Two years of pandemic disruption have raised many challenges for education in the UK, with school closures, the rapid introduction of remote learning solutions, not to mention the challenges of staff absences and the impact on wellbeing all around.
The BETT Show at London’s EdExeL in March 2022, was an opportunity for the edtech industry to showcase the tools that have been developed during this period to support educators.
This year’s theme was ‘Creating the Future’ and, as keynote speaker, Nadhim Zahawi, Secretary of State for Education looked to measures to maintain this momentum.
There were more than 400 stands at BETT this year – all with offering solutions and support for educators. There were, too, hundreds of talks over the 3 days as well – so there were plenty of new ideas and discussions for primary and secondary schools as well as Academy Trusts and Further and Higher Education establishments.
At the Elastik stand, we spoke to teachers and headteachers, IT teams and Multi-Academy Trust leaders from across the UK. But we know that many were unable to attend – due to the pressures on schools that we just mentioned as well as the work you’re all doing to close the covid learning gap plus the ongoing teacher absences due to Covid.
At Elastik, we firmly believe that technology can support human connection, helping to build a deep understanding and trust between teachers and their students. So it was heartening to see how many of the solutions being discussed were focused on the human side of tech.
Here then, we thought we would share 3 highlights for those of you that couldn’t join us at BETT.
Empathy Week Ltd is a global schools programme that uses the power of film to develop empathy and leadership skills. It has been designed by qualified UK teachers to flexibly fit into the timetable and curriculum and is already being used by more than 100,000 students. You can watch their trailer here: https://youtu.be/mcow1dii3mo
Former Schools Minister, Lord Jim Knight, chaired a session on ‘The Future of AI in Schools.’ Projections suggest that the use of artificial intelligence for education will grow significantly in the next 5-10 years. AI in education can raise concerns about technology replacing teachers. In practice however, education leverages AI and machine learning to tackle those tasks that would otherwise be time-consuming or too complex. Something that Elastik is very on board with. Rather brilliantly, there was an emotional companion robot at the show this year – a very benign and useful one. Developed by Blue Frog Robotics, Buddy is an emotional AI robot who has been built to work with children in education. He is being used in isolation rooms in hospitals as a teaching assistant and learning companion, teaching coding and programming and allowing isolated kids to stay in touch with their school environment.
And – a totally different kind of tech – Mable Therapy won the 2022 BETT Award for SEND resources, products and services with their therapeutic platform that can be used remotely, giving students access to specialist help wherever they are in the world. Founded 7 years ago, Mable are the UK’s leading provider of children’s online counselling and speech and language therapy – and they were able to provide consistent, experienced therapy to the pupils who needed it most, at exactly the right time.
And as the demand for online services increases, they make an interesting observation: “The paradigm has shifted. Schools are refusing to return to traditional services, and Mable Therapy is busier than ever.”
EdTech seems to be on the brink of a new era . One where technological ideas and solutions are welcomed in our schools and education centres, where remote learning is growing in popularity and AI – when used in the right way – is becoming more commonplace.
Our own intuitive Realtime Writing tool is a great example of how Elastik uses technology to support teachers, not replace them. Pupils can use the Elastik platform to complete their writing – and then the curriculum-linked rubric automatically marks the work and creates a report that shows the areas of strengths and weaknesses. Realtime Writing is more than an automated marking tool – it target the gaps for teachers. Plus they always remain in control and are able to adjust the marks. You can find out more about Realtime Writing here: https://elastik.com/for-teachers-by-teachers/
Elastik is proud to be part of the paradigm shift that is making education more open, accessible and flexible.
We’re already looking forward to BETT 2023 and wondering what the future holds.