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UNESCO Chair of Data Science in Higher Education Learning and Teaching

The UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Chair of data science in higher education learning and teaching was established in 2016 with the purpose to advance global knowledge, practice and policy in applying data science to transform higher education learning and teaching that improves personalization, access and effectiveness of education for all.

The Chair works closely with the DVC Academic and DVC Research to set targets, find and leverage resources toward the aim and develop Curtin’s capacity for expanding on the research base and opportunities created by the Chair’s activities.


The objectives of the Chair are to:

  • Strengthen global cooperation among researchers, policy makers and practitioners to advance data science knowledge, tools and practices in higher education learning and teaching. The chair will convene a global biannual meeting and encourage and attend regional meetings that bring together people from a diversity of countries. Network meetings will be arranged to occur alongside meetings such as the edX Global Forum in order to maximize people’s time and energies. Strategies will be developed to extend to communities that are not yet participating in these kinds of activities.
  • Create poles of excellence and innovation at the regional and subregional level that advance knowledge, tools and practices of data science in all fields of knowledge. The chair and network will develop the knowledge base for researcher preparation in data science in fields that need to accelerate progress in understanding the role and potential of big data. Books, articles, training materials, and online seminars will be developed to support individual and team-based learning. MOOCs will be developed for edX distribution to an audience of over 11 million people and for modification and adaptation by others.
  • Reinforce the dynamism of networks and partnerships that promote transdisciplinary research on the use of data science to improve the global enterprise of higher education teaching and learning. The chair will provide thought leadership and organizational support for the evolution of a community of practice and will provide that network with learning options, materials and delivery mechanisms.


The projects of the Chair investigate how to create and validate the psychometrics of interactive digital media learning, the methods and best practices of embedding and automating observations and providing feedback to learners and the assessment of learning in digital game and challenge-based learning.


  • Developing Multidisciplinary and Multicultural Competences through Gamification and Challenge-Based Collaborative Learning
    • Objectives: to improve student learning and performance by better preparing them to work in multidisciplinary and multicultural teams; and motivating students through the deployment of gamification and challenge-based learning.
  • Building Australian Technology Network Institutional Capacity for Text Analytics
    • Objectives: to build long-term technical and organizational capacity for ATN institutions to apply natural language processing techniques in order to collaboratively address strategic organizational priorities.
  • Curtin Challenge
    • Objectives: to support individual and team-based learning via gamified, challenge-based, open-ended, inquiry-based learning experiences that integrate automated feedback and rubric-driven assessment capabilities.
  • Digital and Blended Services for Rural and Remote Students
    • Objectives: to address higher educational access disadvantages, raise aspirations and prepare people for higher education by directly reaching the learners of all ages as well as the instructors and mentors who assist them.
  • High Achieving Students Strategy
    • Objectives: to research and develop new scalable models of educational service alternatives enhanced by technologies, create networks of schools and learning organizations, and replicate and share the models and strategies for increasing human capital in states, regions and countries.



Gibson, D. C. (2018). Unobtrusive observation of team learning attributes in digital learning. Frontiers in Psychology, 9(MAY), 1–5.

Ifenthaler, D., Greiff, S., Gibson, D., Grief, S., & Gibson, D. (2018). Making use of data for assessments: Harnessing analytics and data science. In J. Voogt, G. Knezek, R. Christensen, & K.-W. Lai (Eds.), Second Handbook of Information Technology in Primary and Secondary Education. (Second). Cham: Springer. Retrieved from

Gibson, D., Broadley, T., Downie, J., & Wallet, P. (2018). Evolving Learning Paradigms: Re-Setting Baselines and Collection Methods of Information and Communication Technology in Education Statistics. Educational Technology & Society, 21(2), 62–73. Retrieved from

Howell, J. A., Roberts, L. D., Seaman, K., & Gibson, D. C. (2018). Are We on Our Way to Becoming a “Helicopter University”? Academics’ Views on Learning Analytics. Technology, Knowledge and Learning, 23(1), 1–20.

Ifenthaler, D., & Gibson, D. (submitted). The dynamics of learning engagement in challenge-based online learning. In ICALT.


de Freitas, S., Gibson, D., Alvarez, V., Irving, L., Charleer, S., & Verbert, K. (2017). How to use gamified dashboards and learning analytics for providing immediate student feedback and performance tracking in higher education. In WWW2017 (p. 6).

Delcker, J., & Ifenthaler, D. (2017). Computational thinking as an interdisciplinary approach to computer science school curricula: A German perspective. In P. J. Rich & C. Hodges (Eds.), Emerging research, practice, and policy on computational thinking (pp. 49–62). New York, NY: Springer.

Delcker, J., Schumacher, C., & Ifenthaler, D. (2017). Einsatz von App Smashing im Unterricht. In A. Bresges, L. Mähler, R. Stephani, & A. Pallack (Eds.), MINT mit Medien produktiv gestalten (pp. 10–15). Menden: medienstatt.

Egloffstein, M., & Ifenthaler, D. (2017). Employee perspectives on MOOCs for workplace learning. TechTrends, 61(1), 65–70. doi:10.1007/s11528-016-0127-3

Ge, X., & Ifenthaler, D. (2017). Designing engaging educational games and assessing engagement in game-based learning. In R. Zheng & M. K. Gardner (Eds.), Handbook of research on serious games for educational applications (pp. 255–272). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

Gibson, D. C., & Ifenthaler, D. (2017). Preparing the next generation of education researchers for big data in higher education. In B. Kei Daniel (Ed.), Big data and learning analytics: Current theory and practice in higher education (pp. 29–42). Cham: Springer.

Gibson, D., & Ifenthaler, D. (2017). Preparing the next generation of education researchers for big data in higher education. In B. Kei Daniel (Ed.), Big data and learning analytics: Current theory and practice in higher education (pp. 29–42). Springer International Publishing.

Gibson, D., Irving, L., & Scott, K. (2017). Challenge-Based Learning in a Serious Global Game. In N. Lee (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Computer Graphics and Games (pp. 1–4). Cham: Springer International Publishing.

Ifenthaler, D. (2017). Alternate reality games as inventions. In E. G. Carayannis (Ed.), Encyclopedia of creativity, invention, innovation and entrepreneurship (pp. 1–3). New York, NY: Springer.

Ifenthaler, D. (2017). Are higher education institutions prepared for learning analytics? TechTrends, 61(4), 366–371. doi:10.1007/s11528-016-0154-0

Ifenthaler, D. (2017). Designing effective digital learning environments: toward learning analytics design. Technology, Knowledge and Learning, 22(3), 401–404. doi:10.1007/s10758-017-9333-0

Ifenthaler, D. (2017). Learning analytics design. In L. Lin & J. M. Spector (Eds.), Constructive articulation between the sciences of learning and the instructional design and technology communities (pp. 202–211). New York, NY: Routledge.

Ifenthaler, D. (2017). Learning analytics. In K. Peppler (Ed.), The SAGE encyclopedia of out-of-school learning (pp. 417–420). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Ifenthaler, D. (2017). Models for creative inventions. In E. G. Carayannis (Ed.), Encyclopedia of creativity, invention, innovation and entrepreneurship (pp. 1–3). New York, NY: Springer.

Ifenthaler, D. (2017). Technologiebasiertes Instruktionsdesign. bwp@ Berufs- und Wirtschaftspädagogik – online, 5, 1–12.

Ifenthaler, D., Gibson, D., & Dobozy, E. (2017). The synergistic and dynamic relationship between learning design and learning analytics. ASCILITE 2017, 1–5.

Mah, D.-K., & Ifenthaler, D. (2017). Academic staff perspectives on first-year students’ academic competencies. Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education, 9(4), 630–640. doi:10.1108/JARHE-03-2017-0023

Roberts, L. D., Chang, V., & Gibson, D. (2017). Ethical Considerations in Adopting a University- and System-Wide Approach to Data and Learning Analytics. In Big Data and Learning Analytics in Higher Education (pp. 89–108). Cham: Springer International Publishing.

Roll, M., & Ifenthaler, D. (2017). Bedingungsfaktoren für bildungstechnologische Innovation. Hinweise aus vertiefenden Analysen aktueller Bildungsmonitoringstudien. SchulVerwaltung NRW, 28(7–8), 203–205.


Gibson, D., and D. Ifenthaler. 2016. “Preparing the next generation of education researchers for big data in higher education.” In Big Data and Learning Analytics in Higher Education: Current Theory and Practice, 29-42

Gibson, D., Broadley, T., & Downie, J. (2016). Blended learning in a converged model of university transformation. In C. P. Lim & L. Wang (Eds.), Blended learning for quality higher education: Selected case studies on implementation from Asia-Pacific (pp. 235–264). Paris, France: UNESCO.

Gibson, D., Coleman, K., & Irving, L. (2016). Learning journeys in higher education: Designing digital pathways badges for learning, motivation and assessment. (D. Ifenthaler, N. Bellin-Mularski, & D.-K. Mah, Eds.), Foundations of Digital Badges and Microcredentials. Cham: Springer International Publishing.

Gibson, D., Ifenthaler, D., & Orlic, D. (2016). Open Assessment Resources for Deeper Learning. In Open Education: International Perspectives in Higher Education.

Ifenthaler, D. (2016). Challenging authentic digital scenarios. Technology, Knowledge and Learning, 21(2), 151–153. doi:10.1007/s10758-016-9285-9

Ifenthaler, D., & Bellin-mularski, N. (2016). Foundation of digital badges and micro-Credentials: Demonstrating and recognizing knowledge and competencies. Springer International Publishing.

Ifenthaler, D., & Erlandson, B. E. (2016). Learning with data: Visualization to support teaching, learning, and assessment. Technology, Knowledge and Learning, 21(1), 1–3. doi:10.1007/s10758-015-9273-5

Ifenthaler, D., & Schumacher, C. (2016). Student perceptions of privacy principles for learning analytics. Educational Technology Research and Development, 64(5), 923–938. doi:10.1007/s11423-016-9477-y

Ifenthaler, D., & Schweinbenz, V. (2016). Students’ acceptance of tablet PCs in the classroom. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 48(4), 306–321. doi:10.1080/15391523.2016.1215172

Ifenthaler, D., & Tracey, M. W. (2016). Exploring the relationship of ethics and privacy in learning analytics and design: implications for the field of educational technology. Educational Technology Research and Development, 64(5), 877–880.

Lai, K. W., Knezek, G., Voogt, J., & Gibson, D. (2016). EDUsummIT: An innovative knowledge building community for educational researchers, practitioners, and policy makers. Educational Technology and Society, 19(3), 5–15. Retrieved from

Lin, L., Mills, L., & Ifenthaler, D. (2016). Collaboration, multi-tasking and problem solving performance in shared virtual spaces. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 28(3), 344–357. doi:10.1007/s12528-016-9117-x

Mah, D. K., Bellin-Mularski, N., & Ifenthaler, D. (2016). Moving forward with digital badges in education. In Foundation of Digital Badges and Micro-Credentials: Demonstrating and Recognizing Knowledge and Competencies.

Roberts, L. D., Howell, J. A., Seaman, K., & Gibson, D. C. (2016). Student Attitudes toward Learning Analytics in Higher Education: “The Fitbit Version of the Learning World.” Frontiers in Psychology, 7.

Spector, J. M., D. Ifenthaler, D. Sampson, L. J. Yang, E. Mukama, A. Warusavitarana, K. L. Dona, K. Eichhorn, A. Fluck, R. Huang, S. Bridges, J. Lu, Y. Ren, X. Gui, C. C. Deneen, J. S. Diego, and D. C. Gibson. 2016. “Technology enhanced formative assessment for 21st century learning.” Educational Technology and Society 19 (3): 58-71.