Digital Futures to forge ahead with Collaborative Research Network

Professor Graham Baker, Associate Professor Pat Buckley, Dr Chris Johnson and Judy Halter talk about the Digital Futures CRN

USQ’s $5.1million Digital Future’s Collaborative Research Network (CRN) federal funding will bring more than just a research project to USQ.

It will allow USQ to boost the level of research capability, build the support structures needed for research, build upon our technology base and provide important professional development to research staff at the University.

USQ will lead the research with collaboration from The Australian National University (ANU) and University of South Australia (UniSA).

Dr Chris Johnson, College Associate Dean (Education) at ANU will be working with USQ staff on the CRN projects and believes the arrangement will be beneficial to USQ.

‘We will be undertaking five research projects that will help us develop the future of education and wider community issues using digital technologies.’ Dr Johnson said.

‘We will look to develop the digital areas, build additional support structures and allow leading research projects to take place.’

‘Each university in the collaboration will bring their own expertise and with USQ being the main owner, the research profile in the field will definitely be enhanced.’

‘The Digital Futures (CRN) will have five separate research projects - we had 14 project proposals and five were approved.’

‘To allow us to successfully complete these projects, USQ will have eight PhD students and five postdoctoral fellows.’

The research will investigate how digital futures can be used in higher education in the future, enhancing interactive models.

One key issue that will be researched is virtual connectivity and how it changes or enhances connections in rural and remote Australian communities.

The collaboration between USQ, ANU and UniSA will provide a robust governance structure and wide range of research expertise.

‘The Project Board and Management Committee comprise members from each university and therefore, each university will provide researchers and mentors,’ Dr Johnson said.

‘The PhD candidates will have joint supervision and collaborative mentoring will be a feature of these projects.’

‘In time, the research will be able to be undertaken independently as USQ’s research capability and capacity grows.’

The five research projects that have been approved are:

  • Project 1 - Developing an evaluation framework for mobile learning
  • Project 2 - Determining the social and policy challenges of a digital future: a cross-sectional analysis of rural and regional Australia
  • Project 3 - Investigating the impact of a web-based, ‘discussion-support’, agricultural-climate information system on Australian farmers’ operational decision making.
  • Project 4 - RAL-8-ed: an overview program for remote access laboratories
  • Project 5 - Use of technology in higher education: an assessment from socio-economic perspectives

More information can be found at

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