Researchers eye digital education futures


CDU School of Education’s Dr Jon Mason

CDU School of Education’s Dr Jon Mason

Two Charles Darwin University researchers are contributing to a China-based international research project into the future of education using digital technologies.

The Advanced Innovation Center for Future Education (AICFE), based at Beijing Normal University (BNU) in China, has appointed Associate Professor Greg Shaw and Dr Jon Mason, from CDU’s School of Education, as consultants to the project that is expected to have implications globally for education. They are the only Australian university scholars participating in the research. 

Dr Mason, who leads digital education futures research at CDU, said the AICFE was set up in China to lead the development of smart education platforms and data-driven teaching methodologies out to the year 2030.

“The group is looking at various plausible scenarios [for education globally] through a technology lens,” Dr Mason said.  

“We’re interested in artificial intelligence, smart learning environments and what the next generation of schools will look like.”

Late in 2016 Dr Shaw and Dr Mason received US$20,000 funding through the AICFE after it accepted a research proposal focused on conceiving and preparing for digital education futures, framed as a comparative study involving teachers from the Northern Territory and Urumqi in Xinjiang, Western China.

“Two key characteristics are that CDU and Urumqi Normal University routinely use digital technology in their teaching and they are both urban universities that service remote populations,” Dr Mason said.

In addition to China and Australia, the AICFE project involves researchers from the UK, Canada, USA and several other nations.

With their appointment as consultants until May 2019, Dr Shaw and Dr Mason will conduct further research and contribute to an inaugural “Blue Paper” of AICFE research findings, which is due for publication later this year.

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