Rebecca Vivian

Dr Rebecca Vivian

Research Fellow

School of Computer Science

Faculty of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences


I am a Research Fellow in the Computer Science Education Research Group. I have qualifications in Education and expertise in Computer Science (Digital Technologies) Education, Teacher Training and Educational Technology. I have collaborated extensively with various stakeholders across industry, education, and government to deliver education and research initiatives. I receive invitations to contribute expertise and presentations toward a broad range of communities, including Computing, Higher Education, Teacher Education, government, industry and community associations.

I am a content developer and leader for our F-6 Stream and PL-in-a-Box initiative for our national CSER Digital Technologies Education teacher-training program, which has seen over 19,000 teachers enrol, and has received funding from Google and the Australian Federal Department of Education and Training.

I am passionate about engaging more young people, and particularly women, in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) study pathways and careers, and have been involved in initiatives and engagements to support this endeavour.

I am a multidisciplinary researcher and have expertise in Computer Science Education, Teacher Training and Educational Technology. I have a particular interest in understanding how people learn - their cognitive processes, interactions, self-efficacy and self-regulated learning skills, as well as investigating the way that we can harness technology to enhance and innovate learning experiences. I am a mixed-methods researcher, with particular strengths in qualitative research methods, and have experience in harnessing both qualitative and quantitative methods to investigate research questions. 

Two primary research areas I am currently exploring are: K-6 Computer Science Education and Online Learning:

  • I lead our K-6 Computer Science Education research stream for CSER. This involves understanding how we can harness Learning Sciences and apply Computer Science techniques to understand how young children learn Computer Science (including Computational Thinking) as well as how we can best support teachers to build their capacity to teach the subject. 
  • I work with our research team to apply Education Theories and Educational Psychology to understand how we can understand and enhance learning and collaboration in online spaces, and how we can best design data mining and analysis techniques and tools that are founded on Education Theory. 

I have collaborated extensively with various stakeholders across industry, education, and government to deliver education and research initiatives that are to inform policy or strategic directions, and have acquired over $7.4 million in research funding. This includes $6.9 million from the Australian Department of Education to expand our highly successful CSER Digital Technologies teacher-training program, which has seen over 13,000 teachers enrol. I also co-launched and co-lead PL-in-a-Box, with Google Australia, which is an initiative that empowers educators and leaders to facilitate professional learning in Digital Technologies with free, ready-made resource packs.

Our research group leads the national 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 the primary years 

PhD Opportunities

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:

Current Research Contracts

Artificial Intelligence Resources. Falkner, F., Vivian, R., Atapattu, T. and Palmer, E., Department of Education and Training ($585,000) (2019-2022)

Artificial Intelligence Education Models. Falkner, F., Vivian, R. and T. Atapattu, Google Research Contract ($83,749) (2019)

Review of the first Australia FRC program, Falkner, K. and Vivian, R., Google Research Contract ($50,941) (2018-2019)

The Expanded Rollout and Support of University of Adelaide Digital Technology MOOCs - Closing the Digital Divide for Disadvantaged Students, Department of Education and Training, Falkner, K., Vivian, R., Falkner, N. & Szabo, C. $6.9 million. (2016-2020). (Federal Government Funding). This project has been launched and is currently operating at our CSER Digital Technologies program website

Completed Research Contracts

Assessment for the F-10 Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies, Education Services Australia (ESA) Research Contract. $114,000 (2016-2018), R. Vivian & K. Falkner. (Research Contract)

Building Teacher Capacity in Digital Technologies, Department of Education Western Australia, R. Vivian & K. Falkner, $4545 (2017). (Consultancy Contract). This project resulted in a report for the Department of Education to inform their statewide strategy for professional development. 

Understanding the relationship between social community formation and progression within MOOC environments, Research Contract, Google Australia, K. Falkner, R. Vivian and T. Atapattu, $37,687 (2017). (Research Contract). This project resulted in a report for Google as well as peer-reviewed publications. 

Expanding Teacher Professional Development – Beyond the CSER MOOC, Google Research Contract. K. Falkner, R. Vivian. $95,101. (2016) (Research Contract). This project resulted in the development of PL-in-a-Box, a site with free ready-made presenter packs for implementing Digital Technologies and associated themes. 

Coding Across the Curriculum – Curriculum Mapping and Analysis. K. Falkner and R. Vivian. $77,889. (2015). (Research Contract). This project resulted in a published report for the Australian Federal Department of Education and Training, as well as an extended peer-reviewed publication in Computer Science Education.

Addressing the Challenges of the Digital Technologies Curriculum (Years 7 & 8). K. Falkner, R. Vivian, N. Falkner & C. Szabo, Digital Careers Sponsorship Agreement, $119,588. (2014-2015). (Sponsorship Contract). This resulted in the launch of our Years 7&8 MOOC: Next Steps

Building Digital Technologies Capacity. K. Falkner and R. Vivian, Google Research Contract, $48,312. (2014-2015) (Research Contract). This resulted in the launch of our F-6 Extended MOOC and associated resources.

Digital Technologies Workshop for Primary Teachers, C. Izu, B. Alexander, C. Pope, C. Szabo, A. Weerasinghe, R. Vivian, Grant ($10,000). A workshop for non-CS teachers in schools about computational thinking and computer science, with links to the Australian curriculum. (Google CS4HS grant 2014)

Addressing the Challenges of the Digital Technologies Curriculum: MOOCs for Teacher Development, K. Falkner, N. Falkner and R. Vivian, $65,000 + in-kind. (2013-2014). (Google Research Contract). This resulted in the launch of our F-6 Extended MOOC and associated resources, as well as a number of peer reviewed publications.  

An evidenced-based approach to the design and redevelopment of inclusive, technology-enhanced learning environments, Prof D. Wood (Leader), Dr L. Glenny, Dr C. Snowden, A/Prof S. Scutter, Dr. T. Du, D. Tedmanson, B. Underwood, T. Johnson, Prof N. Lindsay, A/Prof K. Falkner, R. Vivian, and Prof H. Partridge, Office for Learning and Teaching, Australian Government, $211,000 (2013-2016). (Research Contract). 

I am a research fellow and content developer for the national CSER MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses) Digital Technologies Education Program. We currently have the following free, online self-paced MOOCs:

  • F-6 Foundations in Digital Technologies
  • Years 7&8: Next Steps in Digital Technologies
  • F-6: Digital Technologies Extended
  • Years 9&10: Explore!

I lead the development of PL-in-a-Box, which is a site with ready-made presenter packs for facilitating professional development in K-12 Digital Technologies education. 

I am a team member for a 6 week AdelaideX introductory programming MOOC on edX: "Think. Create. Code (external link)". April 2015. This course teaches computational thinking and programming concepts through the creation of digital artwork using ProcessingJS.

I have been an invited speaker to numerous events across Australia on the topic of K-12 Digital Technologies (Computer Science) education and teacher professional development, including webinars for Education Services Australia, The Digital Technologies Hub, CSIRO Scientists in Schools Webinar, Google's International 2017 Education on Air event and for Google Apps for Education (GAFE) events.

Previously I have taught UniSA's 'Computers Communication and Society' Foundation course and have presented at UniSA in 2012, 2013 and 2016 as a guest-lecturer for the Bachelor of Education ICT Course on the topic of social network sites: research, theory and current trends and guest lecturer for the Charles Sturt University Masters program on the topic of "CS+Education".

I have had course practicum and volunteer experience working in Reception to Year 7 classrooms in South Australia within both Catholic and Public school systems.

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  • Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2017 Co-Supervisor Automated assistance during software development to support the learning of debugging and problem solving methodologies Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Rita Alicia Garcia
    2016 Co-Supervisor Computer Aided Formative Assessment in Collaborative Software Development Assignments Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Mr Hamid Tarmazdi
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  • Committee Memberships

    Date Role Committee Institution Country
    2017 - ongoing Co-Chair e-learning Community of Practice The University of Adelaide Australia
    2015 - ongoing Member ACM Transactions on Computing Education (TOCE) Journal Reviewer
    2015 - ongoing Member The Internet and Higher Education Journal Reviewer
    2014 - ongoing Member World Conference on E-learning Program Committee
    2014 - ongoing Member IEEE Transactions on Education (TOE) Journal Reviewer
    2012 - ongoing Member Higher Education Research Group of Adelaide (HERGA) Australia
    2009 - 2012 Board Member Student Leadership Undergraduate Group (SLUGG) (Inc.) The University of South Australia Australia
  • Memberships

    Date Role Membership Country
    2013 - ongoing Member Individual Member of the CSTA (ACM)
  • Position: Research Fellow
  • Phone: 83131894
  • Email: rebecca.vivian@adelaide.edu.au
  • Fax: 8313 4366
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Ingkarni Wardli, floor 4
  • Room: 4 44
  • Org Unit: School of Computer Science

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