Information Technology for Future Education Research Cluster

The IT for Future Education (ITFE) Research Cluster is a leader in using technology to support education. Our aim is to promote computing education as a core literacy, educating students and professionals on digital technologies.

Major research areas

Our research helps to inform the higher education sector on the best use of technology in computing education. We support education excellence by developing new skills and techniques such as classroom activities and the use of technologies. Our evidence-based approach helps to produce good practice outcomes that create a positive influence on the global IT higher education community.

Unlocking the code to digital literacy

    Despite the widespread use of the term digital literacy, there is no common understanding of what is meant by it or what skills it entails. ITFE explores the concept of digital literacy to ensure a shared understanding is provided for academics, alumni and industry.

    A digital literacy benchmark for students entering and graduating from Australian higher education institutions has been developed, bridging the gap between school skills (as defined by the Australian National Curriculum), and workplace skills (as demanded by employers).

    This research provides understanding and insight for disciplines to interpret digital literacy graduate learning outcomes in their context and improve graduate employability.

    Using analytics to improve student engagement

    Student engagement, retention and progression remain key issues in higher education. ITFE uses learning analytics, the collection of data from various points in a student’s learning journey, to understand and identify issues with their participation in their IT studies.

    Models of student engagement with their learning, which are informed by analytics, can identify effective approaches to improving student engagement, retention and progression, as well as inform process to identify students at risk, particularly within large cohorts.

    This research provides the basis of curriculum-based approaches towards using learning analytics to inform best practice in IT higher education.

    Supporting graduate employability in IT

    A key driver for higher education is effectively preparing graduates for the world of work. ITFE explores the nature of graduate employability and looks into the needs of all stakeholders – students, employers and university staff – to inform the design of learning experiences.

    By understanding the needs of all stakeholders, this research informs curriculum best practice for students and impacts both locally and globally to inform successful approaches towards graduate employability.

Major research projects

  • Unlocking the code to digital literacy: ensuring digital literacy capabilities for the 21st century, OLT Fellowship.
  • A collaboration with Deakin’s School of Education and Grovedale College, a public high school in the Geelong region, to improve student engagement with the Year 9 digital technologies curriculum.
  • Graduate employability: Deakin Graduate Employment Division and National OLT project on developing employability, Australian Computing Education Network.

Current projects

  • Contributing to the local computing education community through hosting the Melbourne Computing Conventicle.
  • Collaborating with the Centre for Pattern Recognition and Data Analytics (PRaDA) to understand and apply a learning analytics model to support student engagement and retention.
  • Collaborating with industry leader BrightSpace and FutureLearn to implement initiatives in digital education.

Past projects

  • Collaborated with Deakin’s Faculty of Health to improve web-based education resources for bipolar patients and carers.
  • Collaborated with Deakin’s Faculty of Education to design, develop and implement an electronic, game-based app, for primacy school aged children.
  • Investigated blended learning for classes in IT higher education. The experience of both students and staff documented the importance of team teaching to support and scaffold classroom experience.

Research funding

  • 2018 Philanthropic funding from the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Fund: $50,000
  • 2016 National Teaching Fellowship from the Australian Government, Office for Learning and Teaching: $90,000

Our staff


Professor John YearwoodDecision science and data science
Associate Professor Jo Coldwell-NeilsonGender in IT, digital literacy, work-integrated learning


Dr Elicia LanhamEducational technologies and blended learning
Dr Nick PattersonCyber security education, micro-credentialing and digital learning technologies
Michelle CyganowskiStatistics
Sophie MckenzieGame-based approaches to teaching and learning
Jason WellsLearning analytics

Contact us

Professor John Yearwood
+61 3 9246 8727
Email Prof Yearwood

Associate Professor Jo Coldwell-Neilson 
+61 3 5227 1417
Email A/Prof Coldwell-Neilson