I think I am getting old, as this year's BETT show was a test of physical endurance to say the least. I think I am a few centimetres shorter, as my spine has compressed from standing all day, my knees ache, my ears are buzzing from all the background noise and I have a repetitive strain injury due to handing out flyers. And I'm not the only one who thinks BETT is becoming an extreme sport -- did anybody visit the stand offering therapeutic massage?

Mind you, despite all this physical exertion, the exhibitors this year have eased the burden for visitors, by dramatically reducing the number of ‘freebies’. This was clearly evident at the end of the day, as visitors were leaving in the clothes they arrived in and were not festooned with various t-shirts and weighed down with bundles of bags, pens and stress busters. Did of any of you get anything of note this year?

Nevertheless, the lack of the classic giveaway, the Microsoft t-shirt, didn’t deter visitors to our stand, and all of our presentations were really well attended. I gave two presentations a day, entitled ‘Raising ICT Confidence in Teachers and Learners’. My co-presenters were Dave Garland (who was suffering with deadly ‘man flu’) and later in the week Dan Roberts (who was trying to survive on his new vegan diet). Both from Saltash.net Community School, highlighted how the Innovative Teachers Network  has made a major contribution to the school achieving its goals, including being one of top performing schools in its area. I've posted their presentation to the ITN community if you want to see it for yourselves.

I was also able to talk about the Microsoft Digital Literacy curriculum. This is a completely free course, consisting of five interactive modules that can give your students the  necessary skills in ICT that employers demand. The course covers the following five areas:-

imageComputer Basics

The Internet and the World Wide Web

Productivity Programs

Computer Security and Privacy

Digital Lifestyles

Monkseaton High School have already successfully implemented this course into their school and have said “The availability of the Microsoft Digital Literacy Curriculum will, we feel, strengthen the knowledge base of all members of the community, initially within school and ultimately beyond”.

The Digital Literacy Curriculum is available in 29 different languages, including welsh, making it very accessible to a wider community. It can also contribute 14 points to your school’s examination scores, through being accredited by OCR. Find out more at www.microsoft.com/uk/dlc.

Innovative Teachers - Whilst Kristen, (being my boss) was able roam around the BETT show, meeting and greeting, having coffee and sitting down (!) I was firmly rooted to the Microsoft stand. This has its advantages, as the people I wanted to catch up with were able to find me. I met up with teachers whom I had only been in contact with through the Innovative Teachers Network. We chatted about how they should put together their Virtual Classroom Tour (VCT) for the UK Innovative Teachers Forum. (REMINDER: the closing date for entries is the 1st Feb! Details of how to enter can be found here.)

I had a great conversation with Ollie Bray from Scotland about his idea for a VCT. The best advice I could give him was to keep the description of the project simple. There is no need to include loads of resources; instead, choose those that define your project and best illustrate its impact on learning.

Welsh Invasion – I was really pleased a large number of teachers from Wales at BETT this year. When I did leave the stand, I found sanctuary in a little piece of Wales that was the NGfL Cymu stand. It was great to see these guys showing the excellent work they are doing here in Wales.

That’s it for another year. I now have a 12 months to start some endurance training for next year's event. I really enjoyed myself at the show this year, and despite all the aches and pains, I learnt a lot. Even though we weren't giving away 'physical' free goodies, visitors to the Microsoft stand were able to take away free advice and links to many free resources. A job well done I thought.

So how was it for you?