#BETT2018 – Three billboards, Two #teachmeets, One fellowship and #NoStormtroopers

#BETT2018 – Three billboards, Two #teachmeets, One fellowship and No Stormtroopers

The annual BETT Ed Tech conference is about much much more than Tech or even education. It’s like an annual pilgrimage (too noisy to qualify as a retreat) with friends – the distances walked in the ExCel Centre and in the city qualify it for Camino status.


Three Billboards – this time last week I finished the 2018 BETT weekend with Richard Millwood and Adrienne Webb at the Westfield Cineplex watching Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri. I went in so totally biased (love McDormand, love McDonagh) that I was fearful it wouldn’t measure up. Verdict – no problem, was absorbed, loved it, have to go again very soon.


Two TeachMeets – thanks to the backroom machinations of Drew Buddie, there was a new addition to the BETT calendar this year – an International TeachMeet on the Thursday night, sponsored by TES. It was attended by teachers from all over Europe – even Ireland, we made a sizeable dent in the floor and on the podium – and was meticulously curated and MC’d by eTwinning rock stars Bart Verswijvel and Arjana Blazic. It made for a lovely TeachMeet-style start to the BETT weekend, and judging by the atmosphere and reaction, it will become a fixture of future BETT conferences.

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The traditional Friday night TeachMeet, running since BETT2008, was curated by Drew aided by Alan O’Donohue, and MC’d by a Dawn Hallybone / Ian Usher double act with a relaxing light touch. The move to the smaller venue with the ExCel was an inspired one – the ARENA was proving too vast for comfort in recent years – and engendered a real Friday night TeachMeet atmosphere. The evening started with a tribute to our late friend Tim Rylands, warmly and lovingly delivered by Dughall McCormick on behalf of us all; and made so very special by the ever gracious presence of Tim’s beloved Sarah Neild. The whole evening went swimmingly – the old random name picker is still working, Russel – and we were treated to a lot of thought provoking ideas to take away and try out or ponder – Joanna’s provocative presentation about parity of esteem, or not, in education and life in general, Matt’s inspiring photography club, Jodies’s moving use of Kandinsky art therapy with her young students have all exercised my thoughts this week, and will continue to do so. All that is good about TeachMeet was here this weekend. [And of course there was the TeachEat chats afterwards – a chance to catch up with each other and put the international world to rights].


One Fellowship – This is what the late Bianca Ní Ghrógáin named her ragtag band of ed tech friends at the 2013 Scratch conference in Barcelona, and it has sort of stuck since, covering any of the Irish CESI / ICTEDU / MakerMeet / TeachMeet / Scratch / EdchatIE tribe who meet up at an event, even those who qualify under the Granny, Emigrant, or Imported rules. Travelling and eating together gives us time to chat and mash up ideas, catch up with each other’s plans and dreams. These are people who see the unconference part of the trip as being equal to the conference part, and will travel together to other places of pilgrimage – this year it was the Babbage and the maths gallery at the Science Museum, the fashion rooms and tea rooms at the V&A, and the Winter Light show at Canary wharf. Thank you Adrienne, Pamela O’Brien, Hassan Dabbagh, John Hegarty, Richard, Tony Riley, Jake Byrne, Lorraine Underwood, Joanna Norton, and Neilus Young for your delightful company. ‘Til next time…


No Stormtroopers – this became the motto of this year’s BETT for me. It was a fun Pi-Top challenge, born of Graham Brown Martin’s recent Papert-inspired theorising, which reminded me of a Rebel Alliance conversation with him and Dawn Hallybone last BETT, and a constructionism blog post he wrote between last BETT and this. It was good to see a lot of creative coding around this year, mostly centred in the maker driven ‘constructionism’ corner, full of Pi and Micro:bit DIY ideas and people, including the beautiful 1000 micro:bit ‘swan’ display, behind which I had a geeky peek:

And so I wandered round BETT for an afternoon with the No Stormtroopers sticker in my hand, and everywhere I wanted to stick it would have possibly certainly got me arrested; in the end I went for some forced perspective (and some forced participation, thanks Hass and John, and pleased to meet you, Jesse) and came up with this masterpiece:

And yes, I won an Oscar – a PiTop – for this masterpiece of dodgy forced perspective, probably awarded for cheekily bossing the boss about – and look forward to using it.


And so, the Oyster card and the spare sterling change is away in the drawer for the next pilgrimage retreat camino trip to BETT 2019.


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