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Curtin University

Professor David Gibson

Professor David Gibson Professor David Gibson

David Gibson

Position Director Learning Futures
Faculty Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academic
School Curtin Learning and Teaching (CLT)
Department Learning Futures
Campus Bentley Campus
Location 105.Level 1
Phone 08 9266 1949
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Brief Summary

Professor David Gibson, Director of Learning Futures at Curtin University in Australia and UNESCO Chair of Data Science in Higher Education Learning and Teaching, received his doctorate (Ed.D. Leadership and Policy Studies) from the University of Vermont in 1999 based on a study of complex systems modeling of educational change. His foundational research demonstrated the feasibility of bridging from qualitative information to quantifiable dynamic relationships in complex models that verify trajectories of organizational change. He provides thought leadership as a researcher, professor, learning scientist and innovator. He is creator of simSchool, a classroom flight simulator for preparing educators, and eFolio an online performance-based assessment system, and provides vision and sponsorship for Curtin University’s Challenge, a mobile, game-based learning platform. He consults with project and system leaders, formulates strategies, and helps people articulate their vision for innovation; then helps connect people with the resources needed to fulfill their aspirations. His research has extended from learning analytics, complex systems analysis and modeling of education to application of complexity via games and simulations in teacher education, web applications and the future of learning.  Dr. Gibson has also advanced the use of technology to personalize education via cognitive modeling, design and implementation. 


Director of Learning Futures

Dr. Gibson provides thought leadership and vision for transforming e-learning at Curtin, provides group leadership and mentorship to researchers in the learning sciences (cognitive science, psychology, human-computer interface research, learning theory, digital media learning, emerging trends and horizons of digital learning experiences, arts and media learning, data mining and learning analytics in mental model research) and in the scholarship of teaching and learning (technology-enhanced pedagogical content knowledge, action research in classrooms, applied learning theory, exploratory research methods in social sciences).

Currently, he is working to unify digital learning and delivery on a new platform that can provide the university with adaptive curriculum and assessment into the foreseeable future while helping reach the university mission. The game-inspired e-learning of the future, which the Learning Futures team at Curtin Learning and Teaching is developing, is highly interactive, personalized, scalable, and effective and will help Curtin University lead the world with unique offerings and approaches.

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Memberships, Awards and Training

Professor Gibson holds the UNESCO Chair for Data Science in Higher Education Learning and Teaching. Gibson is also on the international program committee and executive of EDUsummIT, which is co-sponsored by UNESCO and leading higher education institutions worldwide. He is also a member of AACE, SITE, AECT, AERA and ASCILITE.

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Employment History

Prior to Curtin, Gibson was Associate Research Professor of Education at Arizona State University for three years, working as the Director of Continuous Improvement for the Equity Alliance, a federally funded regional technical assistance project. Prior to that he was Assistant Research Professor of Computer Science at the University of Vermont, working on the Global Challenge Award project funded by the National Science Foundation. The heart and soul of that program is now being adapted for Curtin in partnership with UNESCO to be delivered on Curtin Challenge, a new kind of e-learning platform that supports gamified individual and team-based collaborative learning.

Gibson has been an independent consultant, project leader, entreprenuer and technology innovator since the late 1990's. During these years, he created simSchool, a classroom flight simulator for preparing educators, and eFolio an online performance-based assessment system. At local governmental levels, he has worked with schools and organizations on leadership and strategic thinking, for example, mapping over one million student records onto a geographic picture of student performance and educational opportunities in ten major U.S. cities. At statewide and national levels Gibson has contributed to public policy awareness, for example, through analysis of the "least restrictive environment" placements of students in special education across the United States. In these projects, he consults with project and system leaders, formulates strategies, and helps people articulate their vision for innovation; then helps connect people with the resources needed to fulfill their aspirations.

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Gibson has taught research design and methods in cross-disciplinary social science doctoral programs, and ethics for engineering students. He has co-taught in a variety of leadership and policy courses in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Vermont, and the game-based learning program at Boise State University. He has also been an adjunct professor and visiting professor at the Korea National University of Education and University of North Texas.

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Research Fields

Mathematical Sciences

  • Dynamical Systems in Applications

Information and Computing Sciences

  • Conceptual Modelling


  • Curriculum and Pedagogy Theory and Development
  • Science, Technology and Engineering Curriculum and Pedagogy

Psychology and Cognitive Sciences

  • Educational Psychology
  • Knowledge Representation and Machine Learning
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Research Interests

Gibson's research interests extend from complex systems analysis and modeling of education to application of complexity via games and simulations in teacher education, web applications and the future of learning. He has advanced the use of technology to personalize education via cognitive modeling, design and implementation. His articles and books on games and simulations in learning are leading to applying game-based learning principles to the design and implementation of Curtin Challenge, a platform for engaging a large number of students in team-based complex problem-solving activities.

He is curently exploring the new psychometrics of digital learning experiences and spaces, designing new digital learning experiences, and coordinating transdisciplinary research to advance the learning sciences, use of big data in humanities and social sciences, the use of data mining and visualization as discovery tools, and the use of symbolic regression to find dynamic equations of human behavior in digital spaces.

Publications since 2007:


Gibson, D. C., & Webb, M. E. (2015). Data science in educational assessment. Education and Information Technologies, June. doi:10.1007/s10639-015-9411-7

Webb, M., & Gibson, D. (2015). Technology enhanced assessment in complex collaborative settings. Education and Information Technologies, June. doi:10.1007/s10639-015-9413-5

Gibson, D., & de Freitas, S. (2015). Exploratory Analysis in Learning Analytics. Technology, Knowledge and Learning, (March), 1–15. doi:10.1007/s10758-015-9249-5

DeFreitas, S., Gibson, D., & Morgan, J. (2015). Will MOOCS transform teaching and learning in higher education? British Journal of Educational Technology, in press.

Knezek, G., Hopper, S., Christensen, R., Tyler-Wood, T., & Gibson, D. (2015). Assessing pedagogical balance in a simulated classroom environment. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, in press(in press), in press.

De Freitas, S., Gibson, D., Du Plessis, C., Halloran, P., Williams, E., Ambrose, M., … Arnab, S. (2014). Foundations of dynamic learning analytics: Using university student data to increase retention. British Journal of Educational Technology. doi:10.1111/bjet.12212

Christensen, R., Knezek, G., Tyler-Wood, T., & Gibson, D. (2014). Longitudinal analysis of cognitive constructs fostered by STEM activities for middle school students. Knowledge Management & E-Learning: An International Journal, 6(2), 153–169.

Tyler-Wood, T., Estes, M., Christensen, R., Knezek, G., & Gibson, D. (2014). SimSchool: An Opportunity for Using Serious Gaming for Training Teachers in Rural Areas. Rural Special Education Quarterly.

Webb, M., Gibson, D., Forkosh-Baruch, A. (2013). Challenges for information technology supporting educational assessment. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning. 29(5), 1365-2729.

Gibson, D., & Webb, M. (2013). Assessment as, for and of 21st century learning. In International Summit on ICT in Education (p. 17). Torun: EDUsummIT 2013. 

Gibson, D. (2012). Teacher Education with simSchool. Research Highlights in Technology and Teacher Education 2012. C. Maddux (Ed.) AACE.

Kozleski, E., Gibson, D., & Hynds, A. (2012). Changing complex educational systems: Frameworks for collaborative social justice leadership. In C. Gersti-Pepin & J. Aiken (Eds.), Defining social justice leadership in a global context (pp. 263–286). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

Christensen, R., G. Knezek, Tyler-Woods, T., & Gibson, D. (2011). SimSchool: An online dynamic simulator for enhancing teacher preparation. International Journal of Learning Technology. 6(2), 201-220.

Gibson, D. (2011). Elements of interactive digital media assessment. Special issue of the Journal of Technology and Teacher Education. T. Franklin & L. Annetta (Eds.). AACE.

Gibson, D., & Knezek, G. (2011). Game changers for teacher education. In C. Maddux (Ed.), Research Highlights in Technology and Teacher Education 2011. Alexandria, VA: AACE-SITE.

Gibson, D. (2008). Make it a two-way connection: A response to “connecting informal and formal learning experiences in the age of participatory media”. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 8(4), 305-309. AACE.

Gibson, D. (2007). Elements of network-based assessment. Computers in the Schools, 23(34), 131-150.

Gibson, D. & Grasso, S. (2007). Global challenge: Save the world on your way to college. Learning and Leading with Technology, 35(3),12-16.

Sherry, L. Gibson, D., & Havelock, B. (2007) The Personal learning planner: Collaboration through online learning and publication. Computers in the Schools, 23(34), 55-70. 


Gibson, D., Koehler, M. J., Mcbride, R., & Wendt, J. (2012). Research Highlights in Technology and Teacher Education. (D. Gibson, M. Koehler, R. Mcbride, & J. Wendt, Eds.) (p. 195). AACE.

Schrier, K., Gibson, D. (Eds.) (2011). Designing Games for Ethics: Models, Techniques and Frameworks. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

Schrier, K., Gibson, D. (Eds.) (2010). Ethics and Game Design: Teaching Values Through Play. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

Maddux, C., Gibson, D. & Dodge, B. (Eds.) (2010). Research Highlights in Technology and Teacher Education 2010. SITE.

Maddux, C. & Gibson, D. (Eds.) (2011). Research Highlights in Technology and Teacher Education 2010. SITE.

Gibson, D., Baek, Y. (Eds.) (2009). Digital Simulations for Improving Education: Learning Through Artificial Teaching Environments. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

Gibson, D., Aldrich, C., Prensky, M. (Eds) (2007). Games & Simulations in Online Learning. Hershey,PA: Information Science Publishing., Idea Group, Inc.

Book Sections

Gibson, D. (2012). Game Changers for Transforming Learning Environments. In F. Miller (Ed.), Transforming Learning Environments: Strategies to Shape the Next Generation (Advances in Educational Administration, Volume 16) (pp. 215 – 235). Emerald Group Publishing Ltd. doi:10.1108/S1479-3660(2012)0000016014

Gibson, D. (2011). A Complex Systems Framework for Simulating Teaching and Learning. In  S. de Freitas & P. Maharg (Eds) Digital Games and Learning. New York, NY: Continuum International Publishing Group.

Gibson, D. (2011). Modeling Classroom Teaching Behaviors with COVE. In D. Gibson & Y. Baek (Eds). Digital Simulation to Improve Education. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

Gibson, D. (2010). Bridging informal and formal learning: Experiences with participatory media. In Y. K. Baek (Ed.), Gaming for classroom-based learning: Digital role playing as a motivator of study (pp. 84 - 99). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

Gibson, D. (2009). Designing a Computational Model of Learning. In R. Ferdig (Ed.), Handbook of research on effective electronic gaming in education. (Vol 2., pp. 671-701). Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference.

Park, H., Baek, Y., & Gibson, D. (2008). Design of an adaptive mobile learning system. In J. Lumsden (Ed.), Handbook of research on user interface design and evaluation for mobile technology (Vol. 1, pp. 286 - 301). Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference.

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Specialty Areas

Game and Challenge-Based Learning

Symbolic Regression

Cluster Analysis

Complex Systems Analysis


Performance Assessment

STEM Education

Teacher Education

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