Us teachers are a cynical lot. But we are a friendly lot too.
I met a fair few teachers over the last few days at the Bett Show, representing LearnPad and talking to them about my experiences. We are always wary of sales people, wary of people just pointing out what they want you to hear, so being able to talk to potential customers as an impartial teacher was really refreshing.
My role was to share my experiences in school, talk about a few lesson ideas and, what I was particularly surprised about, to share the negatives with customers. To be fair to the good people at LearnPad, I didn’t really have any negatives to share, but of course customers always came with a list of concerns. Understandable, as they were possibly about to invest sizeable chunks of their budgets in the products, and I really enjoyed the fact that I could help to alleviate their concerns by telling them about the support I have received, both from the Technical Support team and from trainers such as Hannah. I could share a range of lesson ideas, from simple ones using inbuilt tools like Annotate for those who were a little tech wary, to more complex ideas combining apps like Animate and Movie Maker. Some just listened to the ideas and asked questions, but others came back with new ideas that I have pinched for the classroom! Whatever their view though, the teachers were all grateful to have the opportunity to talk to other teachers and hear what we had to say. In fact, many of those I spoke to were in exactly the same situation that our school was in not so long ago: a handful of iPads, lots of old and deteriorating laptops and an ever increasing need to make a decision about what route to go down when spending their budgets. To me, it seemed that technical advice from the experts, practical advice from experienced teachers and packs of free Wonka bar pencils was a winning combination, and so people left the stand smiling!
I consider myself to be a very confident LearnPad user, but I too learned a huge amount while I was away. Before the stand opened and during quieter times, I had the opportunity to explore new products too – I am going back into school tomorrow with a huge wishlist! I was really excited to be able to tell people about the new ClassBoard app (available from the app store and Google Play), which is available to any school, and is a secure forum for schools to share pictures and work with their parents via their tablets and smart phones. The first thing I did yesterday evening (during my “evening off!”) was to register my school and add a few demo posts, so I can take it to show the other staff. It’s a great way to be able to keep parents informed and engage them in everyday life – something which we are always keen to do! Showing photos and work straight from the LearnPads via the ClassCloud is also a great incentive for those more reluctant users to get them out and use them – they have a whole new audience to share their work with.
I also spent a HUGE amount of time playing on the new Murus board – a whiteboard unlike any I’ve seen before. There was a massive amount of interest in the board – not least from me – as it looks incredible and the idea of using SNAPS on it (simple apps) made it really easy to use. I couldn’t talk to teachers about how I’d used it, as it’s a brand new product, but as the two days went on, I had more and more lesson ideas to show people. Some of us on the stand made it our mission to try and put different lessons onto the board each time we demonstrated it, so between us, we built up quite a bank of ideas! The LearnPad team regularly asked us what else we wanted on the board – as we played with it, we came up with an idea or two which the team took away. I loved the fact that our opinions were valued so much – ultimately, we are the users and the consumers, so what us teachers have to say about a product really matters. Again, some of the teachers we spoke to came back to us with lesson ideas of their own… more to add to the bank in my head!
Having time to share ideas with others is really valuable, and is something we just don’t do enough of. When I agreed to go to the Bett Show, I had no idea what I was signing up for. It was a terrifying prospect. But it was a valuable experience in so many ways – meeting lovely people (both customers and people on the team), sharing great ideas, discovering fantastic new products and, last but not least, a huge boost to my confidence. Yes, the two days were exhausting, but two days that I am so glad I was a part of.