Futuresource Consulting – BETT 2018 Key Trends Preview



As London’s educational technology (Ed Tech) show, BETT 2018, opens its doors for another year, the Ed Tech team at Futuresource Consulting wanted to highlight some key areas and trends in this space. This will act as a scene-setting backdrop, as to where opportunities for hardware, software, platform and technology firms might lie within this sector.

Voice Personnel Assistants – From CES 2018 to BETT 2018

Over the past three years, more than 70 million VPA-enabled (virtual personal assistant) smart consumer devices – excluding mobile phones and PCs – have been shipped worldwide. Therefore, it came as no surprise that one of the main themes of CES 2018 a few weeks ago was voice personal assistants. Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa dominated the tech on display, finding their way into new and exciting applications.

Whilst it is very early days in the discussion around voice and education applications, it will be interesting to see if this overarching technology trend extends into demonstrations on the show floor at BETT 2018.  Virtual assistant technology is already being incorporated into companion robots from specialists targeting the consumer early learning and primary school segments. These ‘smart toys’ typically combine the power of a search engine with basic curriculum and exercises to support primary students.

According to Futuresource Consulting, worldwide shipments of humanoid robots to the educational sector are forecast to reach 54,000 units in 2021. Within its market report, Immersive Technology in Education, it states that, “In time, these robots will transform into intelligent tutors that consider a user’s interests, likes and mental state; enabling them to interact in a more proactive and human-like manner, thus providing a more holistic learning path and support system.”

VR in Education – Opportunities for Publishers to Differentiate

As VR continues to build momentum across different platforms and within schools, it provides a wealth of opportunities for partnership throughout the ecosystem. ‘Freemium’ content can sit embedded on devices or the more favoured open educational resources (OED) platforms, together with paid-for full curriculum content. 

Google continues to develop its range of ‘Expeditions’, and different types of educational subject matter are expected to be bundled as ‘freemium’ content experiences or tools to drive Chromebook demand during 2018.

Microsoft is working with PC OEM partners like Acer, Asus, HP, Lenovo and Samsung to launch low cost mixed reality (MR) headsets. Microsoft has also recently announced key partnerships involving products such as its Windows 10 based product, the HoloLense application, partnering with organisations such as Lego Education, the BBC, PBS, NASA and Pearson, who are planning to release six ‘mixed reality’ applications to cover subjects such as health, history, chemistry and maths.

VR and MR will undoubtedly be widespread and popular on the show floor, but Futuresource will be looking for evidence of increased dedicated content, curriculum-based offerings and industry partnerships. This will provide evidence that the technology can develop past the ‘hype’ phase and cement itself as a genuine long-term product offering that positively impacts learning at scale. 

The Smart Campus

The educational sector has seen an explosion in technology usage within the classroom and in personal devices over the last 5 years. However, advances in smart buildings and the smart grid are still in the infancy stage within most educational institutions, according to the Smart Campus Report by Futuresource Consulting.

Advances in technologies for the 'Internet of Things' (IoT), as well as cloud computing are making smarter systems more accessible to the educational sector, providing new and exciting opportunities not only for system providers, but also for IoT and cloud solution companies.   

At BETT 2018, Richmond College of Further Education will be showcasing its ambitious vision to redesign its college to become a smart and collaborative campus.

Bett speaks on the OS and Mobile PC battle  

Microsoft, Google and Apple are locked in a battle for students’ hearts and minds. Microsoft and Google traditionally make a tranche of announcements at BETT and updates to their education software and hardware offerings are expected. 

“The Microsoft position in the market is complex and varies from country to country.  Microsoft remains the dominant OS and productivity tool provider in many markets, but Chromebook sales have grown to fill a market-leading position in North America and have a growing share in other developed markets in Western Europe and Australasia,”

Microsoft is working hard to reverse this trend by working closely with OEM partners to offer low cost devices, providing a compelling management and collaboration solution through ‘InTune for Education’ and ‘Teams’, and expanding integration and co-operation with a range of ecosystem partners.

At BETT this week, Microsoft is revealing further Windows 10 and Windows 10S devices, targeting the entry level part of the market to compete with Chrome Books.


Open Education Resources (OER) Platforms

Open Educational Resources (OER) platforms offer another area of innovation and opportunity. They provide the perfect Trojan Horse scenario for the blue-chip tech Titans to widen their footprints for content resale into the learning environment. Thus, posing a competitive challenge to the traditional publishers. This is demonstrated by the investments and partnerships being made throughout the year.

Recently, Microsoft partnered with Open Up resources to offer OER content in Office 365, ramping up resources by $100,000. Amazon announced the OER discovery and recommendation platform ‘Inspire’ in June 2016, allocating $20,000 in additional resources and integration with ‘Whispercast’ is expected after launch. IBM has launched their adaptive learning platform, the IBM Watson Element for K-12 education, in partnership with Apple.

As Ed Tech buyers to start to think more deeply about how these devices are being used and the learning platforms and tools that are backing them up, they will begin seeking a more advanced solution to help with everything from administration, though to learning analytics. This will drive the trend towards personalised learning and the BETT show floor will no doubt have examples of innovation in this area.

Data Analytics and Integration

Hand in hand with the development in personalised learning is the integration and availability of data analytics. The fragmentation of the supply side, combined with the relative lack of data integration standards (in the UK at least) is making it difficult to develop genuine learning analytics. Expect to see further discussions around data management, integration and suppliers advertising readiness for the new GDPR standards on the show floor.

So as BETT 2018 delivers its promise of cutting edge Ed Tech innovation with the latest gadgets, products, platforms and content, the Futuresource Ed Tech team will be exploring the show and again capturing and sharing the announcements and highlights at the show in its 2018 Show Report.

For more details about Futuresource Education Technology Reports, please visit our reports portal here