Written by Sophie Hodgson
Only in college, but still, in my dim and distant memory, I recall a life before email and access to information that involved a three-hour book hunt in the library.
Was my education better or worse for this? I honestly have no idea. I guess its delivery was relevant to that time. Technology had yet to pervade our everyday lives and so my primitive understanding of email (gleamed largely to facilitate flirting with a boy I had a crush on) was neither here nor there.
Fast forward to now and clearly my tale is laughable. Children today use Skype, Google Apps and code their own websites before they are even ten. Kids as young as seven monitor for anonymous proxies as they are released in order to circumnavigate security controls and settings. They are surely the most intuitive, relentless and determined IT users you’re likely to meet. Not only are their expectations sky high, but they are formidable opponents for any IT manager or tech vendor.
How technology has changed education is nothing short of exhilarating, and that is why I am looking forward to this year’s BETT Show. Last year, the focus was all about the curriculum change that would come into effect, so what’s this year’s buzz going to be about? Could it be a look at the progress that’s been made to date? Will it be about the changes that the election could ring in? Or perhaps discussion will be about whether you can really ever create a child-friendly internet (*waves at Google*).
There are so many issues that frankly who knows which one will take centre stage. That is why BETT, and the education tech market as a whole, is so exciting. Empowering and inspiring the next generation and shaping their thought processes and development isn’t something that can be taken lightly. Therefore, I personally (as the mother of a two year old) will be looking at how the ‘big boys’ – Microsoft et al – plan to live up to their duty of care.
And that’s the thing about entering and surviving in the education sector. Not only does your technology have to be pretty special, it also has to be able to stand up to speculation from a bevvy of stakeholders. From IT managers to parents and boards of governors; they might not have a direct say in signing the cheque but their unspoken power is significant. Companies operating in this space want to be creative, but often wider political agenda items take the wind out of their sails. For me, visual content has a huge role to play over the coming year in helping technology vendors targeting the education space to simplify their messages and give them more impact. Agree or disagree, if you are attending BETT and fancy a coffee and a chat about PR, then give me a shout!