BETT 2010, London

Last Saturday,  I visited BETT 2010, the world’s largest learning technology show, at London’s Olympia. Mindful of James Clay’s thoughts about the event, and visiting for the first time in four years, I went along to the show with a mixture of excitement and trepidation!

From the outset, it was clear the the was (understandibily) still a large focus on the primary and secondary sector, and to find those technologies that might be applicable directly to my work at the University of Bath might be a little tricky to find.

What were the highlights (for me)?

  • My conversations with Mitt Nathwani and Paul Jenner from Reivo Ltd., the UK distributors of TurningPoint handware, were incredibly useful. I met with Paul a couple of weeks before Christmas to discuss the TurningPoint-based Audience Response System (ARS) pilot that I lead at the University of Bath. Through the conversations, I learned more about the TurningPoint 2008 software as well as about ResponseWare Web, including attitudes towards ARS in the US from Shelia Hura from TurningTechnologies Inc.More importantly perhaps, I got to borrow a sample of the TurningPoint ResponseCard RF handset holder/casing that is currently being installed in a number of lecture theatres at UWE. At this institution, these casings are being screwed onto lecture theatre benches, meaning that handsets no longer need to be given out to students, and collected back, in at the end of each lecture. (This in turn leaves more time for teaching!) Instead, the handsets are in place permanently. I wonder if the General Teaching Area working party at Bath might consider trailing this approach in the new East building lecture theatre?
  • A number of the larger hardware and software companies had a presence at the show, namely, Adobe, Microsoft, Dell and HP. With both Adobe and Microsoft, the focus was on promoting key new features of their new software suites: Office 2010 and Adobe CS4. The University of Bath are still running Office 2003, so we might still be some way off upgrading! That said, it was interesting to hear that Office 2010 encompasses some of the features of Google Docs, namely storing workfiles in the cloud. Google Apps-Moodle integration has already been talked about on the VLE@JISCMAIL.AC.UK mailing list – how far off might an integration with Office suites with Moodle be?In terms of Dell and HP (and a number of other vendors), the proliferation of netbooks into the market is increasing. HP even had a touch screen model, which is coming to the UK market in March 2010!

There was little during BETT that suggested to me that the e-Learning team needed to re-evaluate current work practices or projects. We’ve already either committed to solutions or are undergoing an evaluation period: a VLE (Moodle), an Audience Response System (TurningPoint), an SMS solution (edutxt)… and now, a lecture capture solution (Panopto). That said, it was useful going along to see what might be coming up in the way of learning technologies, of course, seeing what else is out there.

Talking of which – was there anything that you saw at BETT2010 that I didn’t. My new colleague, Vic Jenkins, has already blogged a few of her thoughts

Supporting e-Learning applications and tools

During a meeting yesterday, it struck me how many internal and external e-Learning related or Web 2.0 applications I seem to get asked about. As a result of this, I thought it might be good idea to get down a list of tools that I could refer to in future meetings. I’m pretty sure that all of the following have free signups.

e-Learning Tools at the University of Bath

  • Moodle – Our institutional Virtual Learning Environment. We’re currently running version 1.9+.
  • Confluence – A tool that allows for the fast, easy creation of wiki pages which can be used for collaborative activities.
  • Learning Material Filestore (LMF) – An online file storage and sharing facility available to all students and staff at the University of Bath. Whilst strictly speaking this is the responsibility of the Web Services team, we often point colleagues towards this, and might offer some help and advice.

Web 2.0

  • Social networking websites, mostly Facebook and LinkedIn in relation to how it might be used to support learning and teaching related activities.
  • Social bookmarking websites. I usually point colleagues towards my personal favourite, though Diigo seems to be increasing in popularity.
  • Blogging tools such as WordPress. In addition, newer “micro-blogging” websites such as Twitter.
  • A place to find images to use in lecturers or presentations. Flickr and Google Images are two examples, though I often stress the copyright implications of using such resources.
  • Applications for subscribing to RSS feeds are usually of interest. I use Google Reader, though I’m aware of a variety of others. I point colleagues to the BBC website for a good definition of what RSS feeds are and how to get started.
  • For subscribing to podcasts, which could well be hosted in the LMF, I’d recommend iTunes. An alternative is Juice.
  • For podcast creation, as well as other general audio-editing, Audacity comes recommended.
  • For videos, YouTube seems like the obvious choice. The less popular Google Video is alternative for hosting content.
  • There’s also Google Docs, which is a free, Web-based word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation application offered by Google. It allows users to create and edit documents online while collaborating in real-time with other users.
  • In addition, we offer recommend SlideShare, which in the spirit of YouTube [see above], allows users to upload their PowerPoint presentations for viewing and sharing. Presentations can be tagged and permissions set so that downloading of presentations can be allowed/disallowed.


  • The University of Bath has a site licence to Bristol Online Surveys, which is a service that allows staff to develop, deploy and analyse surveys via the web. For a non-University hosted solution (which students can also use to create surveys), SurveyMonkey is often a good alternative.
  • We have implemented phpMyFAQ to power the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) database for our Moodle installation.

Phew! I think that’s all. If there’s anything else I’ve missed, please do let me know.

19 June 2008 – The e-Learning team have recently acquired in 25 audience response systems from TurningPoint. The specific model that we own is ResponseCard RF. Please do get in touch if you’d like to find out more.


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