed, stands packed away and exhibitors and delegates alike are probably still feeling the effects of two days trudging the ExCel halls. It was great to be back for an in-person BETT 2022, and following a whirlwind couple of days we wanted to reflect on some of the great work going on in the industry to ensure educators, institutions and students are equipped to succeed both today and in the future.
It’s no exaggeration to say that the global shift to remote and hybrid learning during the pandemic has fundamentally reshaped the face of education, changing how students learn – and transforming how educators teach. And, across the event we saw great examples of companies who are leading the charge in education innovation, driving positive change for their students, and adapting to the challenges and opportunities of the past two years. Looking ahead, it’s clear that digital transformation is going to play a key role in underpinning the entire learner journey.
Importantly, we saw a firm focus on skills at the show, including from Amazon Web Services – who led a great session on inspiring the next generation of tech talent and the importance of equipping all students with digital skills. We had plenty of discussion on skills ourselves – with customers, partners and the wider industry – following our recent report on Careers Readiness. In our study, students called for more work experience and ‘authentic’ tasks like those they might experience during employment – and the good news is we saw plenty of educators at the show committing to authentic learning opportunities in the year ahead.
Another place where authenticity was discussed was in the area of assessment. The e-assessment Association’s panel featuring our own CEO, Shane Sutherland, together with colleagues from the Academies Enterprise Trust, NCFE and Learnosity, looked at how educators can harness authentic assessment practices to help develop skilled, capable and confident students and graduate. The group looked at the idea that assessment which demonstrates the purposeful application of knowledge in practice is increasingly more important than knowledge recall. In short – the expert panel agreed that knowing ‘stuff’ is important, but knowing how to apply that ‘stuff’, in different contexts, is invaluable. In helping students develop, be credited with, and most importantly, articulate their skills and attributes, authentic learning and assessment practices need to be embedded throughout the entire learning journey, providing learners ample and repeated opportunities to plan for, record and reflect on their progression and achievement.
Finally, we were pleased to see a renewed focus on closing the digital divide – bringing technology in education to all students, from all walks of life, A panel chaired by James Garnett, the Programme Lead for the EdTech Demonstrator Programme, discussed this issue – and, more broadly, assessed how educators can leverage the benefits of technology to improve pupil outcomes. It’s important, say the group, to look beyond a strategy of ‘just’ providing devices, towards an approach which looks at a broad range of institution-wide digital tools such as learning management platforms, collaboration systems and e-portfolios, which touch on every aspect of a students’ learning journey.
So, we were delighted to be part of another interesting and lively BETT show, which was jam packed of great ideas and stories of educational innovation. And, we’re looking forward to see what the remainder of 2022 holds with great minds at the helm!