We started our day by taking in a session helmed by two good friends, as Nathan Ashman and Carmel Bones (pictured above) took to the stage for ‘Demystifying virtual reality: Exploring VR's potential to transform teaching and learning’. Here, they showed how VR can immerse pupils to no end, for example by viewing a ‘crime scene’ to examine details in-depth, or entering an alien world for the purposes of creativity. Nathan demonstrated how such technology, given VR’s exciting nature, can be used to retain pupils’ attention. "The average human's attention span is eight seconds,” he said. “Some of you will have drifted off already!"
Then, using the example of school trips, Carmel illustrated how learners can also view the same experiences over and over - ideal for when key elements are missed the first time around. Teachers can record voiceovers for virtual tours of historical locations, lending both depth and entertainment to the learning!
Shortly thereafter, the Learn Live: Secondary was taken over by faces well-known through the likes of Twitter and TeachMeets. Chaired by #Teacher5aDay creator Martyn Reah, ‘Can happiness be taught?’ looked at how teachers can cover both pupils’ and their own wellbeing. "We spend a lot of time thinking about young people's wellbeing, but do we spend enough time on our own?" the deputy head asked. In a conference engulfed in edtech, the session provided a rather reflective moment to remember to look after the people using it. If anyone in attendance wasn’t aware of #Teacher5aDay, they were now.
We also got to meet many of the innovators exhibiting in the BETT Futures area. For example, the Touchable Universe team were illustrating how they’re allowing pupils to feel surfaces (here, the human tooth and gum) through a joystick device. Meanwhile, the Studytracks team were illustrating how music and beats can aid recollection and retention of the core syllabus. Even Sir Bob Geldof (who knows a thing or two about music) visited their stand, donning headphones to listen to songs that were created specifically for revision.
We could have seen more of the day’s events (such as Mark Boylan’s ‘Cross Curricular Computing’, Alison Wilcox’s ‘Online learning in SEND for teachers’, Simon Johnson’s ‘Minecraft Education Edition’ or Ministry of Science Live), but we were frankly overwhelmed by the sheer number of teachers stopping by to find out about what we do.