Join the 4D community


Our Training and Research coordinator  Inés shares some more details on the 4D community and why we are working hard to create a network of immersive practitioners. If you’re working in an immersive space, we’d love for you to be involved. Full details are below or you can get in touch with the 4D team here.

Sharing immersive experiences

Immersive environments, by definition, are spaces that take people outside of their everyday experiences to immerse them in the creation of new worlds and perspectives. While this is what makes them so powerful, it also means that sometimes sharing or retelling an immersive experience outside of the space can be hard to do under the glare of the staffroom’s strip lighting.

As a team that all have direct experience of the education and healthcare sectors, we are aware of the many daily priorities, responsibilities and challenges that staff have to juggle. Time pressures, low resources, and limited time to get together as a team mean that sharing best practice can be difficult.

However, since we launched in 2009 we’ve seen and heard so many incredible examples of use – from using the tunnel theme to develop vowel sounds in KS3 French to integrating props with a Hansel & Gretel timeline to take young people on a journey of texture – that we knew we wanted to do something to encourage sharing of practice right across the network. This meant engaging people from our 4D champions to less confident users still exploring how to get the most out of their space.

Creative communities of practice

So, where to begin? During a masters degree, I wrote a postgrad university essay on ‘Interpreting arts participant groups as Communities of Practice’.

I had heard the phrase ‘Communities of Practice’ banded about, but to me it seemed bizarre to create a separate group and strategy for learning when learning was exactly what these arts participation sessions were about. If we are using creative means to enhance learning and collaboration for the participants, doesn’t this suggest that we could be using creativity for our own learning too?

Etienne Wenger, educational theorist and one of the most respected voices at the Communities of Practice (CoP) school, said that “learning can be the reason the community comes together or an incidental outcome of members’ interactions”. That is to say, a group may be performing as a CoP without necessarily being aware of it, whether they are catching up about a pupil’s response to a trip to the moon over lunch, or uploading a short video of their latest immersive session in the spooky forest to YouTube.

So, we were faced with a task – how can we help this informal learning across schools extend to a larger network, so more people can give and take inspiration from it, without it becoming a burden for our busy practitioners?

For us, the answer had to lie somewhere in the field of creativity. 

We already know the teachers we work with are highly creative, and if creativity can be used as a teaching tool that gives more ownership to pupils, then it can also be used as a way to strengthen and develop a sense of community and sharing across practitioners or, as our friend Wenger puts it, “[create] an environment in which the value communities bring is acknowledged”

We knew this sharing needed to be fun, lightweight and inspiring. Crucially, we also knew it had to be led not by us but by the expertise of the practitioners on the ground.

4D exchange

From this need we developed a series of regional inter-school creative network sessions called 4D exchange. 4D exchange is a regular event where teachers working in 4D immersive spaces can exchange ideas, best practice and resources with each other, in an immersive environment.

Presenters each have 5 minutes to share an overview of an idea, lesson or resource they have found particularly effective in their space. How they present this is up to them – some may take us on a mini immersive journey through their created timeline, others may bring along the props they used, whilst others will share samples of the resulting works that pupils created. We ask for very little in advance – just a brief sentence around your topic and any content you’d like us to upload, so that impact on capacity is minimum. The sessions last 90 minutes, with a break included, but you could easily replicate something on a smaller scale during your weekly staff meetings.

After the presentation there is plenty of room for discussion and hands-on experimenting in the space, followed by a chance to see new content in development, and hear some short tips and tricks from the 4D creative team. The sessions also allow us to gather feedback from our spaces to see how we can support them in the future. And, of course, biscuits are provided! We’ve found these sessions to be fun and informative and, crucially, the practitioners who attended have left inspired and full of ideas!

“Just wanted to say a big thank you for the meet up, really great to meet and hear from others who are using the spaces in unique ways, hugely beneficial.” – 4D exchange Salford participant

So what’s next?

As our community develops, we’re learning more and more about what you need to help you develop as a 4D practitioner. From cloud-based content sharing to teacher exchanges, we’re always keen to develop new resources and approaches to help the creative exchange of ideas. 

Get in touch!

How do you share best practice about immersive learning across your school? Do you have any feedback or good news stories you’d like to share with us? Or would you be interested in setting up your own 4D exchange hub?   

If so, we’d love to hear from you! Get in touch at or 0844 414 2595. Welcome to the 4D community!

Our next 4D exchange is taking place on the 25th March at Kensington Community Primary School in Liverpool. 

If you’d like to attend then register here 


Wenger, Etienne. Communities of Practice. Learning, Meaning and Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998. Print

—. “Communities of Practice. Learning as a Social System.” The Systems Thinker. June/July 1998. Web.

Soria-Donlan, Inés. Interpreting participant groups as Communities of Practice: Changing the way we look at arts participation. 2012. Web.

SEND reforms – latest news and support documents


As we have been covering on the 4D Blog, the upcoming SEND reforms could have an impact on practice in your school. From September 1st, schools will be expected to have clear systems for identification, assessment, monitoring and securing appropriate support for children with special educational needs.

The latest news is that as of yesterday, these reforms have now been approved by the House of Lords. Following this, the House of Commons has today voted to ratify the Committee’s decision. The SEND Code of Practice is therefore now approved by Parliament.

Information to download and understand
With lots to consider, we have compiled some key documents below which you can download. Just follow the relevant links. These resources are hosted elsewhere so if the links have been moved please let us know by sending Pete in our team a quick email. 

  • The new SEND Code of Practice can be downloaded from the government website here.
  • Whilst a school leaders slide pack is available here and contains key information to help headteachers introduce new practices to staff and governors.
  • There is also guidance notes which you can download here.

What can 4D creative offer you to support the implementation of this legislation?

Within the 4D team, there are a range of skills and knowledge from across the disability agenda. Our operations manager, Colette Gollcher also works on behalf of the Council for Disabled Children supporting local authorities in their preparation for these reforms. We have a variety of workshops for you to consider:

  • A full briefing session to understand the upcoming reforms to enable you to support your children, young people, their families, your staff and governors.
  • A workshop explaining how to utilise an immersive space for person centred annual reviews
  • A day of live planning for a group of young people and their families who may be starting the journey in education health and case plans
  • Learn how to develop immersive content relevant to preparing children and young people for adulthood
  • A bespoke workshop designed around your ideas and intended outcomes. Just get in touch to find out more.

If you’d like to find out more about an immersive space being installed at your school contact Louise on

Alternatively, to discuss a workshop on the SEND reforms, please call on 0844 414 2595 or email:

Finally keep up to date with all our news by following us on Twitter and signing up to our newsletter below.


Multimedia content creation with Z-arts part 2


Our collaboration with the Sat‘dy Allsorts at Z-arts in Manchester came to a close recently.  We had a fantastic time working with the young people as they became content developers learning how to create their own immersive experiences. Read the first part of this journey here.

The content which the young people at Sat’dy Allsorts created was excellent, they’d really embraced the brief and had researched images online using filtered searches to find Creative Commons licensed photos and worked in groups to create some instrumental music to go with them. As the ‘IMMERSE’ project came to a close, we went back to the centre to see and hear the finished results and to show the parents what the young people had achieved.

Our portable immersive space, ‘4D Pop Up’ was set up and guests gathered inside as each group introduced their work and gave some information on how they had created the new immersive themes. There was a huge range of themes such as Underwater, Shakespeare, Electricity, Alliteration,  Poverty, and Urban life that it made for a really varied event to share with the parents and public  Some groups chose to perform their pieces of music live alongside the images and videos they had created whilst other groups had produced and recorded their tracks to play through the 4D Pop Up built in sound system.

All of the music that was created was of such a high quality it would fit into any 4D space and the images that were used in each theme really helped to tell a story – we could easily see how teachers could potentially base a lesson around the themes that were created.

The whole project has been a huge success and 4D creative have thoroughly enjoyed working with all the young people on the project over the 8 weeks. Massive thanks must go to Tosin and Saskia at Z-arts and all the young people for working with us to create a really valuable experience for the young musicians and content developers.

Multimedia Content Creation with Z-arts


The power of an image or video with sound and lighting is what creates each unique immersive experience. This could be a primary school learning about The Great Fire of London  or used in a reminiscence session for people with dementia, the key is always great content!

4D creative have recently been commissioned by Z-arts in Manchester to work on a content creation project which we will be following on our blog. Our content developer Lauren and training coordinator Inés take up the story….

Z-arts content creation project

The Sat’dy Allsorts are an urban music collective based at Z-arts who write, record and perform their own music. This year, as part of a grant from Youth Music, Sat’dy Allsorts have been working on different musical projects throughout the year such as writing for silent films, working with the Bridgewater Hall, and now with 4D creative!

The performers are 11-19 years old and range from grime MCs to soul singers. They meet every Saturday morning 11-1pm to work on their tracks and all of them write lyrics and songs in their own time.

Day 1

Using the 4D Pop Up space we have asked the Sat’dy Allsorts to create some immersive content to add to our demo library here at MediaCityUK.

On the first day of the eight week project, we inflated the 4D Pop Up  then asked the young people what they thought it was. We got a some great answers such as, ‘an inflatable disco’ and ‘a spaceship’. The great thing about all the answers, is that they could all be right!

After introducing the group to what 4D creative is all about and the spaces we create, we took the group into the 4D Pop Up and asked them to close their eyes and listen to the sounds we played.  This was all to get our new content creators to start thinking about the importance of sound in making you feel immersed within the space.

Inés took the group on a journey through our content library, starting with 4D Time Tunnel then drifting through space until they arrived on earth, and journeyed from city to forests and onto more abstract themes to show the range of content. This also gave plenty of examples of images, videos, music and soundscapes to give a better idea of what the brief would be for the next eight weeks.

Lauren then went on to explain the content development process which happens internally at 4D creative. Together the group discussed how to source images, the importance of finding non copyright material and finding creative commons content, and then explained some editing techniques as all of these ideas are important learning for those wishing to work within a creative industry.

Having created some theme brief mood boards back at 4D HQ, Lauren then asked the groups to choose which theme they were going to concentrate on for their own content.  These included Poverty, fairytale, conflict, urban culture, electricity, Shakespeare, alliteration, Manchester and emotions.

Mood boards were then created with magazines and internet searching helping to generate a huge range of ideas for each new theme.

It was a great start to a wonderful project with the Sat’dy Allsorts and Z-arts. The young people seemed enthusiastic and eager to start their content by finding the best images and creating original music for the immersive environment.

We look forward to the next session in a few weeks!

To find out more about Z-arts and the Sat’day Allsorts visit:

The Great Fire of London workshop at St Hugh’s Primary School


Last week we travelled to St Hugh’s Primary in Liverpool to run one of our new immersive workshops. The 4D Pop Up was the scene for as creatives to run the session looking at the Great Fire Of London.

The two primary classes entered a time tunnel in the 4D Pop Up where they met the man who started the fire, Thomas Farriner. Pupils learnt all about the fire and how it started in the Pie Shop before a newsflash from the 1666 news came in with all the events of the day. As the lesson progressed, a quick press of an iPad dramatically changed the 4D Pop Up to engage the young people and give them new experiences.

Groups then wrote and shared virtual postcards sharing their ideas on how London should be rebuilt using all the knowledge they had developed in the session. It was a fantastic time working with the pupils and we were delighted to see how much the young people learnt and how their confidence grew in the immersive space.

Check out our full gallery below

In the afternoon we also ran the second of our free creative workshops.  We welcomed 25 practitioners to the school and ran a session in the 4D Pop Up before a second workshop in St Hugh’s immersive space. The focus of the event was creativity and best practices for sharing a whole school approach. We’d love for you to join us at our next creative workshop, to register, fill in this form.

Or if you’d like to book a a creative workshop for pupils, then just email Inés on or call on 0844 414 2595


Free taster creative workshops


Are you thinking about how to make creative learning and thinking as part of your environment and curriculum?

Come and find out more about 4D creative and our innovative approach to teaching and learning.

This year, 4D creative will be running regular taster events, starting this month in Manchester followed by Liverpool at the end of February.

Each event will explore how immersive experiences support positive and engaging learning for all children and young people.

This is a chance to explore the immersive experiences we create and gain key skills to inspire young people and innovate learning that can be used in any classroom setting.

The events run by 4D creative and as creatives will be split into two sessions:

Workshop 1

How immersive experiences support creative thinking and learning at a practitioner level both within the classroom and within an immersive space.

Workshop 2

The impact of creative learning and thinking on outcomes and achievement for children and young people for senior leaders.

Full details and to book:

26th February – Liverpool Training Workshop at St Hugh’s Primary School, Liverpool. 1.30 – 3pm or 3.30 – 5pm

To book your free place, simply register below using Eventbrite or call us on 0844 414 2595 – please note each event and session will be identical.

Our March and May events will be launched very soon. Email Pete in our office to be kept up to date with events as they are launched.

Liverpool Event


Save The Cycle Workshop at Holywell High School


Just before Christmas, we took the 4D Pop Up to Holywell High for a days workshop on the Carbon Cycle. Our friends from AS creatives joined us to lead a day long workshop for pupils from a selection of high schools from the local area.

Together, the group explored the impact we have on our planet, global warming and what we can do to prevent further damage. After an introduction in the 4D Pop Up, pupils explored the carbon cycle, wrote presentations and gathered content. At the end of the day each group presented their findings in the style of news reports to their peers inside the 4D Pop Up.

In a suitably overblown manor, we have quickly pulled together some photos of the event into iMovie. Saving the world should always involve ridiculously empowering music! iMovie trailer maker is one of our favourite ways to capture videos like the one below and is always something we recommend to the schools we work with.

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This year we will be launching our new programme of creative workshops – explore immersive learning in any setting for any age group. If you would like to find out more then just get in touch via our contact page.

Cathy at the Westminster Education Forum

Last week, Cathy, our creative director was invited to speak at the Westminster Education Forum. The day was based around the future of school buildings – new designs, improving teaching spaces and utilising new technologies. Cathy presented on some of 4D’s solutions for immersive learning and also discussed her work as a den maker and trainer.

A lively discussion was enjoyed by all but the lasting memory for Cathy was the ironically poor use of space for the event. How can we discuss using space well for young people when we are so restrained in our own output?

Cathy explains:

“An interesting day, spent in a lovely building in Whitehall unfortunately also a perfect example of not using a great space well! The shape of the room, based on a shield, has great potential but why do we always do things the same way? 

We all sat in rows looking at a large AV screen with the panel sat behind the table on a mini stage. What would happen if we all sat in two huge circles with the panelists in the centre and the projected Powerpoint presentations on the ceiling?

Why not? We ask our teachers and learners to think differently about improving space yet are often stuck in our own ways.Would we have had a different experience? Would we have been more or less engaged? Could we have used our personal devices to vote or comment on a live, streamed output?…

Hopefully I got the delegates to consider thinking differently about using space, use what you have but differently and most importantly be led by teaching and learning when thinking about space and utilising technology”

You can read Cathy’s full transcript of her talk here.  Full details on the Westminster Education Forum can be found here

Upcoming events

We will be at the Kidz Up North exhibition and Westminster Education Forum in the coming weeks.

Kidz Up North is one of the largest free exhibitions dedicated to children with special needs, their families and the professionals working with them. We have seen the impact our spaces are having on SEN schools across the UK so this will be a great chance to explain to more people about what we do at 4D creative and the success stories from our current spaces.

When: 29/11/12
Where: Reebok Stadium, Bolton, BL6 6JW
Stand number: M54
To register: Click here

Cathy has also been invited back to speak at the Westminster Education Forum in January. The topic of discussion at the event is “The future of school buildings – new designs, improving teaching space and utilising new technologies”; an area Cathy is hugely passionate about. With the coalition’s Priority Schools Build Programme moving forward at the moment, it’s a key time to discuss how the next wave of new schools in the UK will look and feel. This should be a fascinating and informative discussion with a range of speakers including the Department For Education, head teachers and local authority officials.

When: 16/01/13
Where: Central London
To register: Click here

If you’re coming to either event, let us know and we will see you there!

4D Teaching and Learning.

We recently launched our brand new Teaching and Learning offerings. Gav, our vastly experienced and all round lovely training practitioner, has developed a series of options that are aimed to increase creativity in your staff and school.

We offer a whole range of INSET training packages and creative workshops to ensure you get the most from your 4D Immersive Space. These are a great way to build confidence and maximise the potential of the space.

The Options…

So What Now? 

Exploring the basics of what you can do in a 4D Immersive Space and how it fits into your settings style. Experience a taster of creative immersive learning approaches and an introduction to our software, 4D create.

Content, Creation and Creativity.

A greater examination of the opportunities our software 4D create can offer you. How to source elements and use them to enhance the space, quickly and effectively. Finding out what works, what has impact and how to involve young people in the process. How to create interactive content can also be part of any workshop where this is an aspect of your 4D Immersive Space.

Creative Thinking and Learning.

How to engage with all learning styles and recognising the characteristics of the creative learner, focusing on originality, imagination, having a purpose and adding value.

Creative Workshops & Masterclasses.

From storytelling to den making, drama workshops to bespoke creative sessions, we are developing a range of exciting sessions to inspire learners and colleagues.

Have a different course in mind? 

Just get in touch, we can design training sessions to meet your needs and intended outcomes.

The next steps... To book a course, call the 4D creative team on 0844 414 2595 or email us via our contact page.


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