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BETT showdown

This year’s annual pilgrimage to the BETT show in London involved two presentations at the Adobe stand, an education reception at the Serpentine Gallery, networking with fellow educators, attending a seminar in the Innovation theatre and the customary game of dodgems through the crowds to try & find out what’s new.

My Adobe presentation this year was on 3D imaging and photography. 3D is a major trend in digital media at the moment and I’ve been experimenting with 3D photography with some of my classes. The process & science behind it is pretty simple and my presentation looked at the history & science of 3D as well as demonstrating how to use Photoshop to create 3D photos. I also demo’d some experimental 3D video clips that I made recently with Flip cameras & Premiere Pro.

Photo by Mr Ush (Flickr)

If you’re interested in trying 3D photography, then log in to Adobe Education Exchange & search for my tutorials on stereoscopic imaging.

I also attended a session entitled Skateboards, Graffiti and Storytelling presented by Steve Bunce and Alasdair Douglas. They demonstrated some of the activities they’ve been using in school to engage youngsters, including skateboard lessons, creating graffiti artwork and creating stories and artwork based on video games. They also demonstrated a tool called Friispray which allows you to create graffiti style art using a projector and a TV remote as a digital spray can. The session was very informative and engaging, and I came away with lots of new ideas for using digital media with my own classes.

Photo by Mr Ush (Flickr)

So, what was new at BETT this year? First thing I noticed was that many more smaller vendors had stands on the ground floor. Perhaps this is a sign of the recession – perhaps some of the larger vendors weren’t attending this year and floorspace wasn’t at such a premium. Many people commented that the Oracle stand was vacant as the company hadn’t turned up.

3D televisions and projectors were fairly common this year and were being touted as the new Interactive White Board. I doubt that, but it’s what the salespeople were saying. Tablet computers weren’t quite as evident as I had expected, though there were a lot of iPads on display with artistic tools and e-learning materials running on them. I personally don’t have a purpose for owning a tablet – my phone has a lot of the same functionality in more portable form, and if I want to do serious work then I need the power of a decent computer. Schools were definitely the target for tablet computers, and I can see why their portability and function can be attractive, but I’d be terribly fearful of students dropping them.

Finally, the recession was most evident by the lack of ‘freebies’ on offer this year. Usually it’s possible to leave BETT with an armful of mugs, pens, cuddly toys, mousemats, stress balls and other shwag*, but vendors were holding on to it until they’d prised contact details from potential customers and given them the full sales spiel.

*shwag is a contraction of the words ‘shit’ and ‘swag’, which I think describes marketing paraphernalia perfectly.

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