Associate Professor Cathy Gunn

MSC HCI, PhD Computer based learning, PG-Dip Industrial Admin



I came to the University of Auckland from Scotland in 1995 with a broad remit: 'to promote the effective use of technology in teaching and learning across the university'. From 2007 to 2015, I led a high performing team of academic and professional staff working to build elearning capacity and encourage teaching staff to use innovative applications of technology to support student learning. My research applies a critical perspective to explore range of contemporary issues in elearning.


Early on in my career, technology transformed my 'trade' as an economics researcher and journalist for Lloyd's of London Press Ltd. The way I saw it, I had two options — lead initiatives to find productive ways to work with new technologies, or resist change and become redundant. I witnessed at first hand the outcome of the latter choice in a study of industrial relations during the demise of heavy industries in 1970s Britain, so decided to take up the challenge. I gained higher degrees while working on contract for Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh in the early 1990s, and have been employed in higher education since then. My personal mission is to demystify technology and make it accessible to people in all professions and walks of life. Over the years, that mission has become increasingly challenging to achieve.

Sustaining innovations

I see many parallels from my early career to the situation facing academics in the 21st century. Technology is everywhere, developing at an incredible speed and challenging traditions and principles that are cornerstones of our profession. Changing times demand creative responses. Finding ways to sustain quality teaching and learning innovations has become a key reseach focus.

Teaching and research

My aim as a teacher is to empower staff to make informed choices about technology, and to make use of the available tools to support and enhance student learning. This involves a significant research component to challenge the speculation that always accompanies the launch of new technologies. To quote one renowned practitioner;
"the overselling of most educational technology is really laughable, if it were not such an indictment of our (in)ability to learn from past mistakes" (Mason R, 1998, Globalizing Education, p156).

My research has a broad focus, and includes elements of organizational change, policy alignment, teaching practice, academic development, learning psychology, instructional design, diffusion of innovations, educational research methodologies and leadership. My academic development work spans all disciplines and levels of the institutional hierarchy. It is both my challenge and my greatest reward to support innovations driven by inspiring colleagues and post graduate student from the University of Auckland and beyond.

Beyond the University of Auckland

I use technology to maintain working relationships with an international community of elearning researchers and practitioners. From 2004 - 2008, my role as President of ascilite, a leading Australasian Professional Society promoted enduring links with the UK Association of Learning Technology (ALT) and The Office of Learning and Teaching (Australia). I assist on Digital Strategy for The Depot Artspace as a contribution to my local community.

Postgraduate supervision

I supervise Masters and Doctoral students investigating aspects of technology enhanced learning across the disciplines.


Life membership of Ascilite (Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education) awarded for sustained and outstanding service and leadership of the Ascilite community.


Deputy Director of CLeaR and Head of eLearning Group

Areas of expertise

  • Higher education research and development
  • Educational design research
  • Academic development
  • eLearning capacity development
  • Sustaining educational innovations
  • Academic and digital literacies
  • Educational leadership

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Gunn, C., & Lefoe, G. (2013). Evaluating action-learning and professional networking as a framework for educational leadershipcapacity development. International Journal of Academic Development, 18 (1), 45-49. 10.1080/1360144X.2011.613996
  • Gunn, C., & Steel, C. (2012). Linking Theory to Practice Learning Technology Research. Research in Learning Technology, 20 (2), 203-216. 10.3402/rlt.v20i0.16148
  • Gunn, C., Hearne, S., & Sibthorpe, J (2011). Right from the Start: A Rationale for Embedding Academic Literacies into University Courses and Curriculum. Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice, 8 (1)
  • Gunn, C., Kurtz, G., Lauridsen, K., Maurer, T., & Steele, G. (2010). Evolution and Engagement in SoTL: Today, Tomorrow and Internationally. International Journal of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 4 (2)
  • Gunn, C. (2010). Sustainability Factors for eLearning Initiatives. ALT-J Research in Learning Technology, 18 (2), 89-103.
  • Gunn, C. (2010). From a SoAP Box. International Journal of Academic Development, 15 (3), 273-275. 10.1080/1360144X.2010.497708
  • Gunn, C., Woodgate, S. D., & O'Grady WM (2005). Repurposing learning objects: a suitable alternative?. Research in learning technology : the journal of the Association for Learning Technology (ALT), 13 (3), 189-200. Related URL.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Winnie O'Grady
  • Gunn, C., McSporran, M., Macleod, H., & French, S. (2003). Dominant or different? Gender issues in computer supported learning. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Network, 7 (1).


Contact details

Alternative contact

Correct Location:
Level 4, Room 804-407
Auckland 1010
New Zealand

Primary office location

Level 4, Room 406
New Zealand

Social links

Web links