This month will see the opening of the UK's foremost educational technology show. Ben Furfie takes a look at a show with a strong presence from a wide variety of newcomers and increased opportunities for resellers ? even those without an educational background?

You can BETT on education

This year’s BETT show is set to be a more open affair than in previous years thanks to changes in the education system, with organisers EMAP Connect claiming that the 2009 event takes place when there has never been a better opportunity to break into the educational technology market. "Things are changing," EMAP Connect’s marketing manager Keith Clifford tells PC Retail.

"It is a really exciting time to be in the market. The combination of the Government finally scrapping eLearning Credits – a scheme that created huge barriers to entry into the market – and the rise of low cost laptops has created a market where businesses that traditionally would not have been able to get into it are now able to.

"This year, hardware will be huge. Asus and Intel are both exhibiting for the first time and we’re seeing interest from consumer focused brands that have had a presence previously, but are taking out their own stands, such as O2," adds Clifford.

There are problems with this increase in technology, especially in terms of implementation. Because of their portable nature, laptops and netbooks are at particular risk of being targeted by thieves. Monarch Computer Furniture – which will be exhibiting – believes that those resellers attending have to aware of the issues facing modern educational establishments.

"BETT is incredibly important for us," comments Monarch’s IT furniture manager Marvin Douglas. "I feel that it is the one place where we can get face to face, not just with teachers, LEA’s and school IT managers, but also the people who sell the products to the schools. It also allows us to explain the unique requirements of the education sector.

"The key thing about storage isn’t security. The heavier steel doors of alternative products are no more protected against theft than ours from a determined thief with a crowbar, and just make it more difficult for children to move the things around; after all, they are supposed to be portable," adds Douglas. "It is important to have security, but it is also important to recognise the potential limitations that the product might have."

Fellow exhibitor Asus agrees: "As schools and local authorities continually develop their IT infrastructures, it is imperative that they invest in lockable storage for their devices," comments a spokesman for the firm. "Monarch has dedicated considerable resources to delivering a range of netbook and laptop storage solutions tailored for the education market. By listening to its customers it has made notable improvements to energy consumption, cable management and ruggedness."

He also underlined that the firm had developed solutions based on what was likely to happen, rather than what has happened.

BETT will take place on January 14th to the 17th at the Olympia in London and will see the biggest names in the education market gather in one place, making it the ideal platform to network and develop contacts.

For more information, or to register to attend, visit Alternatively, you can ring EMAP Connect on +44 (0) 870 3146 204.

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