Study As
Full Time

Principal Supervisor
Professor Maarten De Laat

Main Campus
City West

Applications Close
18 Dec 2022

Study Level

Applications Open To
Domestic Candidate

Tuition Fees:
All domestic students are eligible for a fee waiver. International students who receive a stipend are eligible for a fee waiver. Find out more about fees and conditions.

Project Stipend:
$28,854 p.a. available to domestic applicants only

About this project

Advance your career in an emerging field

Are you interested in a career in learning analytics (LA) and concerned about the ethical implications connected to privacy? The University of South Australia – Australia’s University of Enterprise – is offering a unique project-based PhD across UniSA STEM and UniSA Education. 

Digital transformation is rapidly changing how we communicate, learn and work. A clear impact of novel technologies is the recent transition from traditional face-to-face to online and blended learning across all education levels, which was accelerated by the recent COVID-19 pandemic. The unprecedented data collected about learners and their learning, further boosted the adoption of learning analytics. As an emerging field of research and practice, learning analytics utilise various data science and machine learning methods to collect, analyse, and report learner data for purposes of understanding and optimising their learning and the environments in which learning occurs. Given the recent proliferation of AI in education, AI and machine learning approaches have become instrumental for the further development of learning analytics. However, the potential benefits of learning analytics and AI for education often come with a discussion of ethical implications and the impact on privacy and well-beingness. Thus, building privacy-enhanced trusted learning analytics, established in a responsible and trustworthy vision of AI, becomes a priority for further advancements of educational research, practice and use of data infrastructures. In partnership with CSIROs Data61 and Practera, this project aims to develop tools and techniques for automated data privacy management to support educators and researchers in using learner data in innovative ways, such as providing personalised learning or enabling a computed curriculum, while maintaining learners privacy.

Upon completion of this project, you will be able to design and lead your own research projects and collaborate with interdisciplinary research colleagues and industry partners. You will have the ability to make theoretical contributions and form practical frameworks for translating your findings into meaningful practice. Additionally, you will have developed strong research integrity and ethical values and have the skills to effectively disseminate the findings of their future studies to a wide range of audiences. As a member of the Centre for Change and Complexity in Learning (C3L) and through your collaboration with industry partners, you will have highly desirable networking and skill development opportunities to advance your career in an emerging field. 

What you’ll do

In this project-based PhD, you will address a range of questions aimed at developing tools and techniques for automated data privacy management to support educators and researchers in using learner data in innovative ways, such as providing personalised learning or enabling a computed curriculum, while maintaining learners privacy. You will carry out a series of case studies across a range of types of data in the educational contexts, conducting privacy-preserving solutions and analysing data with a focus on optimal student learning. You will collaborate with a range of academics who will be involved in case studies to support the design of the experimental conditions that will be investigated. Publication in top journals and dissemination of your findings in key scholarly conferences and events will be encouraged. There will also be opportunities to conduct workshops or seminars for the educational industry to help support the adoption of privacy-enhanced trusted learning analytics.

Where you’ll be based

You will be based at the Centre for Change and Complexity in Learning (C3L) within UniSA Education, specifically the Data for AI infrastructure research stream, in collaboration with Practera. C3L focuses on the complex relationship between human and artificial cognition, how it changes society, knowledge processes, and teaching and learning. The C3L uses complexity science methodologies, promotes the uptake of applied research, and engages with the community, government agencies (healthcare, education, defence, cultural) and industry to research the lifespan of learning and the role of UniSA in serving all stages of knowledge and learning processes. Practera is a world-leading experiential learning platform and services provider and primary target end-user of the project outcomes. In the collaboration, Practera will provide the necessary supervision, access to their student data with help of data cleaning and labelling data, and access to the related cloud service platforms, such as AWS

Supervisory Team

Financial Support

This project is funded for reasonable research expenses. Additionally, a living allowance scholarship of $28,854 per annum is available to Australian and New Zealand citizens, and permanent residents of Australia, including permanent humanitarian visa holders. Australian Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander applicants will be eligible to receive an increased stipend rate of $45,076 per annum. A fee-offset or waiver for the standard term of the program is also included. For full terms and benefits of the scholarship please refer to our scholarship information. International applicants are not invited to apply at this time.

Eligibility and Selection 

This project is open to application from domestic applicants only. Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria for entrance into a PhD. All applications that meet the eligibility and selection criteria will be considered for this project. A merit selection process will be used to determine the successful candidate. The successful applicant is expected to study full-time, and to be based at our City West Campus in the heart of Adelaide.

Essential Dates

Applicants are expected to start in a timely fashion upon receipt of an offer. Extended deferral periods are not available. Applications close on, Sunday 18 December 2022.

How to apply:

Applications must be lodged online, please note UniSA does not accept applications via email.

For further support see our step-by-step guide on how to apply , or contact the Graduate Research team on +61 8 8302 5880, option 1 or email us at You will receive a response within one working day.

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