Digital playdate for the symposion Network of European Schools of education

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On 7th June we shared our technology projects and held a Digital Playdate for 24 delegates from Europe attending the annual conference of the symposion Network of European Schools of education  Participants were challenged to create a visual digital artefact representing creativity.
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We all shared and posted on this Padlet:


‘Thank you for a great – and well-organised – conference in Northampton this week. The Digital Playdate padlet is on my Facebook Group page now and I hope we have a chance to work together in the future:
David Richardson, Linnaeus University, Kalmar, Sweden


‘I just wanted to say a big thank you and your staff for your great hospitality over the last few days! I thought the dinner on Tuesday evening was one of the best I’ve had at a conference and I’ve been to a few! I also enjoyed all the sessions, particularly the one with Helen on the use of iPads. My interest is in technology and language teaching and so I will definitely be looking to stay in touch with Northampton.’
Christopher Allen PhD, Senior Lecturer, ELT and Applied Linguistics, Linnaeus University, Sweden





Digital Playdate and Teachmeet with Into Film

The Unify News story:

University digital PLAYDATE brings together teachers from across the UK

The University of Northampton, in partnership with IntoFilm, hosted a digital PLAYDATE on Wednesday 8 June. The Digital PLAYDATE – People Learning and Asking ‘Y’– consisted of practical sessions using technology enhanced learning methods – getting hands on with robots, programmable tools, animation, filmmaking and educational apps, all designed to boost teachers’ knowledge. This was followed by a series of short presentations by teachers sharing ideas from their recent practice.

Helen Caldwell, Senior Lecturer in Education said: “Digital PLAYDATES are a great form of Continuous Professional Development (CPD) for teachers, getting hands on with the technology available for teaching and developing your skill set in this way – learning through play- can be much less daunting than traditional CPD sessions. Learning in this way also directly supports the focus on computing in real world scenarios within the new Primary computing curriculum.”

“The teachers here today have used digital resources, games and technology to explore learning across STEAM subjects supported by our volunteer digital leaders. There has been a real emphasis on developing digital creativity skills such as the use of apps for art education, green screens for storytelling and stop-go animation for all subjects.”

Su Gabriel, from Lode Heath School, Solihull said: “The digital PLAYDATE has been a great event; the practical session was valuable, we were all sharing ideas and tips for integrating technology in the curriculum. For me, developing my knowledge in a practical way, through experimentation with the technology here – green screens, robots, digital art app and the multisensory spaces – has been very valuable. I have lots of ideas to take back to my school.”

One of the ‘Changemaker+ Challenges’ is to make Northamptonshire the best county in the UK for children and young people to flourish and learn – something the Digital PLAYDATE has contributed towards.

University digital PLAYDATE brings together teachers from across the UK



The Padlet:


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Social Network Analysis:


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Link to the wiki:

Storify of the evening’s tweets:

Digital Art and Drawing using Rollworld and PicCollage


We Welcomed some international guests from Weingarten in Germany who are trainee teachers. We introduced them to Art and design using a Prezi and by using the Apps Roll world and Pic collage created some digital art.


weingarten 1weingarten 2

Digital Playdate for children 3.5.16


Film of the visit produced by digital leader Gemma Wade

Children and digital leaders talking about the visit

Digital PLAYDATE at University for John Hellins Primary School

Year two pupils from John Hellins Primary School in Potterspury spent the day (Tuesday 3 May) at the University of Northampton on a Digital PLAYDATE.

Digital Playdates – People Learning and Asking ‘Y’ Digital Age Teacher Exploration – are practical sessions using technology enhanced learning methods – getting hands on with robots, programmable tools and educational apps.

Helen Caldwell, Senior Lecture in Education said: “The primary computing curriculum places a strong emphasis on digital making, computing in real world scenarios and computational thinking, and through events like this digital PLAYDATE pupils can explore these subjects in a fun and engaging way. Technology in the classroom is continuously evolving and can be used to teach subjects far wider than just computing.

“The pupils today have used spent the day using digital games and technology to explore learning in both indoor and outdoor learning environments, supported by our volunteer digital leaders.”

The University of Northampton’s Digital Leaders scheme sees University students take leadership roles within local schools and at the University, providing advice and practical sessions inspiring the use of technology for education.

Hayley Pyrah, teacher at John Hellins Primary School said: “Thank you for organising the best trip we have ever been on. It was utterly fantastic. The activities were brilliant and suited the children’s abilities, but gave them the opportunity to explore new and exciting technologies. The children took away so much from it and the digital leaders were very supportive. They talked to the children at their level but explained everything in lots of detail.”

Link to coverage of the event in Unify:

Teachers Playdate with IntoFilm 8/6/16

Digital Playdate

Join us for a Digital Playdate with IntoFilm

A chance to tinker with new tools and technologies  

Where: Newton Grand Hall, Avenue Campus, University of Northampton

When: Wednesday 8th June, 5.30pm-8.00pm

A Digital Playdate is a chance to find out about some technologies you are curious to try through hands on play alongside others. It is based on the acronym ‘People Learning and Asking Y’.

Rather than leaving the event with a long list of promising things to look up, you’ll go away with some fresh skills that you are confident to try out with your learners.

We’ll have a choice of workshops and demos for you to join in with, including greenscreening, making photospheres, iPads full of apps, virtual reality headsets, robots, filmmaking and animation, lightboxes and dark dens.

There’ll be some digital leaders at hand to support your playful exploration.

We’d love some of you to share what you’ve learned at the end, and we’ll aim to capture everyone’s ideas before and after the event so that you have something lasting to take away.

‘A playful society is filled with problem-solving, resiliency, communication, and exploration of acceptable boundaries and risk. Play promotes all these faculties, and more.’

More about playdates here:

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Exploring lights with Rowan Gate Primary

A group of BA Special Educational Needs went to Rowan Gate primary School in Northamptonshire for the afternoon to explore using Multi-Sensory equipment for children with SEN. The children used a range of applications to make and create images in relation to digital art. The children were able to share their experiences through technology using apps like Adobe Voice.

The children really enjoyed the activity and it was amazing to see how they all used the technology. The children were able to use the iPad’s extremely well and needed very little guidance in navigating around the technology and applications. The afternoon helped the children develop their skills in both ICT and Art and the afternoon brought these two subjects together in an enjoyable and fun way for the children.

We also had a class discussion at the end of the session and shared the images that the children created. The children were all really proud of what they created and it was really nice to see them share there experience with their peers.

Overall, using technology like the iPads to create images can be really effective within the classroom. Using the Multi-Sensory equipment allowed the children to create images that they found interesting and enriched the experience for the children.

Jack Gilbert

MaKey MaKey Playdate

Three blind mice, played on jelly, carrots and play-doh 

Primary School Children from six local schools spent the afternoon using conductible materials, such as carrots, jelly and play-doh to explore and develop their coding skills at the University of Northampton.

Using tablets and MaKey MaKey innovation kits, a set of connectable cables that acts as a keyboard interface, and everyday objects primary school children created basic code to play games, create sounds and give directions to computer games.

Forty children from Northampton Academy Primary Trust schools; Simon de Senlis Primary School, Lings Primary School, Abington Vale Primary School, Ecton Brook Primary School, and Weston Favell Primary School, together with children from Standens Barn Primary School, used their coding and creative skills to design and build their very own computer games; everything from a tinfoil dance mat, to a programmable talking gummy bear! (

This is event formed part of the University of Northampton’s Digital Leaders scheme, which sees University students take leadership roles within local schools and at the University, providing advice and practical sessions inspiring the use of technology for education.

Here are the children reflecting on the afternoon:

Matt Oakley, a Teaching Assistant from Abington Vale Primary School and current student at the University of Northampton said: “”Events like today’s MaKey MaKey session aim to promote digital literacy in schools. Collaborating with the Northampton Academy Primary Trust schools and the University of Northampton, we have a fantastic opportunity to really inspire young people to develop digital skills.”

Primary School pupil, Lexy from Ecton Brook Primary School said: ”Today has been really fun. My favourite part has been meeting new people, combining our ideas and working to make our project work. If it doesn’t work, trying to fix it.”

Helen Caldwell, Senior Lecturer in Education at the University of Northampton said: “”Coding promotes problem solving, teamwork and analytical thinking – and those who code from an early age will have a real advantage in the future jobs market. Sessions like the one today, teaching physical computing in the real world, connects our students with local schools to inspire creative use of technology for education.

The new computing curriculum aims to promote computational and creative thinking in young people, and through our courses at the University of Northampton we have many practical opportunities for our students to work with school children. A challenge based learning approach means that our students develop creative and practical teaching ideas to inspire children early in their studies, alongside the academic underpinning of the course.”


Here’s a link to the Unify news story:,-played-on-jelly,-carrots-and-play-doh-at-the-University-of-Northampton-.aspx 

Here’s the Storify of tweets from the afternoon: