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September 2015

rf_discuss.jpgDo you want to make connections, showcase your work and find out more on recent innovations in learning and knowledge technology research? Register now for the STL Research Fest, our annual event bringing together the wider community of researchers and practitioners in the sciences and technologies of learning to exchange ideas and form new collaborations.

What to expect

We expect the Fest, which takes place this year on Thurs Nov 5th in the Charles Perkins Centre Hub at the University of Sydney, to attract about 150 people for a full day of activities. Our program depends on what our attendees want to see and show but you can expect: plenaries; parallel workshop, demonstration and roundtable sessions; poster sessions; and the opportunity to network over catered breaks.

Details will be posted here, on our website, and emailed to registrants in advance of the Fest.

Want to present?

If you would like to submit a poster or run a seminar, roundtable or workshop event, please register as soon as possible at The closing date for submission content is Oct 4th. Want to present but don’t have results yet? Our poster sessions attract a diverse range of topics at various stages of research. It's a great chance to let others know about your research or present research design, and to get useful feedback and contacts. Some of the posters from 2014 are available online at If you, or someone you know, might be interested in presenting please feel free to contact us and forward this information on.

Register now

Registration to submit posters, presentations and other content is open until Oct 4th. You can register to attend until Oct 21st. Registration is free but needed for catering purposes. Register at or below.


Traces on the Walls and Traces in the Air: Inscriptions and Gestures in Educational Design Team Meetings

Imagine having to explain to your colleagues during a face-to-face design meeting what your idea looks like. Designers in many fields such as architecture, engineering, and web design are trained in expressing their ideas using drawings and sketches. These designers are encouraged to learn how to draw and to avoid disposing of their sketches, even when they are just messy “scribblings”. A significant portion of the literature in Design Studies is dedicated to the study of visual representations and in particular to hand-drawn sketches produced during the initial ideational phase. In contrast, very little is known about how educational designers use drawing and sketching to support their communication in face-to-face design team meetings.

In this presentation I will describe the findings from my PhD study in which I investigated how five groups of educational designers created and used inscriptions in support of their design activities. Inscriptions are defined here as all types of drawings, sketches, and visual marks created in support of design activities.

A face-to-face design session often involves multimodal communication thus requiring the analysis of other modes such as gestures. In this study gestures were often used as an additional communicative channel. They functioned as complementary representational means through which the participants made sense of the inscriptions.

The results from this study contribute to our understanding of the multimodal nature of communication in face-to-face design and have implications for the design and function of next-generation design tools and design environments, as well as for the training of educational designers.

DW267.jpgA Research on Learning and Education Innovation seminar with Dewa Wardak. Dewa Wardak is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Centre for Research on Computer Supported Learning and Cognition (CoCo), University of Sydney. Dewa’s main research area focuses on understanding the role of visual representations, in particular free-hand sketching, and their use by educational designers in design team settings. Her research interests include design for learning, design of online learning environments, learning by design, collaborative learning, online learning communities, and knowledge visualization.

Event details
• When: 16 Sept, 11.00-12.30 (come at 10.45 for refreshments)
• Where: Room 612, Education Building A35
• This seminar will not be available online or recorded.
• No need to RSVP, just come on the day.

Join us on 9 September for "Cognitive load theory" a Research on Learning and Education Innovation seminar with Professor John Sweller, Emeritus Professor of Educational Psychology in the School of Education, University of New South Wales.

Cognitive load theory uses our knowledge of human cognition to devise instructional procedures. The following aspects of human cognition are critical to instructional design.

First, based on evolutionary educational psychology, cognitive load theory assumes that most topics taught in educational and training institutions are ones that we have not specifically evolved to learn.
Second, these instructionally relevant topics require learners to acquire domain-specific, rather than generic, cognitive knowledge.
Third, while generic cognitive knowledge does not require explicit instruction because we have evolved to acquire it, domain-specific concepts and skills that provide the content of educational syllabi, do require explicit instruction.

These three factors interact with the well-known capacity and duration constraints of working memory to delineate a cognitive architecture relevant to instructional design. Because the ability to learn biologically secondary, explicitly taught, domain-specific skills is limited by the capacity of a person's working memory, cognitive load theory has been developed to provide techniques that reduce unnecessary working memory load when teaching these types of skill.

  • When: 11am–12.30pm
  • Where: Room 612, Education Building A35
  • More info available here
  • This seminar will not be available online or recorded.
Dr John Sweller is Emeritus Professor of Educational Psychology in the School of Education, University of New South Wales (UNSW). His research reputation is associated with cognitive load theory, an instructional theory based on our knowledge of human cognitive architecture. Professor Sweller initiated work on the theory in the early 1980s. Subsequently, “ownership” of the theory shifted to his research group at UNSW and then to a large group of international researchers. The theory is now a contributor to both research and debate on issues associated with human cognitive architecture, its links to evolution by natural selection, and the instructional design consequences that follow. It is one of the few theories to have generated a large range of novel instructional design effects based on human cognitive architecture. These include: goal-free; worked-example; split-attention; isolated-interacting elements; and collective working-memory effects. His work has been cited 10,000–20,000 times.

About the Blog

Research by the University's Centre for Research on Learning and Innovation (CRLI).