Learning with Minecraft, printing documents using a cycling machine – here's our roundup

7 highlights from BETT 2015

PCR’s Phil Tottman pays a visit to the London ExCeL convention to check out all the educational tech at the 2015 BETT show.

I couldn’t help but feel a little envious of the students of today, as there are endless ways that tech companies are making education more interesting and interactive.

If I had half of the incentives there are now to go to school, I might have actually learned something.

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Here are seven things I actually learnt at this year’s BETT show at London’s ExCeL:

1. Minecraft in education

Microsoft’s stand showed off the cartoony building game – and one I have only recently got into. Not being much of a gamer, when I played it I felt a little guilty that I am wasting time. But it’s actually beneficial in education.

From being used to encourage budding developers or architects to solving maths equations, students are able to develop their individual problem-solving skills as well as work in teams to tackle larger challenges – and play Minecraft at the same time.

2. Edu-Google-cation

Google apps have tools made especially for schools such as email, calendar and documents. The apps are designed for collaboration and built for the web so everyone can work together using numerous devices.

Currently there are 30 million students and teachers using Google apps for education, and 700,000 educational videos on YouTube EDU.

3. Pedal-Printing

Dumfries and Galloway Council teamed up with Epson to bring pedal-powered printers to the show. Six Workforce Pro WF-5690 printers were hooked up to draw power from push-bikes all equipped with dynamos.

The aim of this was to make students aware of energy use, and to encourage them to adopt the printing tech, which would help them to meet the 42 per cent CO2 emissions reduction target across Scotland by 2020.

4. Acer wants to shape education

Acer showed off its first 15-inch Chromebook for education, an 11-inch model and two ultra short-throw projectors.

The vendor launched the Acer Education Solution Centre program in 15 countries across EMEA last year, helping resellers sell more into schools. It also worked on a Future Classroom Lab which opened in November 2014 at Ricoh’s office in Hannover, featuring the latest hardware such as interactive whiteboards, projectors, notebooks and tablets with software solutions like the Acer Classroom Manager. 

5. Dick and Dom and VR

After watching children’s TV presenters Dick and Dom have a play on Samsung’s Gear VR headsets, I barged my way to the front of the queue eager to give them a try.

Before I knew it, I was flying through New York City, seeing all the sites in impressive detail. Turns out virtual reality really does have the ability to make you feel pretty queasy, as I had to have a sit down after my experience to stop my head from spinning.

6. Is 3D printing "dumb"?

I was mesmerised by the slow moving repetitive motion of the Maker Bot.

It turns out that even though this tech is pretty revolutionary, one of the chaps lingering around the stand said that 3D printers were in fact pretty ‘dumb’: tirelessly and slowly (like a donkey) printing layer after layer of plastic until it is told to stop doing so. It’s certainly not as futuristic as I had first imagined.

7. Lenovo gets Thinking

Lenovo announced the latest ThinkPad 11e series which is available as a traditional laptop or in Lenovo’s hybrid tablet YOGA form. It has four modes – Laptop, Stand, Tent and Tablet – and is also available with an optional ActivePen which mimics a user’s actual handwriting on paper.

The ThinkPad 11e series of devices will be available in EMEA starting from April. Pricing for the ThinkPad 11e and ThinkPad YOGA 11e models starts at €349 and €539 respectively (excluding VAT).

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