Paul Scott and myself took the train to the big smoke to see what was new at BETT this year. For those who don’t know BETT is one of the largest education technology shows in the world. Companies showcase their new products and in these cash strapped times it’s good to feed back to schools as to what is free or cheap or useful. In and amongst the gimmicky and expensive there were some useful things I want to share. Here are my highlights:
Neverware have been producing software to turn old laptops into Chromebooks for a few years. This is a great way to extend the life of older kit. You can also buy laptops that are a few years old for just over £100 and put Neverware’s operating system on them. They produce management software so the devices can be managed like Chromebooks, this works out at £10 a year per device which is cheaper than the cheapest Chromebook.
This is something I’ve been looking for for years. Bandlab is a cloud based music creation platform similar to Garageband. It’s completely free and allows teachers to set up users for children and set assignments. It can be used to edit music loops that come as part of the software meaning it’s easy to create your own music tracks and download them. You can also record your voice and import copyright free music from other sources meaning you can create your own spoken word recordings such as adverts and news broadcasts. I’ve been looking for a web based music editing program like this for years. Did I mention it’s free?
It was good to catch up with Dan from Book Creator. You can get started with Book Creator on Chrome for free. Children can log in with a QR code so no need for user names and passwords. They’ve just launched the ability to publish an entire library online which is great. If you are a subscriber school we have guides for getting started and using Book Creator for Chrome. Look in the video gallery in the resources section on our site.
Code for life is a free set of activities that works on any device with an internet connection. Teachers can create users for children and track progress. In some ways it’s similar to Code.org. It has resources for the whole primary school which include coding challenges and unplugged activities? I like to dip in to these resources to support particular concepts I’m teaching rather than start at the beginning and work through everything.
I love the Micro:Bit as a first venture into physical computing for schools. I’ve added lesson plans to our scheme of work using them and there are loads more on makecode.microbit.org/ Kitronik had some great Micro:bit add ons for schools ready to go further with Micro:bits. For just over £20 the Mini Move is a cute little programmable buggy that takes the Micro:bit to the next step. It was really popular, especially when it was used for a robot football game.