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Personal profile

Personal profile

My career is focused on addressing the perplexing whole-of-organisation challenge of making schools and universities better at learning and teaching. I have been engaged in the design and/or leadership of major organisational change projects in Asia, the Americas, and Australia. My theory and practice approach has attracted over 20 million dollars in grants, contracts and direct funding for software system development, transforming  learning spaces, human resource models, curriculum innovation, and comprehensive organisational design.

My background includes serving as a strategic educational adviser to two major international computer corporations (at different times) and as a strategic consultant and speaker on educational change internationallyMy books include Transforming the Measurement of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education. Routledge  (Bain  & Drengenberg, 2016); Rising to the Challenge of Transforming Higher EducationSpringer (Bain & Zundans-Fraser, 2016);The Learning Edge: What technology can do to educate all children. Teachers College Press (Bain & Weston, 2011); The Self-Organizing  School. Rowman & Littlefield (Bain, 2007), and The Self-Organizing University. Springer (Bain & Zundans-Fraser, 2017) which was informed by experiences with change processes at CSU.  I am currently working on a new book with colleagues on the future of teacher preparation.

My portfolio of scholarly research includes publications in international peer-reviewed education, psychology, and technology journals that describe theory, and research-to-practice projects for technology mediated change in educational organisations. I enjoy doctoral supervision and currently lead a team of students working on a range of projects related to my theory to practice approach.

In addition to my work at CSU, I have held continuing faculty appointments at the University of Western Australia and Lehigh University in the USA and received competitive Faculty, University, State and National awards for leadership and innovation, teaching, and research in the United States and Australia. I served as Associate Headmaster of Brewster Academy, a college preparatory school in the United States, leading a multi-million dollar comprehensive school design and change project for over a decade.

When not teaching, researching or consulting, I am a keen very amateur adventurer and have sailed the Pacific from the US to Hawaii and across the Tasman Sea to New Zealand as well as completing a number of long distance cycling adventures in the US and Australia.

Research Interests

I am a research practitioner. This means that I research and write about what I do in applied settings working with colleagues and communities building better theory and practice to create change in educational organisations. As such, my work is an emergent expression of engagement with the profession. Most recently, I served as Director of the Smart Learning Initiative at Charles Sturt University working with university leadership, the Smart Learning team, and faculty members of the university to take on the challenging task of becoming a leader in learning and teaching. That work has produced two books (below) with one in progress entitled the Self-Organizing University and a suite of software tools.

Prior to the Smart Learning Initiative, I worked with the Inclusive Education Team at CSU on innovative approaches to course design that has produced two doctoral theses with two in progress as well as numerous publications. This work also resulted in three successful competitive tenders for the team, two from the NSW Department of Education and one with the Catholic Education Office - Parramatta.

I served as Associate Headmaster of Brewster Academy working for over a decade with the community to build a comprehensive model of school change and innovation. This included designing a software operating system for the school, designing the model of career progression and remuneration, professional development, and curriculum development as well as consulting on the design of physical space for a school focused on research-based learning and teaching. This work transformed the school educationally in a manner that also secured its fiscal position in the competitive US independent school marketplace. Further, the experience created the opportunity to engage with a learning community in a deep and sustained authentic change process described in my 2007 book, the Self-Organizing School as well as many journal publications.

In addition, I have consulted on major change projects in Thailand, Hong Kong, Brazil, and the US and led an international educational consulting group for five years that provided organisational design, including technology planning, software design, and professional development to school leaders from Europe, Canada, The United States, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand and Thailand. The work undertaken in a consulting capacity stemmed from the testing of ideas and concepts derived from the self-organising school project. Working with colleagues and organisations, my work has attracted extensive direct and indirect funding. Following is a sample of the grants and contracts that have either funded my work in collaboration with colleagues or resulted from those efforts.

  • Dell/Intel Outcomes Project: Classroom Technologies and School Reform. Co-Principal Researcher. Software Architecture and Research Design 3,000,000.00 US Dollars.
  • Roy Foundation - Development of the School Design Model
  • Classroom Space and Network Video Pilot- field-testing video-based classroom feedback system employing emerging video-telephony technology. 245,000 US dollars
  • Special Education Teacher Retraining and Accelerated Teacher Training Programs for the NSW Department of Education and Training Program. 500,000.00 dollars
  • Catholic Education Office Parramatta-Design, Retraining and Research Inclusive Education Teachers 80,000.00 dollars
  • Morris Foundation - Distance Learning Software Design 50,000 US Dollars
  • The Edward E. Ford Foundation - School Tools Operating
  • System Curriculum Development. The development of a network of software tools for the evolution of a self-organizing schools. 100,000 US dollars
  • Carlisle Foundation – School Tools Operating System. Development of a Suite of Tools for Personnel Evaluation, Curriculum Authoring and Enrolment Management. 100,000 US dollars


Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals


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