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January 25th, 2015

Reflections on BETT 2015

Written by Paul Maidment

Another year, another BETT. In any industry or market sector there is surely little that focusses the mind of the serious individual more than key customers, partners, prospects & competitors all under one roof. The fact that the roof here in question covers the vast expanse that is the Excel Centre, that the show covers one of the fastest growing markets for video content use and that the Christmas decorations have barely been put back in the loft adds to the whole piece.

I first visited, and then exhibited, at BETT 7 years ago where I tried to persuade educational book publishers that video content was essential to teaching and learning – children in particular were ‘demanding’ that their home experience of ‘multimedia’ be replicated in the classroom. Many publishers shrugged their shoulders; many were solely interested in selling more text books; many didn’t have budgets for video; many didn’t have the knowledge to appreciate the potential value.

So – 7 years on and what’s new? Well the show was more technology focussed than ever before. The tech companies were all over it. They got it 7 years ago and they get it even more so now. But they all recognise that there has to be buy-in at government and publisher level – even the likes of Apple and Microsoft will not achieve both commercial and ‘social’ success / credibility on their own. The publishers are jostling for position – Hodder have bought Rising Stars; Discovery have bought Espresso; Pearson are buying just about anyone. ‘Partnerships are key’ they all say. Territories of interest are the same as ever and are name-checked bingo-calling style – Korea, Brazil, Turkey, Saudi Arabia.

The use of video content – when contextualised and when wholly relevant – is now part of every serious Learning offering. The next challenge is to prove categorically that this material engages and uplifts learner outcomes – i.e. are grades fundamentally improved as a result? Adaptive Learning – using technology to adjust the learning experience for the user based on how they are doing and where they want to get to – is that next step and thus the next challenge. Many publishers have built learning platforms using algorithms that satisfy this need but few are making money from it and even fewer have really cracked it. The place of video content here might be essential. Roll on BETT 2016.

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