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UNESCO Chair of Data Science in Higher Education Learning and Teaching

edX Consortium, UNESCO Chair and Curtin University logos
Co-founders of the Curtin UNESCO Chair


Curtin University’s UNESCO Chair of Data Science in Higher Education Learning and Teaching aims to improve personalisation, access and effectiveness of education for all. Working closely with the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research we set targets, locate and leverage resources and develop Curtin’s capacity to advance research while developing new opportunities for teaching and impact. We conduct investigations into digital media learning, game-based learning, and team problem-solving. Our research and development of the Curtin Challenge platform invents and proves the case for a higher education ‘pedagogy of the future’ that relies on innovative delivery of challenges and game-based learning content.

UNESCO Chair Objectives

The objectives of the Chair are to:

  • Strengthen global co-operation among researchers, policymakers and practitioners. We plan and conduct regional and international meetings to promote sharing and offer keynotes and workshops for groups interested in transforming higher education through digital media learning.
  • Create poles of excellence and innovation at the regional and subregional level. We invite researchers and system leaders to consider how data science can dramatically improve teaching, research and impact.
  • Reinforce networks and partnerships that promote trans-disciplinary research. We participate in and help lead interdisciplinary thinking and systems research in fields linked to the learning sciences.

UNESCO Chair Projects

UNESCO Chair projects investigate interactive digital media learning and improve feedback to learners and the assessment of learning in the digital game and challenge-based learning. Projects are formed and honed during field trials, with the goal of demonstrating and going to scale with new solutions for better learning experiences, simpler methods of providing education to more people, lower costs of the human role in design and delivery, and better learning outcomes.

The activities of the UNESCO Chair are grouped into four areas: Investigations, Challenge Platform R&D, Trials and Scale. Investigations are conducted to better understand how Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, Network Analyses, and Learning Analytics inform the design of new challenge-based digital pedagogy (content as well as platform processes) is tested in extensive field Trials and leads to Scale via delivery of higher education learning and teaching.


  • EDUsummIT
    • Objective: to help organize and support an international meeting and forum for advancing the use of information and communication technologies in education worldwide.
  • UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Leaders of Australia
    • Objective: to convene a national forum for advancing the Australia National Commission’s aims and strategies.
  • Developing Multidisciplinary and Multicultural Competences through Gamification and Challenge-Based Collaborative Learning
    • Objective: to improve student learning and performance by better preparing them to work in multidisciplinary and multicultural teams; motivating students through the deployment of gamification and challenge-based learning.
  • Building Australian Technology Network Institutional Capacity for Text Analytics
    • Objective: 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
    • Objective: 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. Linked-In NEWS
  • Digital and Blended Services for Rural and Remote Students
    • Objective: 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
    • Objective: 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.


Potential co-authors and researchers are invited to be in touch to explore research and publication opportunities.


Gibson, D. C., Webb, M., & Ifenthaler, D. (2019). Measurement challenges of interactive educational assessment. In D. G. Sampson, J. M. Spector, D. Ifenthaler, P. Isaias, & S. Sergis (Eds.), Learning technologies for transforming teaching, learning and assessment at large scale (pp. 19–33). New York, NY: Springer.

Ifenthaler, D., & Gibson, D. C. (in press). Opportunities of analytics in challenge-based learning. In A. Tlili & M. Chang (Eds.), Data analytics approaches in educational games and gamification systems. Cham: Springer.

Ifenthaler, D., & Gibson, D. C. (Eds.). (in progress). Adoption of data analytics in higher education learning and teaching. Cham: Springer.

Ifenthaler, D., Gibson, D. C., & Zheng, L. (2019). Investigating attributes of engagement in digital learning environments. Paper presented at the AERA Anual Meeting, Toronto, ON, Canada, 05-04-2019.

Kerrigan, S., Feng, S., Vuthaluru, R., Ifenthaler, D., & Gibson, D. C. (2019). Network analytics of collaborative problem-solving. Paper presented at the CELDA Conference, Cagliari, Italy, 07-11-2019.

Vuthaluru, R., Feng, S., Kerrigan, S., Ifenthaler, D., & Gibson, D. C. (2019). Visualising learner behaviours with network graphs and sankey diagrams. Paper presented at the 10th International Science, Mathematics & Technology Education Conference, Reduit, Mauritius, 06-11-2019.


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

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

Gibson, D. C., Huband, S., Ifenthaler, D., & Parkin, E. (2018). Return on investment in higher education retention: Systematic focus on actionable information from data analytics. Paper presented at the ASCILITE Conference, Geelong, VIC, Australia, 25-11-2018.

Gibson, D. C., & Ifenthaler, D. (2018). Analysing performance in authentic digital scenarios. In T.-W. Chang, R. Huang, & Kinshuk (Eds.), Authentic learning through advances in technologies (pp. 17–27). New York, NY: Springer.

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. C., & Dobozy, E. (2018). Informing learning design through analytics: Applying network graph analysis. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 34(2), 117–132. doi:10.14742/ajet.376

Ifenthaler, D., Gibson, D. C., & Zheng, L. (2018). The dynamics of learning engagement in challenge-based online learning. Paper presented at the 18th IEEE International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies, Mumbai, India, 09-07-2018. 

Ifenthaler, D., Gibson, D. C., & Zheng, L. (2018). Attributes of engagement in challenge-based digital learning environments. Paper presented at the CELDA Conference, Budapest, Hungary, 21-10-2018.

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

Liu, L., Gibson, D. C., & Ifenthaler, D. (2018). A model of dynamic instructional design and dynamic assessment: applied in teacher education online courses. Paper presented at the SITE Conference, Washington, DC, USA, 26-03-2018.

Parkin, E., Huband, S., Gibson, D. C., & Ifenthaler, D. (2018). Analysing university student academic performance at the unit level. Paper presented at the CELDA Conference, Budapest, Hungary, 21-10-2018.


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.

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.