BETT, The IT in education show, has seen the education sector's tech providers announce some innovative products this year. As the event draws to a close, Computing brings you the show's biggest announcements.
Dell showcased a range of new products including the Dell Latitude 2110 netbook. As more schools are moving to digital textbooks, the Latitude 2110 is designed with this in mind. It allows for screen rotation, meaning students can turn the netbook on its side and hold it like a book.
The company also launched The Dell Mobile Computing Station, which stores up to 24 netbooks and allows teachers or students to transport shared Latitude 2110s or 2100s from classroom to classroom, it also includes wireless access points. And the S300wi interactive, short-throw projector was another impressive launch. It uses a durable interactive pen for use with a multi-purpose, short throw projector, allowing teachers to make virtually any smooth surface an interactive learning space.
Microsoft showcased its Office 365 for education, the company's next-generation cloud service for schools and universities, and the successor to Live@edu. The software will launch later this year.
"Office 365 for education is the same product as the 365 for enterprise, but we'll be pricing it differently. The cloud infrastructure made available to schools will be the same as that used by commercial businesses, as a result, we'll be offering SLAs as well," Microsoft UK director of education Steve Beswick told Computing.
He also revealed that pricing and packaging for its schools software would be changed worldwide, with students equipped with Microsoft Exchange, Lync and SharePoint free of charge, in the same way that its Live@edu service is currently free to students.
One trend shaping the education sector is that of managed service providers taking over the IT infrastructure within a school and managing it as a utility.
A company that is traditionally strong in the education space, Capita, has added managed services and ISP services to its existing Openhive learning platform.
The company is offering cloud services to schools designed to reduce the amount of on-site server infrastructure by centralising the delivery of software and services off-site.
"We came up with the idea of joining these modules together so that we have a complete end-to-end service which is now available to each individual school," Steve Smith, director of learning for IT services told Computing. "It's now much more modular and much more flexible."
Thin client specialist Wyse showcased its thin and zero client technology to enable schools and colleges to migrate from PCs. The offering included new generations of Wyse hardware delivering an end-user experience equivalent to a high spec PC, supporting multimedia applications and specialist education peripherals such as interactive whiteboards.
"Fundamentally, schools do know thin client is the best way to deliver ICT to the classroom," said David Angwin, director of marketing for Wyse.
"The problem is where to start? Schools need a good understanding of their users and requirements, what applications do they need, what kind of content – voice, data or visual – and what kind of peripherals to use."
Hardware management and monitoring software provider CentraStage launched a new version of its cloud offering; an integrated application store that allows users to download and deploy pre-packaged software to their managed IT estate, regardless of network or location. The software also allows schools to track and update a range of devices remotely, and CTO Ian van Reenan told Computing that the firm will be releasing a version for Apple OS devices, such as MacBooks, but is still working on software for iOS devices, such as the iPad and iPhone.
Other technologies on show at the event included 3D technology and educational games, visit our From the Newsdesk blog for more information.
And answer our poll question: Should schools be using 3D technology and computer games to teach our kids?