BETT 2014 review: BYOD dominates

Paul Milligan takes a look at what was on offer at the BETT exhibition in London, and finds that BYOD dominated proceedings wherever he went.

This year’s BETT show in London was as busy as ever, and remains one of the most hectic show floors in the AV exhibition calendar, with a real buzz evident on the first two days especially.

The biggest theme running through the show was BYOD, which is probably no surprise to anyone. Every hardware vendor was keen to talk about the growing use of tablets in the classroom and how their products fitted into that.   BYOD has caused a huge ripple in the AV world, and the education sector is no different, so the search is on for a sensible, well-priced solution for classrooms to cope with BYOD.

The rise of BYOD is especially good news for the likes of Samsung, who manufactures its own tablet (the Galaxy Tab) so is able to leverage sales of other kit, such as digital signage, videowalls and Chrome notebooks off the back of customer enquiries on tablets. 

Another noticeable aspect of Samsung’s presence at the show was the sheer vastness of its stand, which is the biggest its ever had at BETT. This is a sure sign of how serious Samsung is now taking the education market.

In stark contrast was the stand of Smart, who used to have the biggest stand at the show every year, but had a really small presence this time, tucked away in the corner of the hall.
Which doesn’t inspire a huge amount of confidence, given it’s really the only market the company serves.

No visit to BETT would be complete without a visit to the big two of Smart and Promethean however, and both were keen to talk about new cloud-based software offerings.

Smart were launching Amp and Promethean were launching ClassFlow.  Both offerings are a reaction to the growth of BYOD in the classroom, but also point to a possible hardware-less future for both companies. Both have a huge database of teachers using their online communities for exchanging lesson plans etc so it would make sense for both to look to software for the companies future prosperity. Especially in the face of falling IWB sales and rising interactive flat panel sales from the likes of Sahara and Samsung. 

Crucially, and in a change of policy for both companies, the two systems are both open platforms. Which will be music to the ears of schools with a mix of both manufacturer’s products.

Amp connects a variety of different devices to a collaborative workspace where students can work together and teachers can upload lesson material and conduct real-time assessments. Smart Notebook files can be used within Amp, as well as any third-party content.  Amp is also compatible with Google, so users can login with their Google ID and save 35GB of files on Google Drive for free.

ClassFlow is a cloud-based classroom orchestration tool that enables teachers to create lessons, deliver interactive content across multiple devices, and assess student understanding.   ClassFlow supports Dropbox, Google Drive, and Skydrive for interactive lesson plan storage, and Facebook, Twitter, and e-mail as platforms for sharing lessons. 

ClassFlow software is available to download now for free but Promethean has also launched two paid-for ClassFlow products: ClassFlow Teacher app allows the teacher to manage lesson presentation and send lesson material being displayed in the front of class to student devices. The new ClassFlow Student app allows the student to receive and annotate lesson material on mobile devices, respond to questions, create original material and send their work to the teacher.

It has been mooted for nearly 18 months, but Casio finally had an Ultra Short-Throw (UST) LED/laser projector to show on its stand at BETT. One of only 2 demo models in the world, the projector on the stand produced excellent vivid colours for a laser/LED projector. It is available to order from April, and will be on the company’s stand at ISE in February.