At the nexus of learning and innovation


This project, from the newly established Centre for Research on Learning and Innovation (est. January 2016), builds on partnerships of researchers from the learning sciences, IT, health and medical sciences and other disciplines. The purpose of the project is to accelerate the development of the Centre’s joint capacity for doing world-class multidisciplinary research on a phenomenon that crosses learning and innovation: knowledge co-creation. The long-term objective is to achieve the scope and scale needed to position CRLI among the best centres of research globally and enable us to generate and bring into practice outstanding multidisciplinary research that shapes the preparation of people for life and work in a knowledge-generating society.

Our approach couples expansion of research leadership capacities and international partnerships with testing of innovative and ambitious approaches for feeding CRLI research into practice and achieving impact via knowledge co-creation. We will:

  1. strengthen new collaborations within the Centre through a set of 'seed' research studies co-led by MCRs and senior staff;
  2. expand and strengthen international links with major partners through hosting a series of capacity building 'data-shops'; and
  3. design and trial an innovative e-platform for research dissemination (kCoLab).

This will provide a set of prima facie cases demonstrating CRLI's joint capacities, and create partnerships and a technological platform for future ambitious projects.

Area of research, issues, questions, significance

Knowledge co-creation is at the core of multidisciplinary collaborative research, complex inter-professional problem-solving, community engagement, industry partnerships, joint innovation and active citizenship (Bereiter, 2002; Markauskaite & Goodyear, 2016). The success of the National agenda boosting Australian innovation, and of the University’s strategic aims of building excellence in engaged multidisciplinary research, relies on knowledge co-creation. But little is known about how people learn to co-create knowledge; how team members with different types of expertise learn to fuse their capacities together; what kinds of organisational forms and dynamics emerge; and consequently, how to facilitate this process and help people contribute to teams that co-create knowledge successfully. Productive innovation and research that improves lives demands a much sharper understanding of how people make sense of research knowledge, how they produce practical knowledge, and how to prepare students for this kind of co-creative knowledge work. 

The main research aim of this project is to understand 1) how people learn to co-create knowledge, 2) how to facilitate this learning process effectively, and 3) how to build capacities to translate this understanding into practical innovations and improvements within education, professional development, and research-industry-community partnerships. It focuses on knowledge work in the most promising knowledge co-creation spaces, such as boundaries between research and its applications in practice and emerging online knowledge-generating communities.

2. Approach

The project builds on solid foundations laid by CRLI researchers: epistemic fluency (Markauskaite, Goodyear), implementation science (Shaw), collaborative learning (Reimann), dialogic inquiry (Simpson), knowledge visualisation (Kay, Reimann, Yacef), human-centered technology (Kay), learning analytics and educational data mining (Pardo, Yacef, Koprinska), activity-centered design (Goodyear), etc.

The project will develop new partnerships and capacities for joint research through concrete ‘hands on’ methodological and empirical work on a set of specific ‘seed’ studies in five problem-focussed thematic areas (listed below). A sixth overarching theme will carry out R&D work, developing and trialling new models for research knowledge dissemination via knowledge co-creation. In Phase 1, the studies will focus on knowledge co-creation in authentic ‘boundary’ spaces between (i) the university’s research on education and educational technology and (ii) partners/users in industry, community, school and higher education. They will develop integrated research methods and cover 6 themes (co-leaders are in italic):

  1. Knowledge co-creation in health and medical technology innovations: design of dashboards for medical teams, symbolic technologies in expert knowledge work (Shaw, Kay, Markauskaite, Calvo, Goodyear)
  2. Boundary crossing between learning technology research and the educational technology industry: faster transfer of leading research into agile, ‘lean’ design and development (Pardo, Reimann, Jacobson, Kay)
  3. Knowledge co-creation in school-university partnerships: knowledge practices in co-design of education innovations; bridging research and teachers’ practical knowledge (Sutherland, Bobis, Way, Curwood)
  4. Knowledge practices in learning analytics: understanding teachers’ and students’ data-informed decision-making; linking LA to user knowledge practices (Bartimote, Pardo, Poronnik, Yacef, Koprinska)
  5. Learning for the workplace through innovation and knowledge co-creation: dialogical inquiry; learning by creating knowledge tools for professional practice (Simpson, Goodyear, Markauskaite, Poronnik)
  6. Research dissemination via knowledge co-creation (kCoLab): technology-mediated knowledge co-creation, R&D of new interfaces for proactive user engagement (Reimann, Yacef, Koprinska, Curwood)

Each theme will be co-led by 1–2 MCR and 1–2 senior staff, and will have a ‘top-up’ scholarship for a talented HDR student. Each team will: 1) gather a set of relevant data (months 1–6); 2) organise a 3–5 day open ‘data-shop’, co-presented with a leading international scholar; 3) finish this work with a joint paper (months 7–12). The data, instruments, products, etc. will be made available via kCoLab, which will be designed using knowledge sharing methods that enable active peer and community engagement.

3. Outcomes in the initial 12 month period (Phase 1)

  • Developed and applied new integrated methods, strengthened collaborations, MCR leadership capacities and research productivity: material for 6+ co-authored journal articles.
  • Expanded international partnerships and, simultaneously, strengthened methodological capabilities: 6 ‘data-shops’ co-presented with key international collaborators from leading centres.
  • Developed and tested infrastructure for future CRLI research: a platform for sharing research data and methodological resources, and an experimental knowledge co-creation eLab (kCoLab).

4. Expansion for an additional 24 month period and outcomes (Phase 2)

Our strategy is to achieve scale and scope to investigate knowledge co-creation practices in a range of critical ‘problem spaces’, and attain capacity to combine relevant multidisciplinary perspectives.

In Phase 2, the scope will expand in 3 main directions: 1) from face-to-face to open online knowledge co-creation spaces (e.g. citizen science, open innovation, digital democracy) and online professional communities (e.g. health, IT/programming, data science, teaching); 2) from an individual/group level to an institutional level and infrastructures; 3) from studying naturally occurring knowledge co-creation processes to designing and testing new facilitation strategies.

5. Building of research excellence

The university has some unique strengths that take us beyond traditional definitions of learning as knowledge ‘acquisition’, to study knowledge-generating work and learning in complex new spaces: increasingly visible as crucial sites of learning (incl. interdisciplinary work settings, university-community-industry boundaries, technology-rich environments). Our interlinked work on theoretically innovative and practically significant studies and capacity building for joint research will allow us to strengthen this field further.


Bereiter, C. (2002). Education and mind in the knowledge age. Mahwah, NJ: LEA.

Markauskaite, L., & Goodyear, P. (2016). Epistemic fluency and professional education: innovation, knowledgeable action and actionable knowledge. Dordrecht: Springer.