Future of learning goes under the microscope

13 Jul 2011

Fancy taking a peek inside the classroom of the future?

Australia’s first Science of Learning Symposium, to be hosted by the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) next week, will shine a spotlight on how the latest advances in neuroscience can inform educational practice.

The two-day event will feature keynote addresses delivered by local and international experts, and the latest research in areas such as visual processing, auditory attention and cross-modal plasticity.

It will be held at QBI, based at The University of Queensland’s St Lucia campus, on July 20 and 21, 2011.

Advances in technologies such as brain imaging have given neuroscientists a new understanding of brain function that has the potential to transform education in the same way biological understanding has transformed medicine, says QBI Director Professor Perry Bartlett.

“These new insights into how the brain learns provides the basis for developing new approaches and tools which could revolutionise the delivery of learning over the next decade,” he explains.

“It has the potential to put Australia at the very forefront of innovation and to realise the education revolution.”

The event marks the entry into Australia of what is known internationally as ‘Science of Learning’, a research initiative which aims to foster collaborations between educators and neuroscientists.

“It’s about using the needs of classroom teachers to drive neuroscience research, and designing effective and practical learning techniques and tools based on neuroscientists’ growing understanding of what happens in the brain when learning takes place,” Professor Bartlett says.

The US has already established a long-term Science of Learning program with a US$500 million budget over 10 years.

Many of the speakers at the July event will have flown in from the US to attend.

These include Professor Ennio Mingolla of the Center of Excellence for Learning in Education, Science and Technology, Professor Kenneth Koedinger from the Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center, and Professor Gary Cottrell from the Temporal Dynamics of Learning Center.

QBI’s Science of Learning Centre, launched last year, is one of the first steps towards building similar capabilities locally – but there remains an urgent need for Australia to increase its investment in this area.

“With the infrastructure in place to support collaborations between educators and neuroscientists, and increased investment in understanding the fundamental biology and physiology of the brain, we can look forward to an exciting time in learning discoveries,” says Professor Bartlett.

“This in turn leads to the very attractive prospect that the next generation of Australians will have the learning capacity to lead the world in discovery and innovation details.”



The Science of Learning Meeting (20 July) and Symposium on Attention and Learning (21 July) will be held at the Queensland Brain Institute, The University of Queensland. For more information visit www.qbi.uq.edu.au/solc.


Denise Cullen
Executive Communications Officer
Tel: 07 3346 6434
Email: d.cullen2@uq.edu.au


The Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) was established as a research institute of The University of Queensland in 2003. The Institute is now operating out of a $63 million state-of-the-art facility which houses 33 Principal Investigators with strong international reputations. QBI is one of the largest neuroscience institutes in the world dedicated to understanding the mechanisms underlying brain function.