The BETT Show 2014

Last week Inspired Selection hit the Excel Centre where the much awaited BETT show was in full flow; we went to really build on our current knowledge of the education sector but also see what new and innovative ideas publishers, content providers, platform developers and other software companies are coming up with and bringing into schools to inspire our future generation.

Esme at BETT

It is such a fantastic time to be in Educational publishing and a common theme of the BETT show was how publishers are adapting and creating new products to align with the changes in curriculum; for example, within primary there was a huge focus on the new IT curriculum where children will be learning how to code from an early age. A challenge for schools is to find and support IT teachers and there have been some fantastic resources developed to do this including the launch of the computing MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) based on OCR curriculum and created by OCR, Cambridge University Press and the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

Homework is another aspect of education that has been revolutionised through using software which allows teachers to set and assess assignments online. This also means schools can create a data footprint for each student and use this in their future assessment.

We saw a lot of interactive resources from SMART boards to tablets meant to engage their users and capture their attention whilst learning at the same time. Games have been absolutely revolutionary for learning allowing students to work their way through a task in order to reach an attainable goal, some great examples of this could be learning to read or practicing maths.

The Education sector is a hugely exciting place to be at the moment; publishers are constantly coming up with new great ideas for content; platform providers are coming up with new ways to interact with that content; software companies are coming up with great ideas to display content and teachers are using all these different mediums to inspire our students.

Amy at BETT

In the afternoon, we made our way to the Learn Live Theatre 2 to hear Alistair Smith, Director of Learning at Frog, and Billy Downie, Headteacher at The Streetly Academy, give an engaging talk on “Big Data: school perspectives on what, how and why?” Alistair spoke about how big data allows society to harness information in novel ways to produce useful insights and is a way of doing this on a large scale.


From a school’s point of view, several interesting and informative questions can be asked – At what point in a lesson do learners switch off? Who will be bullied and when? How do friendship networks impact on exam performance? Big data is essential in determining best practice and for monitoring changes and issues. We need it in today’s world; as Alistair put it, “This is the world we are in, this is the world our children are inheriting” – we need to make it a good one and the use of big data in schools is the best way forward.

We would like to congratulate all the amazing winners at this year’s BETT Awards for their contribution to the education industry.

Here at Inspired Selection, we are passionate about the publishing industry; we talk about publishing, read about publishing and attend all major publishing events like the one you’ve just read about.  We would love to meet you at events so do feel free to come up and introduce yourselves! If you’re interested in opportunities within publishing do keep in touch and register for our Vacancy Update Service as well as keeping up to date with us on Twitter


BookMachine Oxford – “Running a Digital Department”


We gathered last night, together with a large contingent of Oxford publishers, at the House Bar in central Oxford to network over a few drinks and to hear from Tim Oliver, Head of Macmillan Education’s Digital Publishing Unit.

Tim spoke enthusiastically about his interest in technology and his career in digital publishing over the last decade, and provided some interesting insights into changes in structuring digital departments during his time in the industry.

Tim runs a specialist digital publishing unit within Macmillan’s ELT business, which was set up to maximise efficiencies and cost saving with regard to producing digital products. The team started out with a similar structure to a print department, but has since evolved to focus heavily on project management, and the unit has developed set procedures which inform their everyday working practise. This is constantly updated as technology changes, and to accommodate new product formats, new workflows etc.

As with many other publishing companies, he has seen ‘digital’ initially separated from the rest of the company’s print publishing operation, but it is now clear that all departments must embrace the changes sweeping the industry. In effect, all departments must become digital departments. In the past, many skills were outsourced to specialist suppliers, but Tim highlighted a more recent trend towards ‘backsourcing’ – bringing certain job functions and skills back in-house – e.g. software development and website production.

Bringing skills in house may then lead on to additional training needs and anyone managing a digital department will need to bear these in mind. Fortunately there are many training opportunities online now, and staff can develop skills without time out of the office. Mentoring also plays a key role, especially in developing strong project management and Agile methodology understanding in digital teams.

One thing is clear – running a digital department is a challenging, busy and creative role. Tim described a typical day which could include anything from signing off new digital platform development, interviewing staff, discussing new product developments with senior management, reviewing project management procedure with the team, catching up with developers, problem solving technical glitches, etc!

Tim concluded with a reminder that we need to balance ‘evolution with revolution’. We need to be exploring new channels and business models, but need to balance this with revenue generation. While technological advancement offers huge potential for product development, most profit is still generated from print products.

Thanks to Book Machine for another great event!Logo_(cmyk)

Bett 2013

It is an exciting time to be a student or someone otherwise involved with education right now. During our time at Bett 2013 we saw many new exciting innovations being developed for educational purposes. The main theme of the event and amongst the Educational Publishers present was how to best adapt current technology to the best benefit of students and teachers alike.

Walking around the different areas of the show we saw everything from traditional learning materials to the latest digital apps being displayed on both iPad and PC. Perhaps one of the most interesting product demonstrations we sat in on was for a supplemental program for students to complete work online – the achievement here being that this specific program now allowed for tailored and detailed feedback on each student’s assignment as well as giving them the opportunity to directly correspond with their teacher about particular assignments, even when not in the classroom. Teachers were also given the ability to specifically adapt assignments individually to each of their students, ensuring that each is given the personal help they need.

Many products, especially for younger children, were centred on creating a highly interactive learning environment. This was especially apparent with the way touch screen interfaces were utilised in order to capture and hold their attention. Everything from SMART boards to tablets was being employed in new capacities, to help students with everything from learning to read or practicing maths.

It is clear that the main aim of these products, and in fact of the publishers, is to use new technologies to make content as engaging as well as constructive as possible in order to enhance their education. Perhaps the greatest accomplishment of the different technologies on display was their ability not to overtake traditional learning methods, but to supplement current curriculum and texts as well as offer customized support in order to fit the individual student and teacher needs.

It is a very exciting time to be involved with Educational Publishing. Let Inspired Selection help you begin your career with the leading publishers of the 21st century.