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It’s that time of year again – time to welcome new readers! In this post we will demystify all the acronyms and tell you a little about us, our events and where to find us on social media.

Who are CoCo? We are the Centre for Research on Computer Supported Learning and Cognition (you can see why we shorten it), a University of Sydney Research Centre in the Faculty of Education and Social Work. Our core team of about 30 staff and students complete research on the sciences and technologies of learning. We also offer postgraduate study options at the Masters and PhD levels.

CoCo is a core part of a larger research network at the University - STL (The Sciences and Technologies of Learning research network). This network includes other facilities and centres at the University, such as CHAI (Computer Human Adapted Interaction), LATTE (Learning & Affect Technologies Engineering), and the Design Studio. Our multidisciplinary research looks at enhancing the ability of all those involved in education - formal and informal - to create learning environments that help people develop the skills, knowledge and dispositions to make innovative contributions.

Our events include:

  • Seminars on learning and educational innovation, presented by local and international experts, on most Wednesdays in semester

  • STL Research Fest - an annual event inviting researchers and practitioners to exchange ideas, showcase work, and catch up on recent innovations. Our next fest is on 5 November 2015 in the Charles Perkins Centre Hub.

To hear about upcoming events, join our mailing list -
To attend our Research Fest on Nov 5th go to
CoCo website -
CoCo Twitter - @CoCoCentre
STL website -
STL Twitter - @STLSydney
STL Blog -
YouTube -
For general information on CoCo or STL, email

MJ-Talk-IMG_0084.jpgProfessor Michael Jacobson will be giving two sets of talks as part of a trip to South America in in August and September 2014. He will first visit the Faculty of Education at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile to speak on his work related to learning science with virtual worlds and immersive learning environments.

He then travels to Brazil to present a talk at a four day international seminar Modeling complex systems for public policies. This seminar is being held in Brazilia, Brazil and is sponsored by the Institute for Applied Economic Research, which is an agency that supports public policy formation and development programs in Brazil.

Michael is a Professor and Chair of Education in the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney. He also is the Co-director of the Centre for Research on Computer-supported Learning and Cognition (CoCo) and Deputy Director, Institute for Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education. His research has focused on the design of learning technologies to foster deep conceptual understanding, conceptual change, and knowledge transfer in challenging conceptual domains. Most recently, his work has explored learning with immersive virtual environments and agent-based modeling and visualization tools, as well as cognitive and learning issues related to understanding new scientific perspectives emerging from the study of complex systems.

MJ.jpgFor readers based outside Australia, in the next few weeks you can see STL lead researcher, Professor Michael Jacobson, present in various cities around the globe on virtual learning environments and the use of technology for learning in science.

Michael will be in Beijing on 23 April giving an invited talk - Beyond Serious Games: Virtual Learning Environments for Understanding Complex Knowledge and Skills - at Tsinghua University. He will also be having meetings on collaborative research projects at Beijing Normal University 24-25 April.

He then travels on to San Francisco, and the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association from 27 April – 1 May, where he will present a paper; Computational Scientific Inquiry with Virtual Worlds and Agent-based Models: new Ways of "Doing" Science to Learn Science. In addition, he will serve as a discussant for a paper session Facilitating Learning in Science Through Technology.


RC.jpgAssociate Professor Rafael Calvo will present a seminar on positive computing at the University of Cambridge, UK, on Feb 21st. Rafael will present as part of the Rainbow Research Group seminars' series, a graphics & interaction group in the Computer Laboratory at the university.

Digital technologies have made their way into all the aspects of our lives that, according to psychology, influence our wellbeing—everything from social relationships and curiosity to engagement and learning. By bringing together research and methodologies well-established in psychology, education, neuroscience and human-computer interaction, we can begin to cultivate a new field dedicated to the design and development of technology that supports wellbeing and human potential. More specifically, in this seminar I will present a summary of our current projects on Affect and Learning technologies. This will be followed with an introduction to our Human-Computer interaction work aiming to support psychological wellbeing. The suggested HCI framework builds on positive psychology and wellbeing literature, including that from neuroscience.

Rafael presents on Thursday 21 February 2013, from 11:15-12:15 in the Rainbow Room (SS03) at the Computer Laboratory. If you'd like more information, see here.

On Wednesday, November 14 there will be a workshop on the University of Sydney's integrated learning spaces, technologies and program design.

The workshop will run from 1.00pm to 3.00pm. It is intended to expand knowledge on how the University is pursing a vision of integrating physical and virtual learning and teaching space, according to Associate Professor Rob Ellis, Director eLearning at the Learning Space. "In a colloquium held earlier this year, attendees sought information on current working examples and principles of technology-mediated program design at the University."


A/Prof Manjula Sharma will feature on the expert panel on Big Questions at the Science Teachers' Workshop to be held at the University of Sydnety on the 5th and 6th of November.

The Workshop is held every second year, attracting around 200 teachers, and has been running successfully for some 30 years. The theme for 2012 is "A Big Year", reflecting a pretty spectacular 12-18 months on many fronts with Nobel prizes, Curiosity on Mars, transit of Venus, extrasolar planets, black holes, quantum simulators, photonics chips, Polywell, SKA, AIN and the Higgs boson. Teachers could ask questions from any of these areas as well as on curriculum matters. The workshop has targeted activities related to the HSC and professional development.

Join us this Wednesday for a seminar by CoCo PhD student Daniel Burn titled “Social Networks in eLearning Systems”.

One of the most striking changes in the use of the internet over the last decade has been the emergence of Social Networking Sites, websites whose primary focus is social interaction. Most students attending University today are members of one or more social networking sites. Enormous learning benefits might be found by discovering ways of harnessing for education a tool this popular and attractive to students. This presentation explores a study, in the early stages of data collection, which is building social networking tools into an existing virtual learning environment to explore how this might enhance learning.

When: Weds Oct 24, 11.00am - 11.40am (arrive at 10.45am for tea and biscuits)
Where: Education Building (A35), Room 230
More information: “Social Networks in eLearning Systems”
This seminar will be available live online at

Bower.jpg Join us on October 17th when Matt Bower from Macquarie University presents “Research and development in online synchronous learning”.

Matt will present from 11.00am - 12.00pm in the room 230 of the Education Building (A35). His presentation examines what is fundamentally different about synchronous learning and teaching that is enacted online. It raises the question of how to evaluate and somewhat objectively compare different pedagogical approaches that are applied in media-rich online synchronous learning environments, and explains how quantitative multimodal discourse analysis can provide a potential solution.

Matt Bower is a Senior Lecturer in ICT for the School of Education at Macquarie University. His interests centre around how to capitalise upon rapid transformations in the technological and educational landscape.

For more information, and how to attend online, see the full event description on the University calendar.

Join us next Wednesday when Dr Maria Northcote and Dr Kevin Gosselin present a CoCo seminar titled “Threshold concepts: Professional development about online teaching”.


ascilite just announced its 2012 Webinar series program. This year it has a range of presentations on various research approaches in eLearning. Peter Goodyear and I will be co-presenting the last Webinar "ICT-enhanced social and educational research methods", Thursday, 11 October 2012, 1pm NSW time.


I'll be giving a keynote on "Connected Learning" at the Highspeed broadband and higher education forum, University of Melbourne, Thursday 27th September.


On September 19th the STL network present a CoCo-CHAI-LATTE seminar by Professor David Lowe titled "Remote Laboratories: logistical enhancement of pedagogic innovation?"

Lowe.jpgLaboratory experimentation is a central element of learning across the SET disciplines, but has seen little innovation in either use of technology or the underlying pedagogy. The convergence of ubiquitous networking and increasingly rich instrumentation and transducers provides an opportunity for significant innovation with regard to remote access to physical laboratory apparatus. This seminar will discuss the opportunities this creates. Operationally, students have greater flexibility and institutions have the opportunity to share access to a richer pool of apparatus. Pedagogically, there are opportunities to enrich the laboratory experience through aspects such as embedding the laboratory into real-world contexts, augmenting the experience with additional information, and providing richer control over the nature of the experimentation.

A number of research projects will be described ranging from adaptive personalised lab quides, though augmented reality interfaces, into contextualisation in virtual worlds.

  • When:11.00am - 12.00pm
  • Where: Room 124, School of Information Technologies, Building J12
  • This seminar will be available live online.

Professor David Lowe is Associate Dean (Education) and Professor of Software Engineering in the Faculty of Engineering and IT at the University of Sydney. He is also the CEO of The LabShare Institute, a not-for-profit organisation focused on sharing of teaching laboratory infrastructure through the use of remote access technologies.

For more information see the full seminar listing on the University of Sydney events' calendar.

Join us on Wednesday the 12th of September when CoCo research students, Shahadat Hossain Khan and Gilbert Importante, present.

rf_discuss.jpgShahadat Hossain Khan is a PhD student doing research in the area of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in TAFE. He will outline his study on “Technical and Vocational Education (TVE) teachers’ conceptions of and approaches to ICT in professional education”.

Gilbert Importante is researching ICT and community development. He will present “Entanglements in techno-human ecosystems: Implications for sustainable community development”.

This seminar will be also available live online at

  • When: 11.00am - 12.30pm
  • Where: Education Building (A35) Room 230
  • Cost: Free

More information at the Sydney events' homepage.


I'm giving a public lecture at RMIT (360 Swanston Street, Melbourne), Wednesday 5th September, 6.00-7.30. The lecture is part of the RMIT series on Transforming the Future, and I'll be speaking on the following topic: "Learning in a networked world: how do we invent the future of learning?". Come and say hello!

The Computer-Human Adapted Interaction group, CHAI, invite you to a demonstration of their Multi-touch Classroom 2.0.

On Thursday 6th CHAI will demo their vision of a possible “classroom of the future” and deliver a short talk about their research goals. CHAI research explores how teachers can benefit from using interactive tabletops in their classrooms, and hopes to provide teachers with a minimalist control tool to help them orchestrate classroom activities more efficiently through interactive tabletops. The second aim is to provide visual indicators about groups’ activities that can help teachers improve their awareness on the groups’ collaborative processes and possible problems.

Following R&D, a multi-tabletop classroom was arranged at CHAI to enact a number of authentic classroom sessions. They designed a classroom with 4 interactive tabletops, a wall projector and a number of sensors to bring into life a vision of a possible classroom of the future. This classroom will be used during tutorials of an undergraduate Management subject in Week 6 of this semester.

  • When: Thursday, September 6th from 13.00 to 13:45
  • Where: Room 124 (Boardroom), Level 1, School of Information Technologies
  • Who: Roberto Martinez, Kalina Yacef and Judy Kay, in collaboration with Yannis Dimitriadis and Maresa Edbauer
  • More information on the classroom here.

Australian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education (The 18th UniServe Science Conference)
Wednesday 26th to Friday 28th September 2012 at the University of Sydney

Teaching and Learning Standards - What does a standard mean to you?

Further details

The Society for Learning Analytics Research (SoLAR) organises its inaugural SoLAR Southern Flare in Sydney, UTS, 29-30 November 2012. For details see Conference website

Recent Educause special issue is also dedicated to the Learning analytics.

The Institute for Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education announces a seminar

"Why is Evolution so hard to understand?".

Wednesday 15 August 2012 4:30-5:30pm

presented by Beat Schwendimann, Postdoctoral Research Associate, CoCo Research Centre, Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Sydney


Many students leave school with a fragmented understanding of biology, which prohibits them from connecting scientific ideas to their everyday lives. Especially one of the core ideas of biology, the theory of evolution, has been found difficult to understand as it incorporates a wide range of ideas from different areas and often gets in conflict with existing contradictory ideas learners' bring to the classroom. Dr. Schwendimann developed an evolution curriculum, "Gene Pool Explorer", using the web-based inquiry science environment (WISE) that combines concept mapping and guided inquiry activities. The WISE curriculum used an example from human evolution as a case study. This talk will discuss the challenges of teaching and learning the theory of evolution and present findings from implementing the WISE "Gene Pool Explorer" curriculum in authentic science classroom environments.

Dr. Beat A. Schwendimann is a postdoctoral research associate in the Laureate Fellowship team at CoCo. He conducted his Ph.D. as a Fulbright Scholar in science education research at the University of California, Berkeley. After receiving his master degree in biology from the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), he worked for several years as a science educator in Switzerland, USA, and India. Dr. Schwendimann was a research fellow at the Center for Technology Enhanced Learning of Science (TELS) where he developed an evolution curriculum using the web-based inquiry science environment (WISE), dynamic simulations, and different forms of concept maps. He is interested in how different forms of knowledge visualizations can support collaborative construction of connections between scientific concepts. His research interests include science education, technology-supported learning environments, inquiry-based learning, collaborative learning, and knowledge visualizations.

Details: Wednesday 15 August 2012, 4:30-5:30pm. Please join us for refreshments from 4pm.

New Law School Annexe Seminar Room 346, University of Sydney (main campus),

Michael Jacobson, co-director of CoCo, is giving a keynote at the International Conference on Technology Promoting Educational Innovation, at Tsinghua University, Beijing, 11th August. More details.


Some useful upcoming events for those who are interested in Educational Data Mining
SoLAR Flare Practitioner’s Conference: Using Analytics to Create Real Solutions for Real Problems
Purdue University, October 1-3, 2012

10-th School on Data Mining: An intensive 3-day introduction to methods and applications
Department of Knowledge Engineering, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands October 22 - October 24, 2012


Many thanks to Jim Albright and colleagues at the University of Newcastle for the chance to give a talk in the ERIN Lecture series


Peter Reimann and I have been invited to run a workshop on eResearch methods in education for early career researchers at AARE-APERA 2012 conference. Everyone is welcome to join!

Workshop called “Going digital: Harnessing digital technologies for educational research"

Click here for conference program or workshop program

PhD students and Early career researchers who have been using digital technologies in their research projects are invited to submit an abstract and make a workshop presentation.


10th International Conference on Computer Supported Collaborative Learning

“To see the World and a Grain of Sand”

June 15-19, 2013, University of Wisconsin Madison, USA.

Brought to you by ISLS, hosted by the Learning Sciences program at the university of Wisconsin Madison.

About the conference (posted on behalf of the conference organisers)

CSCL is a major international event, organized biennially by ISLS, which gathers together people involved in all aspects of the field of technology-based collaborative learning, including research, education, training and technology. CSCL invites papers on the nature of collaborative learning in technologically supported environments from empirical, theoretical, conceptual and design based perspectives.

Our conference theme, To see the world and a grain of sand: Learning across levels of space, time, and scale” is inspired by (and modified from) William Blake’s poem “Auguries of Innocence” reflects the unique aspect of CSCL in which interactions and learning need to be understood, supported and analyzed at multiple levels. The attention to the theoretical, methodological and technological issues of addressing research at multiple levels is highly relevant to current research in CSCL, as well as to developing an emerging understanding of the epistemological and methodological issues that will shape our intellectual efforts well into the future. More information at conference website.

This was the first ICLS conference for me, thus some insights from a “newcomer” perspective.
I haven’t experienced such explicit manifestation of conceptual “ecology” and “complexity” before in one place. The diversity of perspectives from which learning phenomena is explored was impressive - body, context, representations, social interaction, emotion, cognition, perception, etc. - all different angles and modalities were nicely reflected) in conference sessions that I attended (and often fused together.

I was pleased to see that so many researchers go beyond standard methodological toolbox and invent new research tools for analysing learning data that come in various sizes and shapes (including digital learning traces). I can see a great potential in this “methodological zoo” of eResearch techniques and, particularly, general proliferation of the methodological creativity. Overall, the richness of theoretical thought, methodological rigour and innovation that were represented in the presentations made me finally to believe that the learning sciences can be a science and an innovative science.

Three aspects made me think about the future:


Judy Kay gave an inspiring presentation at ICLS2012 this morning, pushing the boundaries of the field lifewide as well as lifelong.

For more information about Judy's research (and that of the team in CHAI) -
Judy Kay's CHAI webpage

Photos from the first day of the conference can be found here


The 10th International Conference of the Learning Sciences is now underway at the University of Sydney. This is the first time that the conference has been held in Australia. Over 300 researchers involved in the Science of Learning are meeting for the whole of this week, with a program of workshops, keynotes and paper sessions.

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