eMoney News

Feature: Visit the BETT show to see the best new technology for schools
6 Jan 2012

Those in the education industry may be interested to hear that the BETT Show is once again returning to London's Olympia venue to showcase the best in new technology for schools.

Taking place between January 11th and 14th 2012, BETT attracts some 30,000 visitors each year, all of whom want to find out more about how ICT products can improve the teaching and learning environment for school staff, pupils and their parents.

Not only are there exhibitors able to give demonstrations of their products and the benefits, but there are also plenty of educators in attendance who can attest to how they have changed their workplace for the better.

Of course, most people instantly think about innovations such as multimedia white boards and tablet computers when technology in schools is mentioned, but there are many more applications around these days that can streamline operations and make life easier for everyone, from office employees to parents.

This is a fact that will be highlighted by a series of seminars taking place at BETT - topics include school library design, identifying priority ICT purchases and creating the right balance for technology in schools.

Some of these seminars require attendees to buy tickets but others are free to sit in on, while the Olympia event as a whole is free to enter, quite a bonus considering the amount of information available during the four days.

One big topic that is sure to be widely covered at BETT is education providers going cashless. While primary and secondary institutions and also universitieswere once burdened with numerous administrative procedures when it came to taking money for things like lunches and excursions, technology is now allowing them to be paid electronically.

For example, for primary school trips, teachers used to have to send out letters detailing how much it would cost, then wait for a cheque or cash to come in from each parent via their child. The money then had to be gathered up and sent to the school office, where it would be recorded on cash receipts.

School officials would then have to bank the money and pay the trip provider. Of course, this is assuming all goes well and there are no errors like bounced cheques, letters lost on the way home or envelopes without names!

The procedure also potentially puts the school office at risk, as it requires large amounts of money to be kept there, something that could prove to be a target for thieves.

On the contrary, going cashless allows most of these steps to be cut out. Teachers are able to text or email announcements about events such as trips directly to parents, who pick the reminders up without having to wait for their children to even get home.

They can then use pre-registered accounts to transfer money to the school, meaning their transaction is logged immediately and the cash ready to be sent to the relevant parties.

However, excursions are not the only useful application for eMoney and a cashless system. A popular one among education providers all over the world iscashless catering.

This is an initiative by which the idea of paying for items with change once pupils reach a central checkout is done away with.

Instead, each pupil is given a top-up card, which is pre-loaded with money at home by their parents. The child then takes the card with them to the dining room and presents it for scanning by a catering representative when they have chosen their meal.

It relies on there being enough money on the card to pay for the food, but embarrassment can be prevented by frequently sending text or email reminders to parents once the amount gets low.

This cashless system can also be advantageous for youngsters who qualify for free school meals, as they will no longer have to broadcast the fact to their peers once they get to the till.

From a parent's point of view, cashless catering is a good way to keep a subtle check on what their offspring are eating, as each choice will be logged by their contactless smart card.

So, if they are discovered to be choosing chips every day, a quick chat about the benefits of healthy eating may be worthwhile to help them avoid obesity.

Meanwhile, not only does the school manage to cut its queues by avoiding pupils scrabbling around for change, but it can also cut its budget by analysing which meals were popular and which were not.

And that's not all - there are still plenty more ways in which cashless systems can be rolled out. Another key area is the library. While most have already done away with paper lending records in favour of cards that are scanned, contactless technology can speed things up even further.

Biometrics can be applied so youngsters only require their fingerprints to borrow books, while reminders can be sent straight to parents if items go overdue, something which could avoid fines and even mass end-of-year book amnesties that take place up and down the country come July.

There are many more methods, but attendees of the BETT show will be able to hear all about them and perhaps even try them out in person next week.

January could be an ideal time to find out more, as it is often a time for budget-makers to set out their spending projections for education providers. BETT visitors who are enthralled by what they see may be able to make their case to have cashless systems applied to their own workplace upon their return.

Among those exhibiting will be sQuid, which has established a well-developed and highly respected payment solution for schools, colleges and universities that is already in place up and down Britain - Bolton is one example of a location that has gone cashless with great results.

Whether it's for school dinners or photocopying, sQuid's system is flexible, easy to use and - perhaps most of all in this tough economic climate - affordable.

Why not head along to Olympia from January 11th to 14th and see what we've talked about here in action - we look forward to seeing you there.

Bookmark and Share
sQuid alternative payment network is protected