TALE 2018 Keynote Speakers

Dr Bror Saxberg – Vice President, Learning Science, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), USA

Keynote Title: Learning Engineering: The Art of Applying Learning Science at Scale

Herb Simon first came up with the term “learning engineering” in the 1960's to describe the application of learning science within constraints to real-world learning environments. With rapidly changing information-rich tools making careers change faster and faster, there is more value than ever in having learning environments that can be trusted to change what each person can decide and do from where they start, to what's needed, throughout our lives, in and out of work and school. However, most of our large-scale learning environments, at school, at work and elsewhere, have not made effective use of the build-up of learning science over the last few decades. How do we get "learning engineering" to happen? This talk will cover some key general findings about expertise, learning, and motivation that can be applied at scale, and offer a change management approach to implementing at scale.

Speaker Bio​graphy

As Vice President, Learning Science, Dr Bror Saxberg is responsible for CZI’s thinking about how to expand and apply learning science results and good learning measurement practice at scale to real-world learning situations across the full span of learning – pre-K, K-16 and beyond. Dr Saxberg most recently served as Chief Learning Officer at Kaplan, Inc., where he was responsible for the research and application of innovative evidence-based learning strategies, technologies and products across Kaplan’s full range of educational services offerings. He also worked to maintain consistent learning standards for Kaplan's products and services. Dr Saxberg also served as Senior Vice President and Chief Learning Officer at K12, Inc., where he was responsible for designing both online and offline learning environments and developing new student products and services. Dr Saxberg has also held positions at Knowledge Universe, Dorling Kindersley and McKinsey. Dr Saxberg received an BA with Honours in Mathematics and a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Washington, an MA in mathematics from Oxford University, a PhD in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT, and an MD from Harvard Medical School.

Professor Gregor Kennedy – Pro Vice-Chancellor (Teaching & Learning), The University of Melbourne and Director, Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education, Australia

Keynote Title: Can You Be a Learning Engineer When You Can’t Engineer Learning?

Those who pay attention to both the flurries and windstorms of educational technology will have noticed the arrival of the term “learning engineering”. This emerging area of research and development combines elements of the learning sciences, learning design and learning technologies. In part the rise of learning engineering seems to be accompanied by the implicit or explicit desire to take the efficacy of student learning in digital environments more seriously. Where is the hard evidence of what works? And how can what works be systematically applied in the design – the engineering – of our digital learning environments? In this presentation I will seek to provoke delegates by unpacking the concept of “learning engineering”. I will present two broad arguments as to why this emerging area is contentious or even problematic. While being entirely too literal I will first argue that, in fact, it is very difficult to truly engineer learning. Second, I will argue the desire of proponents of learning engineering to arrive at some hard evidence to guide practice ignores a raft of educational research that can already – and does already – guide high quality learning design. I will conclude the talk by reflecting on why we, as a community of educators, seem unable to consistently apply what we already know about student learning to the mainstream design of digital learning environments in educational institutions.

Speaker Bio​graphy


Professor Gregor Kennedy is Pro Vice-Chancellor (Teaching & Learning) at the University of Melbourne and Director of the Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education. Professor Kennedy is an international leader in educational technology research and development, particularly in the context of higher education. He has longstanding research interests in contemporary learning design and emerging technologies, educational technology research and evaluation, interactivity and engagement in digital learning, 3D immersive virtual environments, and the use of learning analytics in digital learning environments. He has published widely in these areas and is a regular keynote and invited presenter at local and international conferences. As Pro Vice-Chancellor (Teaching and Learning), Professor Kennedy leads the University's strategy in teaching, learning and assessment, curriculum innovation, and the use of learning technologies and learning analytics.

Emeritus Professor James Trevelyan – Author of The Making of an Expert Engineer, Australia

Keynote Title: Doing More with Less ...

Several indicators provide compelling evidence that engineers could perform much better than they do today. Major engineering projects fail routinely, and multifactor productivity growth is minimal across OECD countries. Lying behind these indicators we can find some striking gaps in engineering education: 1) Students find it hard to explain the value of engineering beyond vague assertions involving technical problem solving and making the world a better place; 2) Engineers find it hard to explain the value of their work to employers, investors, even governments. These gaps could easily be addressed by explaining the purpose of engineering, perhaps in these terms: “Engineers use technical knowledge and foresight to conceive, deliver, operate and sustain man-made objects and systems that enable people to do more with less effort, time, materials, energy, uncertainty, health risk and environmental disturbances.” Recent research has provided a theoretical basis to teach students how engineering creates immense economic value. This research has come just in time because engineers face the greatest challenge imaginable in the next three decades: eliminating greenhouse emissions desirably by 2040 and definitely by 2055. Engineers need to enable everyone on the planet to do more with less—zero nett emissions, but also less effort, time, materials, energy, uncertainty, health risk and environmental disturbances. Companies now expect engineers to be able to do this… and fast! It would also be helpful to make fundamental changes in the culture of engineering education, particularly to change from a competitive culture rewarding individual effort to one that rewards collaboration.

Speaker Bio​graphy

Emeritus Professor James Trevelyan is a practising professional engineer, engineering educator and researcher with 45 years of experience and has recently become a start-up entrepreneur.  In 2002, he was elected a Fellow of the Institution of Engineers Australia. He is best known internationally for pioneering research that resulted in sheep shearing robots from 1975 till 1993.  He and his students produced the first industrial robot that could be remotely operated via the internet in 1994. From 1996 till 2002 he researched landmine clearance methods and since 2002 he has researched engineering practice and recently published significant new findings in his book "The Making of an Expert Engineer" challenging many conventional assumptions among engineers and educators.  Using his research, James helped define the current professional competency standards used by Engineers Australia. Professor Trevelyan's web pages are at http://JamesPTrevelyan.com/  , http://www.closecomfort.com/ and http://www.mech.uwa.edu.au/jpt/ .

Xiaochen (Susan) Zhang – Director of Global Sales, Bytedance Inc., China

Keynote Title: Go Big, Girl Geek!

From a software engineer "behind the screen" to an international speaker "on the front"; from an international student to a global citizen; from the "tech giant" Google to "the most valuable startup in the world"—Susan‘s curious mind and go-getter attitude create a life twice its speed as it seems to others. In this keynote, she will unfold stories behind her "IT girl" journey and reflections by her adventurous soul.

Speaker Bio​graphy


Xiaochen (Susan) Zhang is Director of Global Sales at Bytedance, a leading Chinese Internet company whose content platforms enable people to enjoy content powered by artificial intelligence (AI) technology. She previously worked as a Creative Technologist at Google in London. Ms Zhang has deep expertise in both the buy and sell sides of online advertising, having worked to bring machine learning and programmatic advertising to life for the largest advertisers across Europe and the United Kingdom. A serial entrepreneur, Ms Zhang has founded multiple start-ups, including Dragon Translating and Interpreting Service, which helps Australian Businesses and government agencies to improve cultural understanding with China. She uses these experiences to mentor young entrepreneurs in Sydney, London and Canada. She is a committee member for the Institute of Director's Young Directors Forum in London and an Australian delegate for the G20 Young Entrepreneurs Alliance. Ms Zhang holds dual Bachelor degrees in Computer Science and Software Engineering from Zhengzhou University, China and the University of Wollongong (UOW), Australia, as well as a Master of Information Communication Technology majoring in Enterprise Networking, also from UOW.

Important Dates

16 Apr 2018

First-time author OPTIONAL  submission (CLOSED)


15 May 2018

Feedback to first-time authors (COMPLETE)

24 Aug  2018

Paper subsmission deadline (EXTENDED)

17 Aug 2018

Notification of review outcomes


01 Oct 2018

Camera-ready papers due

08 Oct 2018

Early-bird and presenter registration deadline

04 Dec 2018

Conference opening

04 Dec 2018

05 Dec 2018

06 Dec 2018

07 Dec 2018 

Pre-Conf Workshops + Opening + Welcome Reception

Main Technical Program + Conf Dinner

Main Technical Program + Closing Ceremony

Social Program (optional tours)

Bronze Sponsors

GOLD Sponsor

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Contact:     secretariat@tale2018.org

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