At the nexus of learning and innovation

Sydney research seminars: CRLI researchers encouraging undergrads to think big

Lina Markauskaite and Minkang Kim are leading two of four new 'Sydney Research Seminars' here at the University of Sydney. These interdisciplinary units of study are designed to challenge third year students an Dalyell Scholars to think like researchers and ask big questions.

“Normally when we teach, we want students to come up with the answers... With these units, we actually want them to come up with the questions. And because the classes will be interdisciplinary, they’ll be encouraged to explore their questions beyond their own field of expertise, and apply research methodology to refine their questions. So, the emphasis is not on an outcome (ie getting an answer) but rather on the journey of discovery through collaborative and interdisciplinary research.” -  Associate Professor Peter McCallum (Academic Director, Education Policy and Quality)


CRLI members Lina Markauskaite (centre co-director) and Minkang Kim (convenor, Neuroscience and Education Special Interest Group) have had their proposals accepted for this new innovative program. Details for their respective seminars are presented below:

Reimagining the future of learning innovation

Course code: SRSU3100  Coordinator: Associate Professor Lina Markauskaite

Session: Semester 2   Credit points: 6

This unit provides students with a unique opportunity to gain research experience and deep insight into the future of learning. Students will conduct research on emerging trends in this area together with experts from a wide range of disciplines. Through a series of online discussions and face-to-face seminars, students will expand their understanding of how innovations from diverse disciplinary fields – such as Information Technology, Psychology, Neuroscience, Architecture, Anthropology, and Economics – contribute to new ways of learning across formal and informal educational settings as well as organisational contexts. The work produced will contribute to the Centre for Research on Learning and Innovation's report on recent innovations and opportunities for improving teaching and learning titled 'Re-imagining the future of learning'.

'Reimagining the future'

Coordinator for the unit of study, Associate Professor Lina Markauskaite, says her Sydney Research Seminar invites students to reimagine the future of learning, and to contribute to gathering evidence about emerging trends and identifying opportunities for educational innovation. Students’ work will directly feed into the production of a publication known as the horizon scanning report. Up until now, creating such horizon reports has been reserved for the experts; the Sydney Research Seminar is opening this now to students.

“Some annual horizon reports are regarded as something of a bible in the world of education,” explains Associate Professor Markauskaite. “They are used by EdTech industry, investors, policy makers, and universities, of course. We’ll be challenging students to predict the 3–5 year future, with the support of experts across disciplines to guide and broaden their thinking. Their work will contribute to the Centre for Research on Learning and Innovation’s next horizon report. It’s quite a unique approach.”


The Social Brain: Learning and Wellbeing

Course code: SRSSU3101  Coordinator: Dr Minkang Kim

Session: Intensive July, 24 contact hours  Credit points: 6 

This unit, comprising seminars and practical workshops, provides students with a unique opportunity to bridge the disciplinary divides between social science and medical science, by collaboratively exploring how social and neurobiological factors dynamically interweave in processes of learning and wellbeing. Participants will work with real examples of research projects and papers published in academic journals, and critically engage with the literature to help guide their research project design. A hands-on workshop will give students practical engagement with the electroencephalogram (EEG), eye-tracking and other forms of brain imaging.

'Engaging with cross-disciplinary learning and research'

Coordinator for the Sydney Research Seminar, Dr Minkang Kim, says this new unit of study is the collaborative outcome of an earlier Strategic Education Grant, proposed by staff from the School of Education, School of Medical Sciences and the Brain and Mind Centre, all of whom have a background in, or related to, neuroscience.

This elective Winter School course is hands-on and intensive, with keynote lectures, problem-based seminars, and hands-on research data collection that span the normal disciplinary divides of education studies and medical studies.

“Students will work with real examples of research projects to help shape their own research design. And the hands-on workshop will allow students to engage with the EEG and other forms of brain imaging,” explains Dr Kim. “It should be a very positive and challenging experience for both students and staff.”

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