TEL Program of Research

Technology-Enabled Learning Research Ethics

An umbrella ethics application, written and developed by Learning Futures, has received approval from the university’s human ethics research committee to run until June 2023.

Learning Futures would like to collaborate with you to conduct research on all aspects of technology-enhanced learning at the university. Potential topics include:

  • The use of innovative tools such as drones and robots
  • Simulation, augmented reality and virtual reality
  • The use of the flipped approach to teaching and learning
  • Learning theory
  • Student learning behaviours and practices
  • The role of technology in the development of epistemic fluency
  • Adaptive learning
  • X-based learning (problem-based, inquiry-based and team-based learning)
  • Learning spaces

The list is not exhaustive but indicates the depth and breadth of the exciting research opportunities that are available.

What next?

If you are interested, please contact Dr Glenn Mason Chief Investigator of HREC project H13152 ( If the project is considered to be suitable, the research design will be drawn up including relevant consent forms. This will be submitted to the ethics committee for consideration as a sub-project under the umbrella ethics approval.

You will be contacted when the application has been approved. Once approved, you will then be free to conduct your research.


Step 1: Outline your Research Proposal
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Outline your Research Proposal
Each sub-project requires the approval of the deputy dean of the relevant school. This is to ensure that research in the school is coordinated and to minimise the duplication of research and that students are not being over-burdened with participation in research projects. The Learning Futures team can help research teams put together initial research proposals for deputy dean approval in addition to assisting in the development of proposals that are submitted for ethics approval. In the first instance, contact Dr Glenn Mason ( at Learning Futures and Chief Investigator of HREC project H13152.
Step 2: Proposal Consideration
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Proposal Consideration
One of the major benefits of the umbrella ethics application for technology-enhanced learning is that proposed research projects can be considered as sub-projects associated with the umbrella ethics approval. This can significantly reduce the time and effort in the ethics process. A typical sub-project will require the following elements.
  • Outline of the research proposal
  • Research questions
  • Methodology/theoretical perspective
  • Methods
  • Data sources (including proposed location and time of focus groups or interviews)
  • Expected findings
  • Limitations
  • Consent forms and participant information sheets
The proposal can be developed in partnership with Learning Futures. Contact Dr Glenn Mason ( at Learning Futures and Chief Investigator of HREC project H13152 to discuss your proposal in greater depth.
Step 3: Ethics Approval
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Ethics Approval
After your proposal has been developed and received approval from your deputy dean, it can be submitted as a sub-project under the umbrella ethics application. The human ethics committee will consider the sub-project and if clarification is required this will be communicated to Learning Futures. Learning Futures will be in touch to discuss any required clarification or change to the sub-project. When it has been approved by the human ethics committee at the university, Learning Futures will be in touch to discuss the next steps to put your research ideas into practice.


Current research projects

Below is a list of current research projects under the TEL Ethics Umbrella.

Click on the project titles to learn more!

School of Business
Engaging and internationalising student learning experiences in cross cultural competencies through Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) (#H14586)
This project will expose the students to different ways of work and to face reality of business in different contexts and challenges that have intensified during the pandemic and will more than likely have consequences in a post-pandemic business environment.

As borders remain closed with no opportunity for more traditional approaches including international placements, business students in this project from both partner institutions will have had the opportunity to experience an international dimension in a global context, acquire and strengthen intercultural competencies.

This project will expand on existing pedagogy in this unit leveraging off COIL increasing intercultural awareness and the internationalisation of learning in higher education.  The project will enhance the bid by the School of Business towards the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) accreditation, an international business school accreditation.
School of Education
A dialogic approach to technology-enhanced learning in higher education (#H14241)
The overarching aim of the project is to explore the educational benefits/affordances of a multimodal technology-enhanced learning environment (TEL) to dialogic learning. The research is driven by the following questions:
  • How does a dialogic learning design facilitate educationally productive learning interactions in online settings?
  • In particular, what are the affordances and constraints of the developed dialogic TEL environment in encouraging collective, creative inquiry and establishing shared dialogic space for teaching and learning?
  • How do these dialogic practices enhance students’ learning experiences (engagement, agency, deep learning) and educational outcomes?
School of Engineering, Design and Built Environment
Lab-in-a-box: Illustrating electronic concepts in the electrical engineering curriculum
One of the outcomes of the Virginia Tech Lab in box project was the publication of new laboratory manuals to reflect the push to a more “hands-on” approach to learning. The delivery of electronics practical classes entirely changed in 2020 due to the response to the COVID pandemic. The contribution of this project to existing research takes a flipped and blended approach in a project-based environment, in contrast to the usual practice where students perform exercises taking from a manual. In this case, students will be designing and building their own circuits and instruments using knowledge gained from the classes and the guidance from tutors and peers. Some of the key questions we will be addressing in this project include:
  • Does lab-in-a-box increase perceived confidence in independent laboratory work and if so how?
  • What is the pattern of usage of the associated materials for lab-in-a-box?
  • Is there a correlation between perceived confidence, pattern of usage and overall grades (a measure of understanding of the concepts and theory of the subject)?
School of Health Sciences
Supporting students' development of academic literacy skills through a self-directed flipped learning approach to teaching argument with evidence (#H13766)
This project will explore how self-directed learning can be used to teach argument with evidence. In one unit, the focus will be on how to read and use evidence; and in the other, the focus will be on developing an argument that is grounded in evidence.

Students will learn key concepts before class in a flipped learning approach using online modules in the LMS, and then apply what they have learnt in class activities. After the class activities, they will have the opportunity to revise using the modules they have seen or use some ‘extension’ online modules for further learning. Use of the online modules after the in-class activities is considered self-directed learning and an indicator of students acting on their ‘inner feedback’.

The following are the key guiding research questions for this sub-project:
  1. Does the learning design improve student capacity to argue with evidence?
  2. Does the learning design improve student capacity for ‘internal feedback’ and self-directed learning?
  3. Is the learning design associated with a decrease in behaviours indicative of academic misconduct (whether inadvertent or intentional)?
  4. What is the students’ perception of their experience of a self-directed flipped classroom model?
Exploring the implementation of a HyFlex learning environment on speech pathology students’ learning experiences and outcomes (#H14445)
This study will explore the design, implementation and evaluation of HyFlex within the undergraduate speech pathology program to determine factors that may enhance potential positive outcomes of flexible learning environments and manage competency and accreditation requirements.

The study aligns with TEQSA (2019) guidance regarding the importance of identifying and managing risks to ensure quality TEL learning and teaching experiences for students, specifically building provider capabilities, addressing students’ learner support needs, and developing an understanding of impediments and success factors in the TEL environment.

Findings from this study will inform curriculum approaches within the B. Speech Pathology program and will be relevant to all Health Science disciplines, contributing to innovative and sustainable curriculum design.
Assessing the health students' digital competencies in working inclusively with vulnerable, disadvantaged and marginalised people: a Delphi study (#H14670)
To improve health outcomes for marginalised groups, national agreement and implementation of core, transferable skills that facilitate effective collaboration with these individuals, families and communities, are critical. However, current conventional medical, nursing, and allied health curricula may not fully address the contemporaneous needs of vulnerable and marginalised clients, despite the myriad of competency frameworks developed by single professions in silo rather than focus on shared competencies.

More recently, the Australian Medical Council has sought public consultation on its proposed digital health capability framework ,despite an existing framework having already been proposed by the nursing fraternity for its profession.

A clearly defined set of transferable, graduate competencies for emerging health professionals are needed to effectively prepare the emerging health workforce to employ, adapt, plan, design and deliver essential services to support people who are most in need of appropriate care.

The knowledge domains to be explored in this project are: (i) digital capabilities, (ii) inclusive approach to providing care, (iii) individual health professional’s (medicine, nursing, allied health) minimum competency standards and/or Entrustable Professional Activity, and (iv) value-based health care.
School of Humanities and Communication Arts
Evaluating HyFlex at Western Sydney University 2021: Considerations for Curriculum and Pedagogy (#H14434)
This study will explore what is ultimately a gap in current academic research that evaluates HyFlex (HF) delivery in undergraduate higher education. Missing from scholarship is a thorough analysis of
  • the learning requirements of the specific modes of delivery;
  • an analysis of students’ own understanding of the learning requirements of the modes of delivery; and
  • an analysis of students’ capability to reflect on their own learner characteristics and choose a mode of delivery to suit.
This exploration of students’ awareness of their own learner characteristics and the suitability of HF beyond catering to their changing personal needs, is part of a broader context of research that explores students’ capacity to self-regulate their learning in flipped course delivery. It is the researchers’ hypotheses that HF, like flipped learning, ultimately calls for a more nuanced, realistic and accurate assessment of students own learning capacity. In other words, HF demands more of the student, despite its grand intentions regarding student-centred design.
School of Social Science
Bringing the field online: investigating student learning experiences of an online mixed reality (AR/VR) `field trip' (#H13945)
The current sub-project seeks to engage students who have taken part in the Global City Processes ‘online field trip’ in 2020. The research will investigate the impact of mixed reality (VR/AR) instruction and the shift from instruction in the field to online, embedded in a learning management system, on student learning. This project engages with two extensions of ‘the field’ afforded through technological meditation:
  1. Mediation via immersive, mixed-reality technologies
  2. Mediation via online learning.
It will provide important insights into the use of VR and AR in field-based learning and teaching, which has central importance for undergraduate geography curricula, and wider relevance for the use of immersive technologies in education. This research will also provide important insights into the efficacy of technology enabled learning, both in the short term emergency response to the health crisis, and in the long-term strategic direction of learning and teaching at WSU and in the tertiary education more generally.
An investigation of teaching practice and the student learning experience with authentic practitioner-based online learning materials (#AM8929)
The unit ‘Youth Justice and Practice’ develops an understanding of the complexity of youth justice by addressing the historical, political, cultural and socio-economic factors associated with youth crime; constructions of youth; and, critically assessing governmental and community strategies for regulating and preventing youth crime.

One of the features of the unit is the 'video portal’ that was developed in collaboration with the digital futures team and Dr Ana Rodas (SSaP). The central idea of the video portal was to replace lectures with a series of interviews with practitioners working with young people in the youth justice system of New South Wales.

The ‘video portal’ is a visual representation of the complex, interconnected nature of the issues, organisations and systems that make up the field of youth justice. To date, the ‘video portal’ has not been rigorously evaluated and the main objective of this research program is to evaluate the impact of the ‘video portal’ on the student learning experience and explore its use by teaching staff to meet the learning objectives of the unit. This research aims to address the following questions:
  1. What was the nature of student and staff engagement with the YJP as a teaching and learning tool?
  2. How did engagement with the YJP impact on student and staff identities?
  3. How did engagement with the YJP impact on student learning practices such as self-regulated learning?