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Dr Wayne Holmes

Profile summary

  • Central Academic Staff
  • Lecturer
  • Learning and Teaching Innovation
  • Institute of Educational Technology
  • Academic Team
  • wayne.holmes

Professional biography

Having been involved in education, educational technologies and education research for more than 25 years, I am now a Lecturer in the Institute of Educational Technology (IET) at The Open University. I received my PhD (DPhil) in Education (Learning and Technology) from the University of Oxford and have degrees in Film (BA Hons), Philosophy (MA (Distinction)) and Education (MSc Oxon). I also have a fellowship of The Higher Education Academy.

In the IET, I am PI on Data-informed Learning Design for Future Schools, a project funded by the Advanced Innovation Centre for Future Education of Beijing Normal University, Co-I (with Professor Denise Whitelock) on CODUR, an EU ERASMUS + funded project which is developing metrics to enable effective comparisons of online distance universities, and Work Package 8 Lead and OU Pilot Lead for TeSLA, an EU H2020 project which is developing a system to authenticate online assessments. I also have academic responsibility for innovative pedagogy in MINERVA, an OU project that is helping to devise new models of curriculum design and module production, using agile principles, innovative pedagogies and new technology. I have also led on the development of a session on Artificial Intelligence in Education for a new module on the OU’s MA Open and Distance Education.

Before joining the IET, I was a researcher and I taught at the UCL Knowledge Lab, UCL Institute of Education. I was also a Senior Teaching Associate at the University of Bristol (see Teaching Interests below).

At the UCL Knowledge Lab, I worked on the ‘Excellent’ rated FP7 project iTalk2Learn (318051, PI for the UCL KL: Dr Mavrikis Manolis), which also received awards at the EC-TEL 2014 and AIED 2015 conferences. I was responsible for the development of the intervention model and a novel approach to formative feedback, and I co-organised the UK summative evaluations. At the UCL Knowledge Lab, I also co-authored reports on AIED (Intelligence Unleashed – An Argument for Artificial Intelligence in Education) and on collaborative problem solving (Solved! Making the Case for Collaborative Problem Solving), and I contributed to consultancies for The Social Learning Network and Third Space Learning. I was also a co-author of the successful EU H2020 proposal iRead, and I co-designed a game-like online tools which aim to inhibit heuristic-only reasoning and enhance social learning for the unLocke project.

Before joining UCL, I was a Research Fellow in the Adaptive Systems Research Group, Department of Computer Science, University of Hertfordshire, and an RA on three projects at the University of Oxford: The Youth InitiativeThe Learning Companion, and Harnessing Technology – The Learner and Their Context.

I am also one of the two co-founders of zondle, a digital games-based learning platform which achieved 1.8 million registered users who answered a total of a third of a billion questions in games. Previously, I was Head of Research for a UK based international charity, Catch Up, where I contributed to the development of interventions for children low-attaining in reading and in mathematics. And before that, I was a director of educational video documentaries, and a teacher in Further Education.

Research interests

My research interests are in:

  • the learning sciences (the psychology and neuroscience of learning);
  • Artificial Intelligence in Education (AIED) (involving learner modeling and adaptivity);
  • digital games-based learning (especially for young learners with particular learning difficulties);
  • online digital learning environments (bringing together both exploratory and structured practice learning opportunities);
  • design-based research; and
  • Learning Analytics (using data and visualisations both to improve and to understand learning).

At present, as I develop my portfolio at the IET, I am exploring a multiple dimensions approach to formative feedback.

Selected publications

Journal article

Holmes, W. and Dowker, A. (2013). Catch Up Numeracy: a Targeted Intervention for Children who are Low-attaining in Mathematics. Research in Mathematics Education 15 (3) pp 249-265.

Book chapter

Howard-Jones, P. and Holmes, W. (2016). Neuroscience Research and Classroom Practice. In: Horvath, Jared Cooney; Lodge, Jason M. and Hattie, John eds. From the Laboratory to the Classroom: Translating Science of Learning for Teachers. Routledge, pp. 253–278.


Luckin, R., Holmes, W., Griffiths, M. and Forcier, L. (2016). Intelligence Unleashed. An Argument for AI in Education. Pearson, London.

Luckin, R., Baines, E., Cukurova, M. and Holmes, W., with Mann, M. (2017). Solved! Making the Case for Collaborative Problem Solving. Nesta, London.

Conference paper

Holmes, W., Mavrikis, M., Rummel, N., Grawemeyer, B., Wiedmann, M., and Loible, K. (2016). A Talk on the Wild Side: The Direct and Indirect Impact of Speech Recognition on Learning Gains. EARLI SIG 6/7, Dijon, France.

Peer reviewing

I have peer reviewed papers for various leading journals, including: British Journal of Educational Psychology, British Journal of Educational Technology, Constructivist Foundations, eLearning PapersLearning, Media and Technology, and Review of Education. I have also peer reviewed papers for the conferences ICLS 2016, ITS 2016, L@S 2016, EC-TEL 2016, and RO-MAN 2014.

Invited talks

I have given various invited talks, including: Future Schools 2030 (keynote) Advanced Innovation Center for Future Education, Beijing (2017); School of Educational Technology, Beijing Normal University (2017); Department of Educational Technology, Peking University (2017); What the Research Says, UCL KL (four talks from 2013 to 2016); ResearchEd (2014); Education and Social Research Institute, Manchester Metropolitan University (2014); VentureOutNY (2013); Israel Tech Hub (2014); Computers and Learning Research Group, The Open University (2013); Picturing Change, Oxford Brookes University (2013); Mathematics Education Research Group, University of Oxford (2012 and 2011); and 3rd National Dyscalculia & MLD Conference (2011).

Teaching interests

Before joining the IET, in addition to my work at UCL, I was a Senior Teaching Associate at the University of Bristol’s Graduate School of Education, where I developed and taught course units (Teaching and Learning with TechnologyResearch MethodsDesigning Technologies for Learning) on the MSc Education (Learning, Technology and Society), and I coordinated and taught on the Controversial Issues in Special and Inclusive Education course unit for the MSc Education (Special and Inclusive Education).

At the UCL Knowledge Lab, I taught on the MA Education and Technology (including on the Learning and Teaching with Technology module and on the fully-online Technology and Education Beyond the Classroom module) and I supervised student dissertations on the MA Digital Media, Culture and Education. I have also given seminars (on education, technology, and research) at the University of Oxford and at Birkbeck, University of London, and I was a visiting lecturer at Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany, teaching Collaborative Learning and Technology for MSc educational psychology students. Finally, I also have seven years teaching experience in Further Education (film, photography and media studies).

External collaborations

I am currently involved in various projects with colleagues at other universities. These include the Education Endowment Foundation/Wellcome Trust funded UnLocke, which is developing software that aims to improve pupils’ ability to inhibit irrelevant prior knowledge when learning new concepts (PI for the UCL Knowledge Lab: Dr Kaska Poryaska-Pomsta); iRead, which has recently secured H2020 funding (Project lead: Dr Asimina Vasalou); and GRASIDELE, which is investigating visualisations of complex learning datasets (Project leads: Professor Alex Poulovassillis, Birkbeck, University of London, and Dr Manolis Mavrikis, UCL Knowledge Lab).

With professors Jingjing Zhang and Ning Ma of Beijing Normal University, I am currently involved in a project entitled Mining mathematics big data to inform technology-mediated learning in primary schools (PI for the UCL KL: Dr Manolis Mavrikis).


Digital games-based learning for children with dyslexia: A social constructivist perspective on engagement and learning during group game-play (2017-11)
Vasalou, Asimina; Khaled, Rilla; Holmes, Wayne and Gooch, Daniel
Computers & Education, 114 (pp. 175-192)
Affective learning: improving engagement and enhancing learning with affect-aware feedback (2017-03)
Grawemeyer, Beate; Mavrikis, Manolis; Holmes, Wayne; Gutiérrez-Santos, Sergio; Wiedmann, Michael and Rummel, Nikol
User Modeling and User-Adapted Interaction, 27(1) (pp. 119-158)
Catch Up Numeracy: a targeted intervention for children who are low-attaining in mathematics (2013-07-24)
Holmes, Wayne and Dowker, Ann
Research in Mathematics Education, 15(3) (pp. 249-265)
Using game‐based learning to support struggling readers at home (2011-03-24)
Holmes, Wayne
Learning, Media and Technology, 36(1) (pp. 5-19)
Neuroscience Research and Classroom Practice (2016-08-10)
Howard-Jones, Paul and Holmes, Wayne
In: Horvath, Jared Cooney; Lodge, Jason M. and Hattie, John eds. From the Laboratory to the Classroom: Translating Science of Learning for Teachers (pp. 253-278)
Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon
A Talk on the Wild Side: The Direct and Indirect Impact of Speech Recognition on Learning Gains (2016-08)
Holmes, W.; Mavrikis, M.; Rummel, N.; Grawemeyer, B.; Wiedmann, M. and Loibl, K.
In : EARLI 2016: SIG 6 (Instructional Design) and SIG 7 (Learning and Instruction with Computers) (August 24-26 2016, University of Burgundy, Dijon, France)
Solved! Making the case for collaborative problem-solving (2017-03)
Luckin, Rose; Baines, Ed; Cukurova, Mutlu; Holmes, Wayne and Mann, Michael
Intelligence Unleashed: An argument for AI in Education (2016)
Luckin, Rose; Holmes, Wayne; Griffiths, Mark and Forcier, Laurie B.
Pearson Education, London.