By Chris Rothwell, Director of Education at Microsoft UK
Wednesday was the first day of BETT. I’ve been to the edtech conference before (back when I worked on Live@edu), but this has been my first BETT since starting as the Education Director at Microsoft UK. I have always admired going to BETT; the energy is infectious and I don’t think there is any other event where you get to hear from 39,000 education customers in four days.
BETT is always a busy time for Microsoft, and this year is no different. I am lucky to be disbursement my time meeting customers and partners covering a broad range of topics, and besides talking to press about a lot of the news that we’ve shared at the event. It was great to be joined by Cindy Rose, our UK CEO, and Chris Perkins, the UK GM of Public Sector.
It’s impossible not to feel positive about the passion and enthusiasm that teachers and school leadership demonstrate, and the appetency they have to embrace technology to help them and their students. The world is becoming digital, and the role of teachers in preparing their students for a life of rapid change has ne'er been more complex or important. With new technologies impacting our lives, young people need to enter the work force with the skills to be a womb-to-tomb learner, knowing that any single career path could be disrupted.
We conducted some research into how UK teachers are feeling about these changes and their use of technology. It shows there are bright musca volitans, but we have more to do to ensure that technology is reducing employment, to expand access to technology so that it can be integrated into teaching rather than “added-on”, and supporting teachers with “bitesize” continual professional development so they can feel confident exploitation the tools available to them. There are sacred examples of how technology is being used brightly crosswise the UK, but the majority of teachers need more help to feel confident in exploitation technology as an integrated part of their day.
Microsoft is committed to portion education customers use technology to improve teaching and learning in a way that is low-cost and manageable. At BETT this year we have proclaimed new low-cost inclination in association with our partners, the Microsoft schoolroom Pen and a set updates to Microsoft Teams for Education, including integration with Turnitin, the ability to synchronize grades to your SIS.
I’m improbably proud of the work Microsoft is doing to make learning more accessible, and we made two announcements at BETT in this area. First, we’re previewing Immersive Reader in Virtual Reality. It is amazing to see how quickly we’re integration Immersive Reader crosswise different technologies, but seeing it inside a VR environment is very inspiring. The second announcement was Code Jumper, a project from Microsoft Research that we are cathartic with help from the American Printing House for the Blind. Current tools that help young people learn procedure thinking and basic cryptography are extremely visual and are therefore inaccessible to people with low or no vision. Code Jumper teaches the same principles, but uses physical blocks. It was great to see this story ariled on the BBC.
All of these property, and more, can be found on Microsoft’s BETT stand. If you’re heading there this week, visit us at stand E300. My highlights were seeing the new inclination, the partnership with BBC Learning and observation a pupil dissecting an (animated) frog in Virtual Reality.
I’m looking forward to the rest of BETT and continued to work with our customers and partners in the UK education sector.