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Mark Davis

EdTech In the Age of Artificial Intelligence: A Round-Up of Bett 2024

From hardware to software, AI reigns supreme at this year’s show

Jan 25, 2024 7:00:00 PM


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A crisp January morning saw the start of the Bett Education Technology show at London’s major exhibition space, the ExCel Centre. Fitting, too, that the opening day of the event happened to coincide with the International Day of Education. Coincidence? Perhaps. But, the message of Bett was straightforward: Digital technologies combined with correct, robust use in education can deliver remarkable results. This also seemed to resonate with the chief theme of the event: artificial intelligence (AI). Exhibitors were keen to emphasize how their products incorporated the benefits of AI into their solutions, whilst speakers exercised caution to the delegation, reminding them that AI can only be successful if used and regulated correctly. Even those exhibiting traditionally non-technological products, such as school lockers, chairs, and tables, wanted to show how digital automation set them apart from their competitors.


Print and Imaging Offerings

Among the many hardware and software OEMs exhibiting at Bett were a few well-known names in the print and imaging space. Canon, HP, Epson, and Adobe were all represented, showcasing their products, services, and software solutions aimed at the education market. Other hardware vendors, like DELL and Lenovo, were also there. The OEMs displayed how their products are interconnected in terms of managing a fleet of devices via the cloud, using analytics to pre-empt mechanical failures on devices, or incorporating A3 or A4 paper into production machines to streamline device deployment.


A serious trend that appears to be growing in popularity since the end of the pandemic is that of video conferencing software. Crucial for businesses that facilitate hybrid working, conferencing devices are transferable to the classroom in both secondary and higher education settings. Educators are able to continue with lessons if in-person learning is disrupted, administrative staff can meet in a central place if they are working from different campus buildings, and recordings can be made of lessons so students have a revision tool when preparing for an assessment. Many of the OEMs at Bett demonstrated how their video conferencing could enhance the learning experience as well as integrating with existing infrastructure from providers such as Microsoft and Google.



AI and Digital Learning

The symbiotic relationship between AI and STEM-based learning is critical. One of the presentations that focused on this link was given by Lenovo and European Schoolnet in which the speakers, Dr. Agueda Gras and Chris Babson, highlighted the relevance of STEM in all aspects of education and how EdTech providers need to do more to make STEM more accessible in the classroom through the use of AI and their products. Another presentation given by HP and UNESCO concnetrated on the worldwide teacher crisis, namely the shortages, attrition rates, and lack of education among teachers globally. Both parties argued that AI can help solve these problems, but only if studies of AI’s effectiveness are completed at the same time as the evolution of the technology. Software and hardware in education can produce remarkable results, provided they are used effectively for pedagogical purposes. Connecting the 2.5 billion people who do not have an internet connection is also a huge hurdle—both parties hope AI will help them overcome in the fight to ensure all have access to a good standard of education.



Keypoint Intelligence Opinion

This was Keypoint Intelligence’s first year attending Bett and it did not disappoint! The scope of the hardware and software solutions on offer in the EMEA and US markets is remarkable and will no doubt make learning more relevant, targeted, and fun for students. AI and automation generally will help to reduce the tedium of workloads—manual administration, for instance—and will enable teachers and education professionals to redirect their time. Of course, these new tools will have to be monitored and educators will no doubt have concerns about the risks. However, the main takeaway from the show is that AI, automation, and digital learning are going to grow closer and will make a huge impact on the education space.


Whether this is an entirely positive impact remains to be seen.


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