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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 January 2006, 16:23 GMT
Teachers assess benefits of ICT
Child with computer
Parents interested in their children's use of technology are also welcome
A talking pen which gives the correct pronunciation of any French word and a programme which downloads classic works of literature to a mobile phone are some of the new ideas featured at the annual educational technology show Bett.

It expects 27,000 visitors, including parents as well as teachers, over four days, and aims to demonstrate the latest ideas for employing information and communication technology in learning.

Bett has attracted hundreds of suppliers who believe their product will relieve time-pressured teachers of some of their workload, or inject an extra dose of creativity into classroom teaching.


Among them are Mantra Lingua, manufacturers of Talking Pen Francais. Move the pen over a word, sentence or picture and the student hears the words spoken by a native speaker.

Mantra's managing director, Robene Dutta, says the pen can bridge the gap between traditional classroom language learning and the practice pupils may need to improve understanding and pronunciation.

"For many people, learning a language can be foreboding and frustrating. Talking Pen is engaging, flexible and fun and pupils can use it where convenient and in groups."

Systems to inform parents automatically of their child's absence are being adopted by more and more schools.

Another innovation which has caught the eye of schools is online test results. Cambridge Assessment and Harcourt Publishing are launching an online assessment programme they believe will help pupils to make progress by providing instant feedback and lesson plans.

Teacher education

But personalisation of learning appears to be the buzz word of the show this year.

Bett's organisers believe the increased use of ICT can personalise learning, tailoring the level and activity to meet each student's requirements.

It is an aim which chimes with Education Secretary Ruth Kelly's mission to focus teachers on the needs of every child.

Child playing drums at Creative Bett
Large and small companies have a presence at the show

Briony Mansell-Lewis, Bett's head of events, says ICT is being used increasingly across all subject areas, and many teachers are getting involved because they recognise it can allow children more control over what they do and increase creativity in the classroom.

"We have many visitors who are advanced in the use of ICT, but increasingly the show acts as an educational process to others who might not be so comfortable," she said.

Teachers can get out of the show whatever they need, she says, and many schools treat it as a staff away day, sharing knowledge when they return to school as well as spending their e-learning credits.


This year the event continues to feature its large Special Needs Zone, with a timetable of seminars by expert speakers and practitioners.

While still a niche area, the use of ICT can be of great use to special needs co-ordinators in schools, Ms Hansell-Lewis says.

Among the topics covered in the zone include new innovations in assistive technology, how ICT can aid inclusion, and programmes to help pupils with dyslexia.

The BBC has a significant presence at the event, and is previewing BBC Jam, a new series of online learning modules for five to 16-year-olds in 20 subjects rolled out from this month.

It is also involved in a zone called Creative Bett, where visitors have the chance to try out music and animation with content from Apple and the BBC's online learning programmes.

Briony Mansell-Lewis says teachers are well aware of the potential of ICT to lighten the load.

"I think they are also attracted to anything which facilitates their job, and the use of ICT will make their lessons more efficient, free them from some of the paperwork and give pupils a better learning experience," she said.

"But teachers need to find out for themselves exactly what's available and how it can make a difference to them."

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