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Joy and Data

"The Australian Learning Lecture is a grand idea in every sense. The topic is important, the initial focus on ‘Joy and Data’ a stimulus to fresh and productive engagement, and the conception of a lecture series that is designed to create and support an on-going public conversation about education policy and practice potentially powerful contribution to Australian society." 
Barry McGaw, Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow, University of Melbourne and Chair, Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority

The ten-year Australian Learning Lecture (ALL) series begins with the theme of ‘Joy and Data’ delivered by Sir Michael Barber. The inaugural lecture looked at the rarely explored intersection between the joy of learning and the way in which we use data to measure, value and enable success.

Joy and data are two ideas that are not often expressed together. Yet both are central to learning.

"Learning is easy, when it's fun. But you want to make sure that what you're learning is accurate and will provide a good foundation for you to build future knowledge. 'Joy and Data' is an apt title to highlight the most important things in learning."
Marita Cheng, Founder, Robogals Global and 2012 Young Australian of the Year


Education in Australian is fast becoming a highly pressurised pursuit of success. More than ever, we are force-fed the need to excel academically if we are going to succeed in life. We now associate academic credentials with prestige and power – but is that really the case? Are we at risk of losing the joy of learning?

Success can be driven by joy as well as by effort. Too many students achieve academic success without any joy at all, while others underachieve, never having known the joy of discovery, contribution, or deep connection.

Rediscovering the joy of learning is how we can build a society of engaged, life-long learners and create a meaningful national conversation about learning for ALL.

"I have visited many high-performing schools in challenging settings... It is inspiring to see the joy of teachers who now know how to use a rich array of data to personalise learning. It is an even greater joy to see students who are deeply engaged in their learning, often for the first time."
Professor Brian Caldwell, Managing Director and Principal Consultant, Educational Transformations and Deputy Chair, Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority


When we think about learning we don’t immediately focus on the use of data. Data is seen as a by-product of learning or, worse yet, feared because of its use to highlight our inefficiencies and perceived lack of progress. But data can be exciting. It can be interesting and most of all it can be enabling. In education today around the world there are many exciting new diagnostic tools and methods of measuring success. ALL will highlight some of the diverse ways of thinking about and using data to ensure each student is successful, confident and ready for the future.

"Data creates shared spaces through which we can collaborate and connect with new people, people who may think differently from us and who can help us see the world in new perspectives."
Andreas Schleiger, Director, Directorate for Education and Skills, OECD