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BETTer late than never.

The week before last I went up to BETT2011, the huge educational technology jamboree at Olympia, and I thought I’d BETTer write something about it. I was blown away by it last year and looked forward immensely to the event.

My abiding memory of the main arena of hardware and software side of things was that there seemed to be just loads and loads of state-of-the-art touch-sensitive Interactive Whiteboards with vendors peddling a huge amount of content covering all curriculum angles, similar to last year. Perhaps with the NC review we just need encyclopaedias now though, oh and blackboards?

It was great to bump into @innovativeteach, @asober @chickensaltash, @janwebb21, @ianaddison amongst others, and see @timrylands speak with @xannov and @kvnmcl.

I attended 2 seminars on dyslexia, as that’s my field now, and was really interested in @HileryWilliams’s idea that using enabling technology should give pupils a holistic base to learn in rather than a skills-based approach. To elaborate what I mean is that for many dyslexics or literacy delayed learners, there is a raft of technology that can support their learning without further disabling them. Text-to-speech software, speech-to-text software, writing tools like Clicker5, the 2Simple stuff, spell-checkers, digital recorders etc. All of these, and many more, can remove the barriers to learning faced by many pupils. I felt good that I employ many of the approaches she spoke about and the affirmation that I’m doing the right thing was heartening. It made me think that perhaps the scaffolding of these learners, with aids to help reading and writing so that they succeed with print rather than continually failing, could have a knock on effect. The technology helps them read and write without having to ‘learn it all’ first, and then maybe they’ll soak up the literacy skills later by a sort of technology-enabled osmosis. Hmm?

More than anything though it was meeting and seeing tweechers like @bevevans22, @digitalmaverick, @Joga5, @eyebeams, @Natty08, @oliverquinlan, @TomBarrett @IanInSheffield, @BrainPOP_UK, @lisibo and lots more that was the most important thing for me, (apologies for those I missed).

The evening #tmbett2011 was an outstanding event full of fantastic speakers like the legendary @dughall, @ZoeRoss19 and some of those mentioned above and has inspired me to present at #tmcardiff. Practicing teachers teaching practicing teachers is in my opinion (along with my Twitter PLN), the best cpd on the planet.

I picked up a demo of a fabulous tool called WordQ and SpeakQ, costs a few quid but as a writing tool for some of my pupils I feel it will be immense. Essentially its a predictive word processor that will also input words via speech, very neat. I’m looking forward to seeing how it will improve, or even start some pupils off writing, without the fear of knowing that no matter how hard they try, the work will still be unreadable scribble or gobbledygook, and it won’t take them a month of Sundays to write either. I’ll write more when I’ve had a chance to use it with some pupils.

All in all, for me, it was the enthusiastic and inspirational people I met, not the technology I saw, that inspired me most.

 

 

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3 Responses

  1. Hi There
    Thanks for the compliment. BETT will be posting my presentation at some point soon: feel free to borrow.
    I’m not sure about ‘soaking up literacy by osmosis’ if you mean actual decoding and encoding print. That requires over-learning, rehearsal and repetition and a lot of effort, if to be achieved at all by learners with dyslexia.
    But enabling learners to access text in the broader sense of the word is absolutely possible.
    Anyway, glad you enjoyed my presentation. It is great to have contact with fellow practitiioners isn’t it?
    Here’s my blog address in case you’re interested:
    hileryjane.wordpress.com
    Cheers

  2. Absloutely!

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