BETT Asia 2019

For those that couldn’t make it to the conference I thought I would share my thoughts.

It was good to get the chance to meet new people and generate some new ideas. However, having been to a number these types of show before I was a little disappointed. BETT Asia is like BETT UK’s little cousin, it was a very small vendor hall and although the content was good in the leadership summit presentations the rooms were seriously oversubscribed leading to a lack of seating and comfort or not getting into a presentation at all.

I didn’t speak at this conference as it was my first one in this part of the world, I was just there as a delegate to scope it out and learn some stuff. I have to admit that perhaps this also contributed to my disappointment as its much harder to network when you don’t have line of people waiting to talk to you when you leave a room after a presentation.

I think that is my top tip for people, if you are new to an area dive in and present something at your first conference – the difference it will make to your networking experience is huge and will make contacting colleagues in the field so much easier.

It wasn’t all bad though, there were still a few nuggets of good stuff to take away.

Here are my highlights:

Creating a culture of innovation

You can call me biased on this one as the presenter is a friend and colleague but if you could see the amount of nodding, note/picture taking etc. going on during her presentation you would agree that this was a real highlight. Staci Kalmbacher has created the “Dulwich College Pioneering Spirit Grant” to provide our teachers and students with support and guidance to innovate! I have worked in schools for 20 years and I can honestly say that this is the best initiative I have seen, it has been a fabulous success and I was very proud to watch Staci deliver this presentation and instruct and inspire other schools to setup their own similar projects. Check this link out for more info:

Women in leadership – building a culture of change

Hosted by my new friend Kirsten Van Niekrek this was a panel discussion that I found very interesting, I myself have never seen gender as an issue as the only time I consider gender is when we need both male and female teachers on a trip for bedroom/bathroom jobs. As a concept that gender is an issue for leadership positions I find it very troubling and difficult to relate to, but this was explained well by Dr Matt Harris, I can’t relate because I am a privileged white male and it wont ever happen to me – its a simple as that! Listening to the passion of the people on the panel and in the room I feel like instead of not recognising it, as I don’t think anyone’s gender should or would be a barrier or an advantage, that I should actively do more to try to  combat it.

Setting up for success with blended learning

This was a brilliant presentation by Stacy Lambert and followed her journey of transformation over the last 3 years to implement a fully embedded LMS system into Callaghan College, Australia. I know first hand how tricky this task is in any school and her methodology was spot on, with heavy emphasises on dedicated time for professional learning and development. After researching they opted to use Canvas, I haven’t used it myself but am keen to take a closer look as she highlighted how it integrates with SharePoint.

Bring 21st century pedagogy to life 

An excellent discussion with a very knowledgeable panel. I especially enjoyed listening to what Iain Sallis has to say. He spoke on the subject of encouraging staff to innovate and highlighted that performance based evaluation is the enemy of innovation as it discourages risk taking and fosters a fear of failure. He said that one of the questions he likes to ask at interview is what the candidate has tried and failed at.

Class of 2030 – how do we get there

This was Microsoft’s slot and the room was jammed full. There was a clear message that Teams is the product MS are pinning their class of 2030 model on. As a huge fan of Teams and OneNote it was good to hear this and see how MS are looking to invest in excellent features like the immersive reader to make it truly fit for purpose.

CALMS Technologies

Pickings were slim for me in the vendor hall, with the majority of vendors being LMS type solutions, offering resources and content. As MIS Manager I am more of a people, process and data type of guy so didn’t have much to look at. I did however have a demo at the CALMS stand and will be following up with a closer look. They were demonstrating their ID management solutions including door access, locker security, attendance, and parent pickup. They had some neat features like group facial recognition and RFID wristbands for the young ones. They even claim to be able to recognise faces wearing sunglasses.

Will I be back next year?

I’m not sure, it was a little disappointing but I am very keen to network with colleagues in my region. I think I am going to be speaking at the Ed Tech Conference in Singapore in November (TBC) so once I have attended that conference I will pick my favorite for an annual attendance. Aside from the professional evaluation its also worth mentioning that Kuala Lumpur is a brilliant destination, its a large hub for transport, is so easy for westerners to get around with English language etc. and the people are so friendly. Its a great location for a conference for sure!

A Little Story

I will finish by sharing with you an entertaining moment for me. When I was in a popular presentation, it was packed, people standing all over the place trying not to block others views due to the lack of seating. I was standing on the right hand side of the room hugging the wall, the presentation started and someone near me was talking, It wasn’t loud enough to make out what was being said but it was a constant noise!

Those of you that don’t know me need to know that I am a pretty laid back person, so laid back I have in the past been described as horizontal. But rudely talking in inappropriate situations is always going to push my buttons. I really hate it, being British I rarely speak out if there is something I don’t like happening, preferring to avoid conflict but if you sit next to me in the cinema and start talking during the film I may go all Avengers Hulk vs Loki on you!

I though to myself, they will shut up in a sec, it must be important otherwise why would they be so rude, but they didn’t. After a couple of minutes it was really pissing me off I couldn’t concentrate on the presentation for the talking in front of me. I couldn’t understand why no-one next to them was asking for quiet, there must be a reason, maybe someone was translating the presentation into another language and was just too loud by accident, maybe there was someone with a kind of disability present and they couldn’t help it. I was torn between needing to act as the anger built inside me and knowing logically there must be a reason and not wanting to cause a fuss.

After a couple of minutes I decided that I need to act, for the good of the room, for the good of humanity! but actually I want sure who it was, everyone had their back to me. I could see a guy sat at a table with his laptop screen, I couldn’t see his face but his head was moving a lot and he was zipping windows around the screen frantically – it must be him, the ignorant bloke is doing tech support during someone else’s presentation, i’m a fan of multi tasking but this is not right!

I was glaring at the back of his head for ages (well probably about 30 seconds really but it felt like longer) trying to figure out if I should move my way through a few people to ask him to shush, and how to do it and attract the least attention. Suddenly he whipped his head round looking at the back of the room, I thought yes I can give him the proper disproving look (you know the one, cats always do to show their disdain for your existence), but wait, I can see his month closed and still hear the chatter – its someone else!

I really tried to focus on where the sound was coming to figure out who the evil culprit was that nearly made me give “the look” to the poor innocent guy with the laptop and then suddenly the chatter stopped for a few seconds and was replaced by applause. Not applause in this presentation, that was still going on (and I had heard none of it) it was from next door through the false walls put up in the main hall to create partitions for different topics, that presentation had just ended.

You know that feeling when you realise you have been a complete and total dumb idiot, well at that point I realised that the loudspeaker from next doors presentation was positioned just in front of me on the other side of the wall that I was propped up against and the noise that had been winding me up wasn’t some inconsiderate jerk, but the presentation next door. I thought for a second what would have happened if I had confronted the person I thought was the problem, how stupid I would have looked, which made me laugh . . . . . out loud . . . . . to which someone in front of me turned around and gave me “the look”

I believe that’s what they call Karma!