Professor Katrina Falkner
Executive Dean, Faculty of SET
Sciences, Engineering and Technology Faculty Office
Faculty of Sciences, Engineering and Technology
Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.
Professor Falkner is Executive Dean of the Faculty of Sciences, Engineering and Technology at the University of Adelaide, having served formerly as Executive Dean for the Faculty of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences and Head of School of the School of Computer Science. Professor Falkner leads the Computer Science Education Research Group (CSER), and formerly the Modelling & Analysis Program within the Centre for Distributed and Intelligent Technologies (CDIT) (2011-2021). Professor Falkner has extensive experience in industry consultation, working with DST Group, NICTA, Google US, Google Australia & New Zealand, the Department of Education and Training, and Telstra Foundation, crossing both the areas of Computer Science Education and Distributed Defence Systems. Professor Falkner has attracted over $26 million in government and industry funding to support her research and community work.
Addressing inequities in education and access to technology underpins Professor Falkner’s work. Professor Falkner leads the development of the CSER MOOCs - open online courses for Australian teachers to help prepare them for the Digital Technologies Curriculum, and leads the national CSER Digital Technologies Education Program, designed to support Australian teachers in teaching Computer Science, with an emphasis on supporting young women, low-SES and Indigenous populations. This program, funded by a $7.2 million contract through the Commonwealth Department of Education and Training, provides critical support to Australian teachers as they embrace the teaching of Computer Science as a new area, assisting all young Australians to see themselves as Computer Scientists. This approach has now been expanded as part of the Mathematics Massive Open Online Courses and Mathematics Hub project, in collaboration with Education Services Australia.
Professor Falkner contributes to a number of key ICT groups, including the Australian Council of ICT Deans (ACDICT), the ACDICT Learning and Teaching Academy Executive (2011-2012), the Inaugural Australian Computer Society Education Board (2015-2017), the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) Digital Technologies Stakeholder Board (2014-present), President of the Australian Council of Deans of ICT (2018-2020), and Chair of the ACM Special Interest Group in Computer Science Education (Australasia) (2016-2018).
Professor Falkner has received numerous awards for her efforts in Computer Science leadership and education, including 2015 EdTechSA Leader of the Year, 2015 EdTechSA/ International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) ‘Making IT Happen’ Award, an Australian Computing Society (ACS) Gold Award as an ICT Higher Education Educator of the Year (2015), the Australian Council for Computers in Education (ACCE) and ACS National Leader of the Year Award (2016), the CORE John Hughes Distinguished Service Award (2017) and was named in The Australian's 2021 list of Australia's top 100 Innovators.
- My Research
- Grants and Funding
- Professional Activities
Computer Science Education Research Group
My education research interests range from understanding how we can better teach fundamental computer science and computational thinking skills, to how we can apply computer science to better improve learning and learning environments. I am the leader of the Computer Science Education Research Group (CSER) based in the School of Computer Science. The CSER group aims to promote research and scholarship both within the field of Computer Science Education and more broadly in the Higher Education sector. The goal of CSER is to understand how we can improve the teaching and learning of computing, and how contemporary issues in higher education, such as the use of new technologies can impact upon the teaching and learning environment.
We lead the CSER Digital Technologies Education Program, where we support Australian teachers in developing skill and confidence in the new Digital Technologies learning area, as well as undertaking research into how we scaffold and understand the development of Computational Thinking skills in K-6.
We also explore how we can use Natural Language Processing, Machine Learning and Information Retrieval techniques to better support learning, and to better understand how learning occurs within learning environments, such as within Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). We explore the development of learning models within MOOC contexts that support good practice pedagogy, and community-based learning environments.
Current Research Staff
- Dr Rebecca Vivian, Research Fellow
- Dr Thushari Atapattu, Postdoctoral Research Fellow
We are currently seeking PhD student applications for students passionate about Computer Science Education Research. If you are interested, please review these example project descriptions for further details:
- Project: Analysis of Unstructured Social Media Data to Identify Cyber-bullying Attempts
- Project: Understanding learner behaviour in visual programming environments
- Project: A touch-sensitive programming experience for children
- Project: Connect to create: Multi-user, collaborative visual programming environment
- Project: Detecting Computational Thinking with smart sensor analytics
Distributed and Intelligent Technologies Group
My discipline research is in the areas of Software Architecture and Distributed Systems, leading the Modelling and Analysis program within the Defence and Intelligent Technologies Group (2011-2021). Within this project we explored techniques for developing accurate performance models for distributed software systems so that we can better understand the Space, Weight and Power (SWaP) constraints of systems operating within constrained environments, including defence environments such as combat management systems, but also other constrained environments such as seen within drone platforms. This work has benefit well outside of the defence space, as can be seen by our recent collaboration with the Ecology and Environmental Science area within the University to explore how we can better create drone environments to support conservation efforts across a range of physical environmental conditions.
In strong collaboration with colleagues based at Australia' Defence Science and Technology Group, we led the development of the MEDEA modelling environment, which supports performance modelling of software systems in early stages of design and development, including the integration of existing software components, and supporting a range of representative hardware platforms, including FPGA, GPU, VM and Cloud-based environments. After a successful 10 years of collaboration, and supporting 3 postdocs, 14 software developers, and many honours, PHD and summer students, we closed our lab in April 2021. More information on our work can be found in our GitHub repository, and in my publications.
Date Position Institution name 2022 - ongoing Executive Dean, Faculty of Sciences, Engineering and Technology University of Adelaide 2021 - 2022 Interim Executive Dean, Faculty of Sciences University of Adelaide 2020 - 2022 Executive Dean, Faculty of ECMS University of Adelaide 2019 - 2020 Interim Executive Dean, Faculty of ECMS University of Adelaide 2018 - 2019 Deputy Dean (Students) University of Adelaide 2017 - ongoing Professor University of Adelaide 2014 - 2017 Head of School University of Adelaide 2013 - 2016 Associate Professor University of Adelaide 2009 - 2012 Senior Lecturer University of Adelaide 2009 - 2011 Associate Dean (Learning and Teaching) University of Adelaide 2003 - 2008 Lecturer University of Adelaide 2000 - 2003 Postdoctoral Research Fellow University of Adelaide
Awards and Achievements
Date Type Title Institution Name Country Amount 2017 Award John Hughes Distinguished Service Award CORE Australia - 2016 Award National Leader of the Year Australian Council for Computers in Education (ACCE) and Australian Computer Society (ACS) Australia - 2015 Award 2015 Gold Award Winner for ACS ICT Higher Education Educator of the Year Australian Computer Society Australia - 2015 Award 2015 EdtechSA/ISTE Making it Happen Award - - - 2015 Award EdTEchSA Leader of the Year Award - - - 2012 Award Endeavour Executive Award - - - 2008 Achievement Australian Learning and Teaching Council Citation - - - 2008 Teaching Award Stephen Cole the Elder Award for Excellence in Teaching - - - 2007 Teaching Award ECMS Faculty Prize for Excellence in Teaching - - - 2007 Teaching Award Executive Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching - - -
Year Citation 2020 Vivian, R., Grover, S., & Falkner, K. (2020). Knowledge, Skills, Attitudes, and Beliefs: Learning Goals for Introductory Programming. In S. Grover (Ed.), Computer Science in K-12 An A-To-Z Handbook on Teaching Programming. United States: Edfinity. 2019 Falkner, K., & Sheard, A. V. (2019). Pedagogic Approaches from Systemic Issues. In S. A. Fincher, & A. V. Robins (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Computing Education Research (pp. 445-480). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
2019 Fincher, S., Kolikant, Y., & Falkner, K. E. (2019). Teacher Learning and Professional Development. In S. Fincher, & A. Robins (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Computing Education Research (pp. 727-748). Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.
2019 Falkner, K., & Sheard, J. (2019). Pedagogic Approaches. In S. Fincher, & A. Robins (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Computing Education Research (pp. 445-480). Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.
2019 Lewis, C., Shah, N., & Falkner, K. (2019). Equity and Diversity. In S. Fincher, & A. Robins (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Computing Education Research (pp. 481-510). Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.
2019 Vahrenhold, J., Cutts, Q., & Falkner, K. (2019). Schools (K-12). In S. Fincher, & A. Robins (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Computing Education Research (pp. 547-583). Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.
2014 Chiprianov, V., Falkner, K., Szabo, C., & Puddy, G. (2014). Architectural Support for Model-Driven Performance Prediction of Distributed Real-Time Embedded Systems of Systems. In Software Architecture (pp. 357-364). Springer International Publishing.
2014 Falkner, K., Chiprianov, V., Falkner, N., Szabo, C., & Puddy, G. (2014). A model-driven engineering method for DRE defence systems performance analysis and prediction. In A. Bagnato, L. Indrusiak, I. Quadri, & M. Rossi (Eds.), Handbook of research on embedded systems design (1 ed., pp. 301-326). United States: IGI Global.
2012 Falkner, K. (2012). Embedding communication skills in the study of the discipline. In A. Patil, H. Eijkman, & E. Bhattacharyya (Eds.), New media communication skills for engineers and IT professionals: trans-national and trans-cultural demands (pp. 94-114). IGI Global.
Report for External Bodies
Year Citation 2018 Ng, D., Vivian, R., & Falkner, K. (2018). Advising Students on Careers of the Future: A Report on the Careers Development Landscape in Australia. The University of Adelaide. 2017 Vivian, R., Lozanovski, C., & Falkner, K. (2017). Literature review: Supporting teachers to assess F–10 Digital Technologies. 2017 Vivian, R., & Falkner, K. (2017). Building Australian Teacher Capacity in Teaching Digital Technologies. 2015 Falkner, K., & Vivian, R. (2015). Coding Across the Curriculum: Resource Review (A157082). Australian Government : Department of Education and Training.
Grants and Industry Research Contracts
Mathematics Massive Open Online Courses and Mathematics Hub. Education Services Australia and University of Adelaide (R. Vivian and K. Falkner) ($9,500,000) (2020-2024)
Artificial Intelligence Resources. K. Falkner, R. Vivian, T. Atapattu and E. Palmer, Department of Education and Training ($805,000) (2019-2023)
CyberSecurity Education Resources. K. Falkner, AustCyber (with industry partners Google Australian/New Zealand and CSIRO) ($313,387) (2020-2021)
SEM Environment Employment Integration. K. Falkner and B. Phillips, DST Group Research Contract ($1,218,573) (2019-2021)
ICT Forecast and Analysis, and Exploration of Automatic Code Deployment to Computing Hardware Types. K. Falkner and B. Phillips, DST Group Research Contract ($902,852) (2017-2020)
For the Expanded Rollout and Support of the University of Adelaide Digital Technology MOOCS – Closing the Digital Divide for Disadvantaged Students, Department of Education and Training. K. Falkner, R. Vivian, N. Falkner and C. Szabo ($7,200,000) (2016-2020)
Artificial Intelligence Education Models. K. Falkner, R. Vivian and T. Atapattu, Google Research Contract ($83,749) (2019)
Review of the first Australia FRC program, K. Falkner and R. Vivian, Google Research Contract ($50,941) (2018-2019)
SEM Environment: Deployment Platform and Instrumentation Research. K. Falkner and C. Szabo, DST Group Research Contract ($1,033,014) (2017-2019)
Assessment and OS-Level Mitigation of Timing Channels. Y.Yarom and K. Falkner, Data61 CRP Research Agreement ($682,684) (2016-2019)
Airborne spatial tracking for saving endangered species. D. Ranasinghe, L. P. Koh, K. Falkner, B. Ostendorf, G. Puddy, ARC Linkage Project ($181,194) (2016-2018)
Assessment for the F-10 Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies, Education Services Australia (ESA) Research Contract. R. Vivian & K. Falkner. ($141,616) (2016-2018).
Understanding Australia’s Teaching Culture with Respect to Gender Diversity, C. Szabo, K. Falkner, A. Szorenyi and D. Michell, Google Australia, $26,764 (2017)
Understanding the relationship between social community formation and progression within MOOC environments, K. Falkner, R. Vivian and T. Atapattu, Research Contract, Google Australia, $37,687 (2017)
KVM Literature Review. K. Falkner, DST Group Research Contract ($60,000) (2017)
Delivery of a Fully Operational SEM Environment. K. Falkner and C. Szabo, DST Group Research Contract ($150,000) (2016-2017)
Submarine Combat System Large Scale Computing Infrastructure Performance and Interoperability Insight. K. Falkner and C. Szabo, DST Group Research Contract ($150,000) (2016-2017)
Computing Infrastructure Performance and Interoperability Research (Generic Vehicle Architecture Integration). K. Falkner and C. Szabo, DST Group Research Contract ($110,000) (2016)
Expanding Teacher Professional Development – Beyond the CSER MOOC, Google Research Contract. K. Falkner, R. Vivian. ($95,101) (2016)
Assessment and OS-Level Mitigation of Timing Channels. Y.Yarom and K. Falkner, NICTA CRP Research Agreement ($132,378) (2015-2016)
Automated Analysis of MOOC Discussion Content to Support Personalised Learning, K. Falkner, Google MOOC Focused Research Awards. ($50,000 US) (2015-2016)
Pathways to Computer Science: Enabling Equity and Diversity. K. Falkner, C. Szabo, A.Szorenyi and D. Michell, Google Research Contract ($55,000) (2015-2016)
I have a strong interest in Computer Science Education Research, mainly in the areas of collaborative and active pedagogy, and the use of technology to support online learning, including MOOCs, online collaboration environments and technology-assisted education. You can read more about my work in this area at the Computer Science Education Research Group (CSER) site.
I led a five-year curriculum redevelopment program in the School of Computer Science, incorporating best-practice and innovative pedagogy designed to support equity and increase engagement. As part of this, I led the development of The University of Adelaide’s first Computer Science MOOC: Think Create Code, launched in 2015 on edX, attracting over 25,000 students from 177 countries. Built upon contextualised and collaborative pedagogy as a strategy for increasing diversity, the first cohort for this course attracted 34.4% female participation, significantly higher than participation rates seen in traditional learning environments.
CSER leads the development of the CSER Digital Technologies MOOCs, free online courses, designed to support Australian teachers with implementing the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies and more recently in Mathematics. These courses are free and open to all Australian teachers, and will help connect you with a community of interested educators.
Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)
Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name 2021 Co-Supervisor Prediction of mastery learning and misconceptions picked up by users in MOOC contexts Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Abhilash Sridhara
Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)
Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name 2018 - 2022 Principal Supervisor Investigating Students’ Learning through Learner roles and Linguistic Expressions in Massive Open Online Courses Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Lavendini Sivaneasharajah 2017 - 2020 Principal Supervisor Codification Pedagogy for Introductory Procedural Programming Courses Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Rita Alicia Garcia 2017 - 2021 Principal Supervisor In Search of a Common Thread: Enhancing the LBD Workflow with a view to its Widespread Applicability Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Menasha Thilakaratne 2015 - 2017 Principal Supervisor Towards Technologies for Promoting Nutritional Health in Older People with Dementia Living in their Own Home Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Asangi Jayatilaka 2015 - 2021 Principal Supervisor Enterprise Security Architecture - Mythology or Methodology? Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Ms Michelle Rey Graham 2014 - 2017 Co-Supervisor Adaptive Anomalous Behavior Identification in Large-Scale Distributed Systems Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Javier Alvarez 2014 - 2019 Principal Supervisor Detecting Students At-Risk Using Learning Analytics Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Ayman Saleh S Albassam 2012 - 2018 Principal Supervisor Semantic Component Selection Based on Non-Functional Requirements Master of Science in Mathematical and Computer Sciences Master Part Time Mr Amir Kanan Kashefi 2011 - 2015 Principal Supervisor A computational model for task-adapted knowledge organisation: improving learning through concept maps extracted from lecture slides Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Thushari Atapattu 2011 - 2022 Principal Supervisor Deployment Optimisation Insights for Evolving Software Systems within a Constrained Computing Environment Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Mr Gavin Stanley Puddy 2010 - 2014 Principal Supervisor Engineering Security Methodologies for Distributed Systems Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Anton Uzunov 2003 - 2014 Co-Supervisor Software-Based Reference Protection for Component Isolation Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time APrf Yuval Yarom 2003 - 2008 Co-Supervisor Surf: An Abstract Model of Distributed Garbage Collection Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr William Brodie-Tyrrell
Date Role Board name Institution name Country 2021 - 2022 Board Member SATAC Board South Australian Tertiary Admissions Centre Australia 2019 - ongoing Council St Ann's College Council St Ann's College Australia 2018 - ongoing Board Member ADSEI Board Australian Data Science Education Institute Australia 2015 - ongoing Board Member ACS ICT Educators Board Australian Computer Society Australia 2006 - 2011 Co-Founder Higher Education Research Group of Adelaide University of Adelaide Australia
Date Role Membership Country 2018 - 2020 President Australian Council of Deans of ICT Australia 2015 - ongoing Member ACDICT Executive Committee -
Date Role Editorial Board Name Institution Country 2015 - ongoing Associate Editor ACM Transactions on Computing Education - - 2014 - ongoing Associate Editor IEEE Transactions on Education - -
Date Office Name Institution Country 2014 - ongoing Chair, ACM SIGCSE - Australasia ACM Special Interest Group in Computer Science Education - Australasia -
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