Every year, I look through the list of exhibitors at the IPPN Conference Expo and pick out a few that catch my eye. As always, there’s the usual stalwarts of Expos past but there are a few new faces to check out as well.
Technology services have been picking up over the last couple of years after a bit of a lull once everyone bought Interative Whiteboards. Achieve On Line Learning (Stand A5) are exhibiting Interactive Numeracy & Literacy Programmes for Primary Schools and they seem to be showcasing the fact that they’ve translated a load of their maths questions into Irish. It might be something worth looking into for Gaelscoileanna. Also offering Maths Resources are Matific, (B2), which looks similar enough. Will either of these challenge Mathletics or Khan Academy though? Moving on to Music, which seems to be in a difficult place. Many music lessons are consisting of watching YouTube clips and learning the songs, which leaves the rest of the curriculum under-utilised. Given that teachers are expected to be all things to everyone and experts in every area, it’s no surprise that specialized subjects like the Arts and PE need a boost. Dabbledoo (N1) is an complete online curriculum for music and they will be trying to convince schools to part with €520 per year. It’s going to be a tough sell.
Apps and Parent Communication Tools seem to be going hand in hand and there are a number of companies offering to charge you astronomical prices to give your school an app. Tying this into a “text-a-parent” service makes it worth considering, but only just. I’d suggest any company thinking of this seemingly easy gravy train to have a good think about what they are going to offer schools. An app is one thing but what else can you do apart from push notifications to inspire a school to part with a significant part of their budget? Appier School (A12), iClassCMS (A10), Komeer (L10) and Unique Publishing (K9) are 4 examples exhibiting.
Both Aladdin (F1) and Databiz (H5) will go head to head for the Student Management System of choice again this year. There doesn’t seem to be any competitors at this Expo so fair play to both companies for keeping their products fresh and relevant to schools. We haven’t seen IMEX (H12) for a while but they look like they have some interesting robotics and engineering tools around.
One stand (or two stands, as they’ll be taking up 2 of them) that I’m really looking forward to seeing is Edanu (H3 & H4). I have done a little bit of work with them over the coming months and I’ve heard that their stands are going to be full of amazing gadgets. Expect principals walking around with Virtual Reality headsets. They also sell a huge number of interesting devices such as storage for tablets. Another company taking up 2 stands is Wriggle Junior (G1 & H1) They look like they’ve been getting advice from Richard Bruton – look out for ways to sell you coding.
Fitness is another area that is very much in the ether and Aldi (L11) have jumped on board with a rugby programme. It will be interesting to see their stand, more so because of their huge budget than for the rugby itself! Laya Healthcare (K5) is offering the Super Troopers programme and should also be worth a look.
The Irish Family History Centre (N9) might be offering you an ancestry test to see where you come from. Genealogy is an interesting idea for schools to think about to support the history curriculum so it’s well worth a visit.
All in all, some interesting fare on offer!