Professor Susan Edwards

Research Director, Early Childhood Futures

Susan Edwards

Areas of expertise: digital practices in the early years; cyber-safety education; philosophy of technology; play and digital play pedagogies; playgroups and enhancing adult capabilities about play

HDR Supervisor accreditation status: Full

ORCID ID: 0000-0002-5945-0597

Phone: +613 9953 3531


Location: ACU Melbourne Campus

Professor Susan Edwards is Director of the Early Childhood Futures research program in the Institute for Learning Sciences & Teacher Education, Australian Catholic University. Her group investigates the role of play-based learning in the early childhood curriculum for the 21st century. Professor Edwards has completed work as a Chief Investigator on three Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Grants: the first examining play-based learning in early childhood education settings; the second, the role of play-based learning in wellbeing and sustainability education; and, the third identifying the characteristics of ‘converged’ play in early childhood. Professor Edwards is currently lead Chief Investigator on the ARC Linkage Project, ‘A Best Practice Framework for Playgroups in Schools’. Professor Edwards is also lead Chief Investigator on a major ARC Linkage Project awarded to develop an online tool guiding the use of digital technology for service providers in early childhood.

Curriculum vitae

Selected publications

  • Wood, E., Nuttall, J., Edwards, S., & Grieshaber, S. (2020). Young children’s digital play in early childhood settings: Curriculum, pedagogy and teachers' knowledge. In O. Erstad and S. Pereira (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Digital Literacies in Early Childhood, (pp.214-226). London: Routledge.
  • Edwards, S., Mantilla, A., Grieshaber, S., Nuttall, J., & Wood, E. (2020). Converged play characteristics for early childhood education: multi-modal, global-local, and traditional-digital. Oxford Review of Education, 1-24.
  • McLean, K., Edwards, S., & Mantilla, A. (2020). A review of community playgroup participation. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 45(2), 155-169
    Edwards, S. (2019). Digital play. In C. Donohue (Ed.), Exploring Key Issues in Early Childhood and Technology: Evolving Perspectives and Innovative Approaches, (pp. 55-62). New York: Routledge.
  • Edwards, S., Nuttall, J., Grieshaber, S. & Wood, E. (2019). New Play: A Pedagogical Movement for Early Childhood Education. In D. Whitebread & D. Pino-Pasternak. (Eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Developmental Psychology and Early Childhood Education. London: Sage.
  • Edwards, S., Mantilla, A., Henderson, M., Nolan, A., Skouteris, H. & Plowman, L. (2018). Teacher practices for building young children’s concepts of the internet through play-based learning. Educational Practice and Theory, 40(1), 29–50,
  • Stephen, C. & Edwards, S. (2017). Young Children Playing and Learning in a Digital Age: A Cultural and Critical Perspective. London: Routledge.
  • Edwards, S. (2017). Play-based learning and intentional teaching: Forever different?, Australasian Journal of Early Childhood,42(2), 4-11.
  • Edwards, S. (2015). New concepts of play and the problem of technology, digital media and popular-culture integration with play-based learning in early childhood education. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 25(4), 513-532.
  • Edwards, S., Skouteris, H., Cutter-Mackenzie, A., Rutherford, L., O’Conner, M., Mantilla, A., Morris, H. & Elliot, S. (2015), Young children learning about well-being and environmental education in the early years: A funds of knowledge approach’, Early Years, 36(1), 33–50.
  • Edwards, S. (2013). Digital play in the early years: A contextual response to the problem of integrating technologies and playbased pedagogies in the early childhood curriculum. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 21(2), 199–212.
  • Edwards, S. (2012). Teaching through assessment: reconsidering the transfer problem through a convergence of technology and assessment in early childhood teacher education’, Teachers and Teaching, 18(5), 585–599.


  • 2020-2024, Australian Research Council Linkage Program. Edwards, S, Straker, L., Nolan, A., Henderson, M., Grieshaber, S., Highfield, K., Salamon, A. and Skouteris, H. Young children in digital society: An online tool for service provision (LP 190100387). ARC Funding $556,000. Partner Organisation Funding $650,976.
  • 2017-2021, Australian Research Council Linkage Program. Edwards, S., McLean, K., Skouteris, H. Henderson, M. and Nolan, A. A best practice framework for playgroups-in-schools (LP 160101759) ARC Funding $156,000. Partner Organisation Funding $150,000.
  • 2015-2017, Australian Research Council Discovery Program. Edwards, S., Nuttall, J., Grieshaber, S. and Wood, E. New play pedagogies for teaching and learning in the early years. (DP 5010204) ARC Funding $191,000.
  • 2014-2016, Australian Research Council Discovery Project. Skouteris, H., Edwards, S., Cutter-Mackenzie and Rutherford, L. Promoting healthy eating, active play and sustainability awareness in early childhood curricula. (DP 1400938) ARC Funding $232,000.
  • 2010-2012, Australian Research Council Discovery Project. Edwards, S., & Cutter-Mackenzie, A. Examining play-based approaches to teaching and learning in early childhood education and care. (DP 1092606) ARC Funding $60,000.

Accolades and awards

  • 2018 Australian Catholic University, Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education. Research Award for Early Career Research Mentoring. Internally competitive award $5,000
  • 2010 Monash University, Teaching and Learning Lead Fellowship. Leading 3 University Fellows to advance the scholarship of teaching across the university including the discipline areas of nursing, health sciences and arts. Culminating in Scholarship of Teaching Symposium featuring the Deputy Vice Chancellor Education and all three Fellows. Internally competitive awards $35,000

Appointments and affiliations

  • 2020- Program Director Digital Foundations (Research Centre on Digital Data and Assessment in Education)
  • 2020-2027 ARC Centre for the Digital Child, Associate Investigator, investigating digital play-pedagogies in the early years
  • 2020-2022 Playgroup Australia, Co-chair (with Dr Karen McLean) National Advisory Group, developing Australia’s first Playgroup Declaration informing policy, practice and research in playgroup provision
  • 2019-2020 Office of eSafety Commissioner, Expert Advisor, Early Years Online Safety program, informing national design and development of resources for children, families and educators concerning cyber-safety for children aged birth to five years
  • 2019 University of Edinburgh, Institute of Education, Community and Society, Visiting Research Scholar (November)–fully-funded by ACU University and awarded by University of Edinburgh via external application (one seminar on ECA Statement on Young Children and Digital Technologies; one workshop with HDR candidates)
  • 2018 Institute of Education, Hong Kong (HKIED), Invited Visiting Scholar (June) – fully-funded and awarded via internationally competitive application (one seminar on the pedagogical play-framework; one recorded webinar on using the pedagogical play-framework in early childhood STEM education to be used with 300 pre-service teachers in Hong Kong).
  • 2016-2018 Early Childhood Australia (ECA), Co-chair (with Professor Leon Straker) Digital Policy Group, producing the first national Statement on Young Children and Digital Technologies for best-practice technology use in the early years
  • 2014-2016 Department of Education and Training; Education Services Australia, Expert Advisor, Early Language Learning Australia program, informing pedagogical design of play-based language learning apps for young children, reaching 85,000 children nationwide
  • 2014 Institute of Education, Hong Kong (HKIED)
    Invited Visiting Scholar (March)- fully-funded and awarded by HKIED via invited application (two seminars on the scholarship of teaching and integrating online learning with problem-based learning. Mentoring of academic staff in the writing for publication from the scholarship of teaching).
  • 2011-continuing, Digital Education Research @ Monash. Research Fellow.

Editorial roles

  • 2020-2022 Australasian Journal of Early Childhood. Editor-in-chief – Competitive application. Role: ensure publication of high-quality research, promote diversification of published research, increased journal citations.
  • 2016-2019 Australasian Journal of Early Childhood. Editorial board – Invited membership. Role: to increase quality of peer-reviews and consequent publications; to inform strategic plan moving journal to an established publisher.
  • 2012-2015 Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education. Co-editor – Competitive application. Role: assessing manuscripts, assigning reviewers, communicating with authors, checking proofs, writing editorials, managing budget and liaising with host organisation (Australian Teacher Education Association). Increased IF from 0.667 to 0.964
  • 2011-ongoing Journal of Early Childhood Research. Editorial board – Invited membership. Role: peer-reviewing manuscripts, promotion of journal in Australasia.
  • 2011-ongoing Early Years: International Journal of Research and Development. Editorial board – Invited membership: Role: peer-reviewing manuscripts, promotion of journal in Australasia.

International journal review panel

  • Computers and Education
  • Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood
  • Teaching and Teacher Educator
  • Australian Journal of Early Childhood
  • Early Years Journal of International Research and Development
  • Cambridge Journal of Education
  • International Journal of Play
  • Journal of Early Childhood Research
  • Teaching and Teachers
  • International Journal of Early Childhood
  • European Early Childhood Education Research Journal
  • British Journal of Educational Technology
  • Technology, Pedagogy and Education

Grant agency review panels

  • Australian Research Council
  • Ontario Early Career Research awards
  • Office for Learning and Teaching

Public engagement


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