This week will be my 5th BETT since joining Microsoft and each year I have noticed that:

  1. The buzz around learning technology gets bigger and bigger
  2. The enthusiasm of the teachers demonstrates what is meant by vocation
  3. Representation from the Higher Education sector is always lower than I thought it would be

It’s point 3 that really puzzles me.  BETT does attract some from HE but it’s generally, and this is my counting only, from the schools of education within the university and rarely learning technologists from the HE sector.  I know that this will be slightly different in 2009 for instance and I look forward to welcoming all HE visitors to the Microsoft stand.

With only two days until BETT, and currently it’s all-hands-on-deck back at TVP to get everything ready for the opening day of the show. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that 80% of the people that come through the doors visit the Microsoft stand – which makes us the busiest stand at the show. And so everything’s got to be right by 10am!

So, if you are going to be visiting Olympia, here’s a summary view of the things you can pop along to Microsoft and see:

  • Microsoft Surfacethe first time in a public event in the UK, and pretty exciting (I’ve been playing with one on-and-off for the last fortnight, and it still makes me smile at how clever it is).
  • The Wall of Cool – a dozen netbooks – small, low cost laptops – for you to look at and compare. Although there are loads of suppliers at BETT, all showing off their latest mini laptops, you can’t visit a stand elsewhere where they are all lined up together. We’re putting them all into our Wall of Cool, so that you can compare them side by side, and you’ll be able to see how their speed, graphics, weight and design vary between manufacturers and price brackets. (I looked at them all on Thursday, and there’s some big differences between them, and some obvious winners in the dozen!). I’m not going to give the game away, so come and take a look yourself. And if you have preferences, drop me an email to let me know how you’d arrange them into your personal Wall of Cool.
  • Plenty of schools talking in the theatre. We’ve got a cracking line-up of schools and local authorities, all telling their own stories of how they’re using ICT to enhance learning. Schools include Broadclyst, Shireland, Twynham, New Line Learning, Warwickshire local authority and Bowring.
  • The Digital Literacy Curriculum – we’ve got an announcement on that on the schedule for Wednesday, so I’ll have to wait until then before I can tell you more than you can see here.
  • And finally, we’ll also be making some announcements about our support for the Government’s Home Access Programme. Some details are already here, but more will be out this week.
  • Live@edu – Microsoft will demonstrate how live@edu is used in a learning and teaching environment, all the tools will be used here including virtual earth, Mesh and Office Live Workspace

hopefully that’s enough to whet your appetite. And if you’re coming along, both Ray and I will be there so please look us out and say hello.