About Professor Michael Jacobson

Micheal's main focus is to understand how to enhance the learning of emerging scientific knowledge about complex physical and social systems using 3D virtual reality and modeling environments.

Michael J. Jacobson, Ph.D., is a Professor and Chair of Education in the Faculty of Education and Social Work at The University of Sydney where he is also affiliated with the Centre for Research on Computer Supported Collaborative Learning and Cognition.

Professor Jacobson’s research focuses on the design of learning technologies to foster deep conceptual understanding, conceptual change, and knowledge transfer in challenging conceptual domains. Most recently, his work has explored learning in agent-augmented multi-user virtual environments and with agent-based modeling and visualization tools, as well as cognitive and learning issues related to understanding new scientific perspectives emerging from the study of complex systems. Professor Jacobson has published extensively in areas related to the learning sciences and technology, including scientific papers, book chapters, and one book (second one under contract). He has given talks and invited addresses at national and international conferences and served as an educational and business consultant both in the United States and abroad. His research has been funded by groups such as the Singapore Ministry of Education, Korean Ministry of Information and Communication, and U.S. National Science Foundation. In addition, he is an Affiliate of the New England Complex Systems Institute and he served a member of the organizing committees for the International Conference on Complex Systems and the National Initiative on Complex Systems in K-16 Education. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1991. Prior to joining the University of Sydney, he was an Associate Professor in the Learning Sciences Laboratory at the National Institute of Education (NIE), Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and the Senior Associate Director and an Associate Professor at the Korea University Center for Teaching and Learning in Seoul, Korea. Professor Jacobson has also held faculty and research positions at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Vanderbilt University, and The University of Georgia.

Selected publications

Jacobson, M. J., & Kapur, M. (2008) Ontological Network Theory and Learning about Complex Systems. Manuscript under review.


Jacobson, M. J., Kim, B., Lee, J., Lim, S. H., & Low, S. H. (2008). An intelligent agent augmented multi-user virtual environment for learning science inquiry: Preliminary research findings. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New York, NY.

Jacobson, M. J. (2008). Hypermedia systems for problem-based learning: Theory, research, and learning emerging scientific conceptual perspectives. Educational Technology, Research, and Development, 56, 5-28.

Jacobson, M. J., & Wilensky, U. (2006). Complex systems in education: Scientific and educational importance and implications for the learning sciences. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 15(1), 11-34.

Jacobson, M. J., Kim, Y., Lee, J., Kim, H., & Kwon, S. (2005). Learning sciences principles for advanced e-learning systems: Implications for computer-assisted language learning. Multimedia-Assisted Language Learning, 8(1).

Jacobson, M. J. (2001). Problem solving, cognition, and complex systems: Differences between experts and novices. Complexity, 6(3), 41-49.

Jacobson, M. J., & Kozma, R. B. (Eds.). (2000). Innovations in science and mathematics education: Advanced designs for technologies of learning.  Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Jacobson, M. J., & Archodidou, A. (2000). The design of hypermedia tools for learning: Fostering conceptual change and transfer of complex scientific knowledge. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 9(2), 149-199.

Jacobson, M. J., Maouri, C., Mishra, P., & Kolar, C. (1996). Learning with hypertext learning environments: Theory, design, and research. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 5(3/4), 239-281.

Jacobson, M. J., & Spiro, R. J. (1995). Hypertext learning environments, cognitive flexibility, and the transfer of complex knowledge: An empirical investigation. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 12(5), 301-333.