Professor Tech awarded Qld Govt grant for digital safety project

08 August 2022

CQUniversity's Educational Technology expert Associate Professor Michael Cowling has been named amongst Queensland's brightest minds in education research and granted over $76 000 for an upcoming digital safety project.

Associate Professor Cowling' also known as Professor Tech' was one of 14 successful applicants to receive a Queensland Government Education Horizon grant to respond to modern challenges in education and build solutions that will benefit Queenslanders for generations to come.

Focusing on digital safety in schools' Assoc Prof Cowling's project incorporates holistic digital citizenship' incorporating aspects of literacy' well-being' relationships and awareness of technology habits.

"We're anticipating through this project that we will gain a greater understanding of how kids interact online for learning'" explained Assoc Prof Cowling.

"This will inform a set of workshops designed as professional development for educators and we will deliver this back to Queensland schools."

Assoc Prof Cowling said student use of the online space has changed significantly since COVID-19' yet there was little empirical evidence of their current usage and how it relates to safety needs.

"This project focuses on the perspectives of Year 6 to 8 students' who are newly independent internet users' to identify the factors that enable or challenge their ability to use technology in empowering ways for learning.

"By identifying these complex and often less visible aspects of students' technology engagement and decision-making' our findings will contribute to a holistic and up-to-date framework of a digital safety culture' as well as a professional learning package that informs staff and student engagement for learning' and impacts new policy and practices."

The project is expected to run over six months and Assoc Prof Cowling will collaborate with CQUniversity adjunct academics Dr Kwong Nui Sim and Dr Joanne Orlando (Auckland University of Technology and Western Sydney University respectively).

Education Minister Grace Grace said the Education Horizon grants were more than just funding to support quality research' they were an investment in students' futures.

"These research projects cover a wide range of education matters' from health and wellbeing' to leadership' to learning in a rapidly changing modern world."