A blog for students on the FDLT and BALT courses at the University of Northampton

at Leicester and UN

November 25, 2021
by Jean

Exploring the computing curriculum on FDLT Y1

This week on the FDLT Y1 course we were fortunate to have some expert and specialist visitors in our PDT1076 session. This was organised for us by Beverly Clarke, the National Community Manager at Computing At School (CAS) and facilitated by Wendy Piccinini. 

CAS input (Hello World magazine)The first part of the session was a virtual meeting to introduce us to the resources and support that CAS offer to schools.

This includes the Teach Computing resources to support the computing PoS in primary and secondary schools and the Hello World magazine

I recommend you go to this link and download The Big Book of Pedagogy from Hello World, a special edition that focuses on approaches to teaching computing, and also subscribe to the free magazine.

Exploring computing concepts and vocabularyThis was followed by an introduction to Barefoot Computing from Dr Jon Chippendall with a focus on introducing the concepts and language of computing to pupils through drawing Crazy Characters and  thinking about algorithms and abstraction. 

We also were introduced to the Climate Change resources:

Recycling warriors (for KS1 pupils) using the PaintZ app.

Planet Protectors (for Y3 and Y4 pupils) using StopMotionStudio to make an animation

Power Savers (for Y5 and Y6 pupils) using Canva to make a video

using tech to support pupils with SENDWill Franklin then introduced us to some tools to support learners with SEND in the classroom, including the Microsoft Immersive reader; speech to text to support writing; the Easy Dyslexia Aid app and Ridit. He also reminded us that we can use the built in accessibility tools in any of the devices that we use ourselves and with pupils.

Finally Alison Sheldon gave us five top tips for computing 5 top tips for using tech in EYFSin the EYFS. It was great to see how technology can be incorporated  into play and to have some recommendations of useful sites and apps such as Poisson Rouge and Efexio

The second half of the morning was based around physical computing using the Crumble kit and our laptops. In Northampton this was led by Neil Rickus and in Leicester by John Jeffries. This was an opportunity for the students to write code to make things happen in the real world, a powerful learning experience for us and for pupils. This resource can help us connect computing to Design technology and Science as well as other curriculum areas. 


Crumble kit and codeThe students tinkered with the kit and code, learning make lights change colour and go on and off, and make motors and buzzers work.

This kit can be borrowed by schools from local NCCE hubs – these can be searched for here.


Your local hubs are:

Beauchamp College (Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Rutland)

Denbigh College (Milton Keynes and Northants)

Upton Primary School (Northants) (Satellite school, launched last week)

If you or your school is seeking support and inspiration with the computing curriculum there are some great resources and people available through the organisations you met this week. 

Next steps:

Join CAS, Barefoot Computing, Teach Computing and subscribe to Hello World.

Follow the following accounts on twitter to add them to your developing personal learning network: @CompAtSch, @CASInclude, @HelloWorld_Edu, @BArefootComp, @RaspberryPi_org, and search for the people you met this week as well.

Look at the online and face to face events available through your local hub or nationally.

Think about your own subject knowledge and what your school offers in this area and how you might go further as you move through your career. 

November 17, 2021
by Jean

The Van Gogh Immersive Experience

This week the FDLT Year 1 students visited the Van Gogh Immersive Experience in Leicester. It is set in All Saints Church in the centre of Leicester and is based around using Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) digital technology to experience the world and art of Vincent Van Gogh in a new way. 

Van Gogh's bedroom recreatedIt begins with some background information about Van Gogh’s life using a time line, a short video and a recreation in real life of the bedroom from one of his paintings: “Bedroom at Arles”, painted in 1889.

This allows children to really step inside the painting so introducing them to it before the visit would be a good idea. Here’s some information about the painting from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

It makes me think of how we might plan and resource imaginative play in the Early Years and beyond with the world of a painting as the focus, where we often would use stories or areas of the curriculum as the focus for the learning environment.

some photos of the experienceThe next section of the experience is the immersive part that uses AR technology to bring the life and world of Van Gogh to life. Projections are made onto the walls and floor accompanied by the words of Van Gogh from his letters and diaries and some music. We were able to sit on the carpet, benches or deck chairs and immerse ourselves in the experience. Some of it was creating a sensory experience around the paintings, with water pouring from the river paintings and some brought the paintings to life by connecting them, such as when all the landscapes were displayed and a train ran through them all the way around the room.

experiencing VR

The next section contains some activities for children – drawing on blank walls with crayons and drawing and uploading their sketches into a display using a QR code.

The final section was for the students to put on VR headsets and fully be taken into another world! This started in Van Gogh’s bedroom and then took us outside to explore the landscape that inspired some of his paintings. This really allowed us to see his inspiration and what he created in response to it. 

Taken altogether the students experienced the life and art of an artist in a  number of different ways: it would be interesting to see how this could be used to support and inspire learning for pupils of a range of ages, as well as some of the challenges that they might need to overcome.

Dede et al. (2017, p.4) define this kind of digital experience as “Immersion in a mediated, simulated experience (VR, MUVE, or AR) involves the willing suspension of disbelief.” This is an approach that we often use with pupils in the classroom in stories and drama and so exploring how digital techniques might develop this further is an interesting idea. You can explore some other classroom approaches to AR using mobile devices in this digital book.


Dede C.J., Jacobson J. and Richards J. (2017) Introduction: Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Realities in Education. In: Liu D., Dede C., Huang R. and Richards J. (eds) Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Realities in Education. Singapore: Springer. pp.1-19.