RGS Digital Parenting 2023 - Edition 8

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www.rgs.qld.edu.au The Rockhampton Grammar School Grow in Character and Scholarship No.8 July 2023 DIGITAL parenting tips/advice/what’s trending THE TECHNOLOGY TRADE: CHANGING TIMES IN SCHOOL WORKSHOPS GAMING MORE THAN JUST A GAME SCHOOLS STUDY AI FUTURE THE NEW WORLD OF AI OUR TOP TIPS FOR THE DIGITAL WORLD
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What Place Does Technology Have in Education?

New technologies have an important role in education and can add considerable cognitive and social value to the teaching and learning process. As teachers at RGS consider new technologies in their professional practice (including artificial intelligence), many are exploring how it will fit within their educational context. Some may feel that changing the way learning occurs and adding new technologies to an already full curriculum is like trying to copy one more handout in a jammed photocopy machine. Others question what new curriculum, pedagogical and technological skills they need to learn to confidently lead lessons that will be fundamentally different. Some wonder if project and digitally based learning will distract students from understanding important concepts and skills needed for success in assessment within school and for life beyond, including numeracy and literacy. Teachers who speculate about the relationships between technology, curriculum, assessment, pedagogy and the student are heedful.

Adding technology to a school campus will create new conditions for teaching and learning – it will defrost the ground teachers and students stand on, forcing them to approach teaching and learning differently. However, whether the difference produces a higher and deeper level of understanding depends largely on how the curriculum, pedagogy and assessment are put to use. New technologies are not a substitute for good teaching. They can be a valuable tool, but the best outcomes occur when teachers find ways to integrate them into the curriculum in ways that support learning objectives.

With the rapid rise of AI and other technologies in our lives, I encourage you to learn more about these developments, talk to your child about how they are using technology in school and help them develop the increasingly important critical thinking skills required when navigating the technical landscape.

INSIDE 03 COVER STORY SCHOOLS STUDY AI FUTURE THE NEW WORLD OF AI 02 SchoolTV Wise decisions in gaming 07 Virtual and augmented technologies O brave world, that has such people in it 09 Gaming More than just a game 14 The technology trade Changing times in school workshops 16 Digital world Just follow the rules hello


Numerous games can help your child become more coordinated, adept at problem-solving and multitasking, and help them develop social skills through online interaction with other players. However, it’s also critical to comprehend what may go wrong and what might be harmful to your child. Carers need to play an active role in understanding and being aware of what their young person is playing online and who they are interacting with.

To view a series of SchoolTV interviews with the leading specialists visit https://rgs.qld. schooltv.me/newsletter/online-gaming/

Digital Parenting takes a first-hand look inside the world of gaming through the eyes of a dad who shares his passion and provides a more detailed insight into this worldwide phenomenon. Read more on page 9.

Popular apps

We all have our favourite apps! According to a new report from RiskIQ, the total number of mobile apps on the planet has now reached a massive 8.93 million.

Here are just a handful of the most popular apps in 2022. (Source: https://www.businessofapps.com/data/most-popularapps/)


TikTok is by far the most popular entertainment app, with 672 million downloads to second place Netflix’s 165 million. Netflix remains the most popular video subscription service, beating out Amazon Prime Video and Disney+.


Subway Surfers held onto the title of most downloaded game in 2022, with 304 million downloads.


Instagram was the most popular social app in 2022 with 547 million downloads, followed by Facebook and WhatsApp.


WhatsApp Business was the most downloaded business app in 2022 with its 198 million downloads beating out Zoom and Microsoft Teams. The majority of its downloads are from India.


Spotify continues to be far ahead of other competitors in music and audio, with its 238 million downloads more than double second place StarMaker.

Young people might have a lot of fun playing online games, but parents and carers need to make sure they empower their child to make wise decisions and help them manage the risks.



Artificial Intelligence (AI) has long been a source of science fiction writers'’ most fanciful dystopian stories. However, in the last five years, AI has transformed into a tool that people carry with them and use daily.


Human voice recognition from Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and other service providers allows users to ask today’s weather, play music, and the meaning of life. Written language translators, driverless cars, automated farming are all coming online due to high-end computing power available through cloud vendors. As such, the School must consider how it can leverage such technological advances to position itself as a market leader in terms of technology adoption and utilisation. RGS Head of Secondary School – Academics, Ms Reniece Carter writes about the AI challenges.

AI implemented rather than it simply changing their work which programmes such as Quillbot or Grammarly do, or via functions such as spelling autocorrect.

Determining if it is possible for AI to provide feedback on student drafts was initially a key goal of investigations. This was in conjunction with determining if current AI technology could review key literacy dimensions of student work such as repetition of ideas, a lack of a clear thesis statement, poor paragraph connections and ineffective flow of ideas. It is important to acknowledge any AI system implemented would need to be age appropriate and ask age applicable questions in relation to suggestions and proposed changes.

It would be foolish to attempt to reinvent the wheel. Investigating products currently in the marketplace allowed the refocus of investigation goals and showed what is and what is not feasible.

Any technology used at RGS must be part of teacher directed learning. This is especially given teachers are the most important single influence on student outcomes. As the recent Covid-19 pandemic highlighted, technology never could replace the benefit of face-to-face teacher directed learning nor their subject matter expertise.

What is Artificial Intelligence?

According to the Australia government, ‘artificial intelligence has the potential to deliver economy-wide benefit by lifting Australia’s competitive capabilities, enabling industry wide transformation, and unlocking local jobs and economic growth.’ (Artificial Intelligence | Australia’s Digital Economy (pmc.gov.au)).

Ethics and Artificial Intelligence

It is acknowledged AI ‘has the potential to increase our well-being; lift our economy; improve society by, for instance, making it more inclusive; and help the environment by using the planet’s resources more sustainably. For Australia to realise these benefits however, it will be important for citizens to have trust in the AI applications delivered by businesses, governments and academia.

In the classroom environment, there are unexplored advantages available by compiling the vast amount of information on students, to effectively aid and enhance their education. Computers and AI are efficient at assessing considerable volumes of data and developing associations within that data. AI’s weakness is that it cannot replace the innate artistic skills of a master craftsman. Teaching is a craft, not a science, and not a computational exercise. It is recognised that AI utilisation in the classroom will cause some level of fear in the teachers the School is attempting to assist. The intention of the School’s investigations into new technology is to use AI to augment the human, not replace the human.

The School’s purpose is to ‘provide a disciplined, stimulating and innovative learning environment to inspire students to become successful lifelong learners.’ AI is certainly innovative, and the mention of lifelong learning, is something to which RGS educators and staff members aspire. The School’s aim is to have a fundamental impact on student learning. Consequently, RGS wants students to learn from the

Mark Newham was particularly accurate in his article, AI in Education, published in Briefings, Volume 24, Issue 1, February 2020 when he stated, ‘In education, we are only just starting to scratch the surface in realising what AI can do to enhance learning outcomes for students, teachers and school leaders. AI will become an important part of any attempts to scale up effective practice.’

Computer scientist, John McCarthy first coined the term ‘artificial intelligence’ in the 1950s. He used the term to describe the science and engineering of making intelligent machines.

Since that time, the term AI has been often used but rarely defined. The concept of ‘engineering an intelligent machine’ relies heavily on how the author or reader interprets the term ‘intelligent’. From the Terminator to Star Wars’ C3PO and Tony Stark’s side-kick Jarvis, AI has been both portrayed as a threat and an ally, capable of unique thought, revolutionary decision making and human-like interactive capabilities.

RGS has an obligation to ensure students are exposed to the benefits of AI in the modern world. This must also involve exposure to, and an understanding of, the risks or potential risks associated with AI. In a school environment, it is possible to ensure this occurs in a safe and managed way. However, given the potential uses of AI and resulting information, it is crucial consideration of ethical responsibilities occurs. There are many potential benefits to embracing edtech and the positive evidence is building, but the use of the AI-enabled learning tools in educational settings also raises thorny quality and ethical questions. (Shaping AI and edtech to tackle Australia’s learning divide, Leslie Loble, Dec 6, 2022.) While ethics will be considered in terms of how a system interprets student data, the education sector must also consider the implications for the teaching community.

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT launched on 30 November, 2022. It is part of a broader set of technologies developed by the San Francisco-based start-up OpenAI, which has a close relationship with Microsoft. It is a new generation of AI systems that can converse, generate readable text on demand and even produce novel images and video based on what they have learned from a vast database of digital books, online writings and other media. Generative Pre-Trained Transformer (GPT) is a type of large language model (LLM) that uses deep learning to generate human-like text. They are referred to as ‘generative’ because they can generate


new text based on the input they receive. ‘Pretrained’ is referenced because they are trained on a large corpus of text data before being fine-tuned for specific tasks, and ‘transformers’ because they use a transformer based neural network architecture to process input text and generate output text. (https://www. weforum.org/agenda/2023/01/davos23generative-ai-a-game-changer-industriesand-society-code-developers/). In essence, the model can generate content, based on the large volume of data it was trained on, by using a technique called transforming.

Since its launch much debate has occurred in education circles regarding ChatGPT and indeed AI in general. As educators know, it is not the first time technology has entered classrooms. Over the last decade, many discussions have occurred regarding how to deal with the use of spelling checker programmes, the use of Grammarly and Quillbot, the rise of Wikipedia, and indeed automatic translation software such as Google Translate.

The Impact of Artificial Intelligence Tools on Education

Programmes such as ChatGPT highlight the fact schools, including RGS must change the way they view and implement learning and assessment. As those who work in education know, this is not the first time such change has been required.

The rise of AI tools emphasises the debate as to the value of the historic approach of memorising and regurgitating information. As part of the monumental Senior School system change which occurred in all Queensland schools in 2019, the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA) identified and defined a set of 21st century skills students would need to be global citizens. Based on national and international research, these skills aim to ensure students can develop the knowledge, abilities and confidence to equip them in a rapidly changing world (QCAA, 2017). The inclusion of critical thinking, creative thinking, communication, collaboration and teamwork, and personal and social skills highlights the necessity for students to be active and engaged learners.

The marking of student work for homework or assessment tasks (both draft and final copies) can be a daunting task, and for most teachers, it requires a significant time commitment. However, as online essay grading software becomes more advanced, Remboint Director Dr Robert Williams says, “teachers can potentially save hours of their time, leaving them free to focus on more individual areas of improvement.” (How teachers can save hours of time on essay grading, The Educator Online, 7 February, 2023)


Q: Dinner ideas based on what’s in your fridge

A: ChatGPT

Based on the limited information provided, here are a few dinner ideas you can consider based on common ingredients found in many refrigerators:

1 Pasta Primavera: Cook pasta according to package instructions. In a pan, sauté a mix of vegetables such as bell peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes. Toss the cooked pasta with the sautéed vegetables, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese, and season with salt, pepper, and dried herbs like basil or oregano.

2 Stir-Fry: Heat oil in a wok or skillet and stir-fry a combination of vegetables like broccoli, carrots, snap

peas, and bell peppers. Add protein such as thinly sliced chicken, beef, or tofu. Season with soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and a pinch of sugar. Serve over steamed rice or noodles.

3 Veggie Quesadillas: Spread a layer of refried beans on a tortilla and top with a mix of vegetables like sliced bell peppers, onions, corn, and black beans. Sprinkle grated cheese on top and cover with another tortilla. Cook in a skillet until the tortillas are crispy and the cheese is melted. Serve with salsa, guacamole, and sour cream.

4 Omelette or Frittata: Beat eggs in a bowl and add any combination of vegetables, such as spinach, mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, and diced tomatoes. Season with salt, pepper, and herbs like parsley or chives. Cook the mixture in a greased

Dr Williams’ work is of significant interest to the School’s current research on the use of AI. He challenged himself to produce an automated essay grading system with a worldwide application. The result was NAPLearn, which detects features and ‘events’ in student essays through Natural Language Processing (NLP) software. An ‘event’ consists of action, actor, location and time, and algorithms are then applied to assign scores for most of the NAPLAN writing criteria. Essays can be on any topic, as topic training is not needed.

In addition to a numerical essay score, NAPLearn provides comprehensive visual and textual feedback on essay content, which allows teachers and parents to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the essay, and areas for improvement with the student. Of significance, is the fact NAPLearn assesses the NAPLAN grading criteria of Audience, Ideas, Character and Setting, Cohesion, Paragraph, Sentence Structure and Spelling.

The obvious fear by educators was ChatGPT would lead to plagiarism, especially since the tool is currently free. This was coupled with the fact the output from ChatGPT is unique given if asked the same question the programme will generate two distinct responses. This ability was seen as making it difficult to detect.

pan until the eggs are set. You can also add cheese or cooked meat for extra flavor.

5 Roasted Vegetable Bowl: Toss a variety of vegetables like sweet potatoes, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and red onions with olive oil, salt, pepper, and your favorite spices such as paprika or cumin. Roast in the oven until tender and slightly caramelized. Serve over cooked quinoa or brown rice and garnish with fresh herbs.

Remember, these are just some general ideas, and you can modify them based on your personal preferences and the ingredients available in your fridge.


However, it must be acknowledged ChatGPT does provide a usefulness in the education sector. It is apparent that AI tools including ChatGPT have the potential to assist with teacher workload but aid in the provision of classroom differentiation and personalised learning. In turn, this would aid in the facilitation of the School’s pursuit of independent learning. If schools ban ChatGPT and subsequent AI programmes that will undoubtedly follow, it will simply reinforce an outdated view of schooling and education.

Moving Forward

It is evident most of the discussion relating to ChatGPT and AI tools in general has focused on the way students could use such applications to cheat. Of equal concern is, how teachers and schools will catch students. RGS wants students to develop the higher order skills. Education institutions, including RGS, are not able to close pandora’s box and AI must become a fundamental part of the learner toolkit. Microsoft is preparing to launch a ‘co-pilot application suite’. Using this technology “you decide what to keep, modify or discard. Now, you can be more creative in Word, more analytical in Excel, more expressive in PowerPoint, more productive in Outlook and more collaborative in Teams.” (Introducing Microsoft 365 Copilot – your copilot for work - The Official Microsoft Blog). It is evident, AI will progressively be further embedded into the day-to-day tools students and staff are utilising.


The School wants students to learn from the AI implemented rather than the tools simply changing their work. Due to the publicity surrounding ChatGPT there is an increased awareness regarding AI tools in education. This is a positive outcome as it will allow the School to ensure the most appropriate course of action is taken in terms regarding this rapidly developing technology. The crucial decision the School must make is ‘when to implement and how to implement AI tools?’ Education institutions who jumped in and banned ChatGPT failed to carefully consider the impact and flow on effects of such a decision.

As already discussed, education has previously faced challenges relating to new technology and AI is no different. A considered and measured approach will serve RGS well in ensuring students are equipped for a world and indeed a workplace that utilises this technology.

Additionally, implementation of AI to support employees will ensure the teaching staff and support staff at the School are able to focus on their core role.

Independent Schools Queensland (ISQ) recently launched a new online Artificial Intelligence in Education Teams group, which has been developed to enhance an awareness of AI across member schools and support collaboration between schools in relation to teaching and learning, assessment and related technical considerations. During Term 1 2023, the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA) announced an Artificial Intelligence Working Group (AIWG) would be formed with representatives from Queensland Catholic Education Commission (QCEC), Independent Schools Queensland (ISQ) and Department of Education (DoE); Independent Education Union (IEU) and Queensland Teachers Union (QTU); Queensland Secondary Principals’ Association (QSPA), Queensland Association of Combined Sector Leaders (QACSL), Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia (AHISA), CSPAQ; Tertiary institutions, and QCAA. Relevant documentation states, “the purpose of the group is to explain the opportunities and challenges of emerging AI technologies and consider their impact on assessment practices, assessment design and academic integrity.” (www.qcaa.qld.edu.au)

There is currently technology available which would support teachers in completing these important yet time consuming tasks. It is necessary to note reporting requirements are mandated by federal and state governments.

A school capable of addressing and alleviating some of the burden of reporting and compliance will significantly improve the retention of their staff. To this end, schools must begin to consider methods to automate or simplify the increasingly large workload.

There is currently technology available which would support teachers in completing these important yet time consuming tasks. It is necessary to note reporting requirements are mandated by federal and state governments.


Q: School holiday ideas?

A: ChatGPT

Certainly! Here are some school holiday ideas that you can consider:

1 Outdoor Adventures

• Camping in a national park or forest.

• Visiting the beach and enjoying water spor ts like swimming, surfing, or snorkeling.

• Going on a bike ride or exploring nature trails.

2 Cultural Exploration

• Visiting museums, art galleries, and historical landmarks.

• Attending local festivals or events.

• Trying out traditional cuisines and exploring local markets.

3 Educational Pursuits

• Enrolling in a summer camp that offers activities like science, arts, or sports.

• Taking a short course or workshop to learn a new skill or hobby.

4 Family Time

• Planning a staycation and enjoying activities at home like movie marathons, board games, or cooking together

• Going on a road trip to visit relatives or explore nearby attractions.

• Organizing a family picnic or barbeque in a local park.

5 Volunteering and Community Service

• Finding local volunteer opportunities, such as helping at a food bank, animal shelter, or community garden.

• Organizing a neighborhood clean-up or charity event.

6 Creative Pursuits

• Taking up a new hobby like painting, photography, or playing a musical instrument.

• Creating DIY crafts or experimenting with cooking and baking.

Remember to consider any COVID-19 restrictions or guidelines that may be in place in your area when planning your school holiday activities.



William Shakespeare, The Tempest, 1611

The terms immersion and presence are often used interchangeably, despite representing different experiences. Immersion refers to the sensory fidelity of a VR system, while presence is the psychological response of the participant. This is why learning is so powerful in VR: immersive technology commands both the mind and body and enables students to wonder and interact with abstract concepts and foreign environments in 3-dimension. The plank test, a common VR prank, illustrates the difference between immersion and presence by requiring the participant to cross a narrow plank at a terrifying height.

As a simulator designer, I was reminded of the difference between immersion and presence during a VR prank at Melbourne’s Eureka Tower just 12 months ago. Despite my expertise, I broke out in a sweat, clung to the plank with both hands, and experienced a racing heart rate and vertigo. Even though I knew I was less than

10cm from the floor, the visceral sensory experience of immersion and the very real psychological fear of danger hijacked my brain. It is this complete absorption that makes education and training remarkable, transformative, and memorable.

Many people associate VR and AR exclusively with the computer gaming industry, but the technology’s applications are much broader. Initially, VR and AR were primarily used to simulate dangerous and expensive environments in fields such as aeronautics, defence, and mining. However, advancements in technology have made it cheaper, portable, adaptable, and accessible to all industries. This has led to a transformation in education and training, bringing immersive experiences to the classroom.

For instance, Resourceful Humans, a Berlin-based company, collaborated with David Marquet, a former US Navy Captain and author of ‘Turn the Ship Around!’, to develop a multiplayer

Immersive technologies, such as Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), are revolutionizing education and training by enabling teachers and instructors to plunge students into previously inconceivable experiences. Peta Estens provides an insight into her new world of AI.

VR experience that challenges teams to complete missions on a military submarine. Participants assume different roles, promoting agile change leadership and community building. The experience allows anyone to step into uniform, take control of a US Naval Submarine and develop skills and character.

In the previous edition of Digital Parenting, Emily Wakeling from the Rockhampton Museum of Art highlighted new digital art and 360 video recordings of museum exhibitions that can be accessed from anywhere and at any time. Many museums now offer remarkable in-house immersive experiences, such as Paris’s The National Museum of Natural History, where visitors wear VR headsets to interact with over 450 iconic species, tracing their evolution back 3.5 billion years. Another fascinating application of immersive technology in art is Professor Andrew Yip’s, from the University of New South Wales, extensive project ‘Henry VR’. The project involved restoring a Tudor portrait of Henry VIII and reconstruction of 16th Century London artists’ workshops, allowing participants to experiment with raw materials and pigments used to create the original painting and wonder at the sights and sounds of London over 500 years ago. This project is an excellent demonstration of how VR can be used to interpret, present, and preserve works of art and cultural value.

Also, in the previous edition of Digital Parenting, Professor Aaron Coutts of the University of Technology Sydney, highlighted the benefits of innovative technology for athlete performance development. A remarkable case study illustrating this is the 2014 story of Derek Belch, a Master’s student at Stanford who applied VR to the Cardinal Football team’s training. Head Coach David Shaw immediately noticed improved decision-making and


A curiosity for AI ethics

Peta Estens (RGS 1997) is an internationally award-winning researcher, digital designer, and technology training specialist. Peta is a recipient of the prestigious Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering Elevate Scholarship, and a Ph.D. student at Deakin University. In 2021 Peta graduated with a Master of Visualisation, Simulation, and Immersive Design from UNSW with the Dean’s Prize for Academic Excellence. This research catalysed her strong interest in ethics, regulation, and governance specific to Virtual Reality and

faster reactions in the team’s first game, which led to a dramatic improvement in their success rate, from a poor 50% to an impressive 100%, when entering the red zone. Astonishing results. It is no surprise Coach Shaw told the young Master’s student Belch “If I were you, I’d get out of here, start a company, make it happen. VR is the future of how athletes will train and prepare, and what you have is really good.” This year, Belch’s company STRIVR was listed by Forbes as amongst America’s best start-up’s. While the potential of VR and AR is often hyped, it’s important to understand the risks associated with immersive technologies. Indeed, there are new risks we must understand if we are to navigate and thrive in this brave new world, that has such people in it! I recall the words from Brian Hay, the Cultural Cyber Security Executive Director, from the previous edition of Digital Parenting, “how can you expect to manage the risk when you don’t first understand it?” Precise monitoring of a VR or AR participant’s sensory experience is required to avoid simulator sickness, but this monitoring raises concerns about violations to privacy and the collection and misuse of private and sensitive data. VR and AR monitors the retina, head tilt, rotation, teleportation, and response to sounds and stimulus. This intimate tracking and this tracing facilitates strong inferences about an individual’s personality. Biometric psychography can be used for predictive behavioural analytics, including targeted advertising. As we navigate this brave new world, it’s crucial to understand how such practices violate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including the right to privacy, and take measures to manage the risks effectively.

In closing, the previous edition of Digital Parenting, Ben Scott, class of 2020 shared an inspiring and optimistic reflection. His vision is to use art to connect our digital and physical lives in a meaningful way and broaden our perspectives. Immersive technology has the potential to help achieve Ben’s vision, but it is ultimately our collective responsibility to be digitally literate and in control of our data to ensure our experiences are used ethically and responsibly.

Augmented Reality technologies, including the Metaverse. Peta recently graduated with a Certificate of Cyber Law at Deakin University with more questions than answers. Her Ph.D. research explores the limitations of existing legislation, regulation, and policies in protecting Human Rights. Peta’s research considers how immersive technologies rely on tracking and tracing the participant’s sensory system to be operational, exposing XR participants to the risk of biometric data harvesting. With over 20 years’ experience as a Secondary

English teacher, Peta is an advocate for introducing ‘data literacy’ as a Primary and Secondary School cross-curriculum priority. As cybersecurity is amongst Australia’s greatest threat, we need to empower the next generation to understand how data impacts the construction of identity, affects a sense of belonging to community, and determines one’s participation in wider society.

Immersive technology commands both the mind and body and enables students to wonder and interact with abstract concepts and foreign environments in 3-dimension.



We see them, our children, consumed in their phone, iPad, computer or PS5, and wonder how they can be whittling their lives away playing some silly game. Yet, there is so much to gaming that is very hard to comprehend… unless you've lived that life, had those experiences.

Gamer tag: retsef

I started when I was young, in the early 1990’s, playing Mario and Sonic games. Hours upon hours jumping on Goombas and Koopa Troopers. Mario Cart on the Super Nintendo was a tour-de-force in commitment to get to 100% completion. I’m still not sure my brother and I ever got there. The Legend of Zelda, rescuing princesses and defeating the evil Ganon (with the help of a game guide admittedly), and dozens of other games.

Our first personal computer came in Year 5, and it changed gaming for me, forever. Doom was the start, fighting back the demons of hell, then Duke Nukem 3d –the best one-liners from a game ever, Australian-produced Dark Reign, Warcraft 2, Starcraft, Total Annihilation, the list goes on.

Then, I encountered the first game that truly changed my world – Half-Life. How did this one game make such an impact on my world? It was the very first game I experienced where I became deeply invested in the story – I experienced that game as an interactive movie. I spent hours as Freeman, escaping Black Mesa, and trying to seal the portal to another dimension.

That’s the power of games – they bring the player to an experience that’s unique. It’s not all about guns, explosions, cars, and creepers, it transcends the screen and keyboard and becomes an immersive

experience. This is why we lose our kids for hours on a screen, because they are immersing themselves in a story in the same way that they would if they were playing in the treehouse outside. Why watch, when you can experience, when your choices can change the story itself?

Half-Life’s impact was two-fold for me. It had a strong modding community – a community that used the base Half-Life game to build new games from the player’s imaginations. Through the process of trying to build a mod, and admittedly failing, I learnt to program. As an aside, my brother, who was working on the same mod, learnt digital drawing and animation. He’s now a professional 3d Animator, and I went on to program for 4 years during my career in IT.

Half-Life started my journey into the online gaming world as well, with mods such as Counter-Strike and Team Fortress, both games that exist in a similar fashion today, some 25 years later.

Then… I started playing a game called World of Warcraft (WoW).

WoW was first released in 2004 and millions of players continue to play even today. It follows the story of two factions, the Alliance, and the Horde. Each are comprised of multiple races (humans, orcs, dwarfs, undead and many more), and for almost two decades the Horde and Alliance have fought each other for survival. Each race has its own backstory, aesthetic, home city and even language. The game is so immersive that when an Alliance and Horde character are standing side-by-side and they type messages to each other, the game will translate what the players type into a foreign language. These two factions are both enemy and ally, with a constant undercurrent of friction and eons of mistrust, counterbalanced with world-ending threats that the factions will seek to destroy to save the planet.

I was late to the game, with it being almost a decade old when I started playing. I had watched many of my friends lose years of their lives to this game, and I had flatly refused to take.

At this point in my life, I had young children, so going out was no longer an option, and my other friends were also in a similar place in their lives. Money was tight, the game was not expensive ($15/ month), and my co-workers at the time were extolling the new expansion. So, I finally took the plunge and went on a trip to Azeroth. That trip lasted almost 5 years. Some days I still consider going back, just for a look around.

Half-Life was an immersive story - WoW is an immersive universe. Spanning multiple continents, multiple dimensions and stories, players in WoW have thousands and thousands of hours of content to experience.

I asked my co-workers, for my birthday, to buy me a 30-day WoW subscription so I could finally experience the adventure. I signed up, created and named my character, logged into Azeroth for the first time, and as ‘retsef’ an orange-haired dwarf warrior with a long-braided beard, I was quickly defending the small dwarven camp from an onslaught of Rockjaw Troggs for my very first quest. For my hard work I was rewarded a pair of plate mail leggings.

I played through the story of the Dwarven holds and assisted in their struggles to fight off the evil besieging them. Once I had defeated the evil there, I was off on my next adventure, arriving at the Dwarven capital city of Ironforge, then onto the capital of the Alliance, Stormwind Castle to meet the king of humans.

After a couple of weeks of gameplay, I was maximum level. In most games, that signals the end of the play experience, but in WoW, the levelling process teaches you how to play your class. Level 90 wasn’t the end; it was the beginning. The endgame content is where players spend almost all their time in World of Warcraft. Endgame content is group-based content, where players must work as a team to beat monsters, dungeons, and events much stronger than each player can accomplish individually. While you can play through the instances with randomly assigned players, communication soon becomes the key to success. The real experiences begin when players need to co-operate. This is where the guild comes in.

A guild is a group of people who share similar goals in the game, some play casually and carefree, some form tightknit communities to destroy the hardest of dungeons and bosses. Some of my guildmates were people I knew in real life.

Through the process of trying to build a mod, and admittedly failing, I learnt to program.
It's not all about guns, explosions, cars, and creepers, it transcends the screen and keyboard and becomes an immersive experience.

My at-the-time boss was guild-leader, as was two of my co-workers. Most of my guild-members, however, were not people I had met, or ever would meet.

The guild I started my journey in was a LGBT friendly guild, as the guild’s originator, my co-worker at the time, is in that category. This was one of my first experiences with this community. It was entirely positive, friendly, welcoming, and enlightening. I learnt so much in a short amount of time about the community, the challenges they experience, my own biases, and the language I used that needed to change. I was introduced to Jack, who only recently began transitioning to his new body. I remember him being excited about his first scruffs of beard after his hormone replacement therapy. All due to a silly computer game, I had to confront my preconceived notions and biases, and become, hopefully, a better human being.

So as a guild, we were casual players, but a few of us wanted to look at the hardest of endgame content – known as raids. Raids are 10 to 25-man content, meaning that they are designed to be done by a group of between 10 and 25 players (there is automatic scaling based on

player numbers), with each player taking on a role, either tank, healer, or damage dealer. Each boss in the raid, and there’s usually 8 - 12, has a set of mechanics, or attacks/movements/abilities that it does. Co-ordinating the team of 10 players you have never met, nor likely will ever meet is a life skill that I am forever grateful to have gained. For any ex-players reading this at home, potentially yelling at the magazine, I admit that the original raids were 40-player content and even harder again to co-ordinate.

I’m sure everyone reading this has played on a sports team of some type. In a team there are leaders, there are followers, there are social rules, good players and bad. Nothing changes on the internet, except that nobody knows what each other looks like, and all communication is done by voice without any body language. Raids, effectively competitive gaming in WoW’s sense, are high stress. One mistake leads to all players dying and having to start again, called a wipe, with the boss back to full health. A boss fight might run for 6 - 10 minutes, and a night’s raid session is usually about 3 hours. Quick maths leads you to think this shouldn’t be an issue to get done, but I can honestly say that some bosses have

taken many weeks of 3-hour nights to get killed. Ultimately, it’s a co-ordinated dance, with each player taking a role, a responsibility, and being a potential point of failure. One misstep, one person on the right when they need to be left, or one person accidentally standing in fire (a common mechanic), and it’s all-overred-rover.

The life skill this taught me was leadership. How do you lead 10 players through highstress situations, where the connection to each other is tenuous at best, and to

All due to a silly computer game, I had to confront my preconceived notions and biases, and become, hopefully, a better human being.

walk away in frustration is as simple as pressing the power off button on your PC? How do you make them come back next week? How do you, as raid leader, manage to lead the raid, giving instructions calmly, systematically, and without mistake while still multi-tasking your own set of actions? How do you defuse situations between players upset that the Night-Elf Priest had the wrong equipment on, or forgot to cast the right spell at the right time, for the 10th failure in a row?

It sounds ridiculous, but every ex-raid leader I know in real life (and I know a couple), tell the same story. Levelheadedness under stressful situations, people skills, reading into situations over 1000km away, building relationships, planning, managing, organising, resource management, are all skills that I learnt and refined in the crucible of battle – albeit a digital one.

This was all due to a silly computer game. I learnt leadership in a computer game.

Let me circle back around to our kids - the power of WoW, and most of the games our kids are playing, are the people they play with. Leaving a game like WoW is not just stopping playing, it’s leaving a team, it is losing friends, it becomes so much more than a game. So, before you get upset your kids are playing games all the time, consider that there are alternative skills being learnt.

My sons play solo, but really get engaged when they are playing with their friends. When my eldest son’s best friend left and went interstate, gaming is how they stay in contact. Now my son has made friends with his friend’s friends, people he is likely never to meet but otherwise has connection with.

“But!” I hear you say, “my child only plays silly single player games on the iPad”. Even the most basic single player game still teaches problem solving skills, resource management (in-game coins/ gems/etc), hand-eye co-ordination and trains reaction time. Minecraft teaches construction skills, Angry Birds uses physics, Fortnite teaches mouse-accuracy, reaction time and self-management under


1. Improved cognitive functions

2. Problem-solving skills and the use of logic

3. Hand-to-eye coordination

4. Faster and more accurate decisionmaking

5. Improved eye for details

6. Social activity and teamwork

high-stress situations, and games where players put makeup on dolls teaches colour matching and other artistic skills.

I must make it clear though, this article is not meant to be a treatise on unlimited gaming time for your student. As a parent I limit my children’s access to technology. During the school week, there is no technology, and as a family we don’t even watch TV, so when I say no technology, I mean that. On weekends the ban lifts at 10:30am, and they are allowed to play what they want, in the communal, public, family hobby space. I am a technologist, but I understand the impact that instant gratification has on humans. I remember the games I played, including WoW, playing with my brain’s reward centres, drip-feeding success just enough to keep me engaged. Another level, another hour, another round.

So don’t demonise gaming, but don’t glorify it. As a parent, definite parent, but let your gamers game.


1. Video games can make you addicted

2. Elevated risk of aggression

3. Games replace real-world problems

4. Some games promote gambling

5. Decreased physical and mental health

6. Lack of focus and concentration


Level-headedness under stressful situations, people skills, reading into situations... are all skills that I learnt and refined in the crucible of battle – albeit a digital one.
The pros and cons of gaming


Even the whiteboards are a thing of the past in some schools, as interactive screens dominate the classroom learning space.

Technology is not just something adults are adept at. Technology and today’s young students are on the same page and becoming more knowledgeable and confident in this space every year.

When today’s Secondary School Senior students were in classrooms, teachers were grappling with the concept that their young Prep students were unfamiliar with using a mouse with the computer. They had progressed onto touch screens for their games and reading.

In today’s RGS Primary School students from Prep to Year 6 are welcoming opportunities to use technology to enhance their learnings.

The teacher can review student work via the Class OneNote book rather than collecting exercise books. Parents can also view their child’s school work through this means.

This lesson shows that traditional learning tools such as whiteboards and an exercise book remain part of the learning, but can work in conjunction with digital technologies.

Year 4 student Danica said they used computers (laptops) and whiteboards often in the classroom.

“It’s a lot quicker typing on a computer compared to writing on paper,’’ said Danica, who enjoyed using computers and iPads from a young age.

Year 6 students are also creating their own videos in their studies.

Year 6 students use iPads to create videos demonstrating their understanding of the Business and Economics aspects of the HASS (Humanities and Social Science) curriculum. Students film, edit and present their videos.

As technology becomes further entwined in our daily lives, schools continue to search for opportunities to use technology in the classroom to further enhance teaching, and keep up with their students interest in new learning devices.

Prep students this term enjoyed a Prep Under the Stars evening on the School’s oval with their fellow students and families. The evening focused on time and constellations, an integral part of their Science studies.

Families brought their own picnic and rugs and when the moon and stars appeared the students used iPads, phones and tables with a special app to find the constellations in the sky. In Year 4, students are calculating solutions for money word problems.

The students access the questions, which have been distributed by the teacher, via OneNote on their individual class laptop.

OneNote is a Year 4 everyday learning platform whether it be whole class explicit teaching, small group activities or independent learning. The beauty of OneNote is that students can be given differentiated tasks, or if given the same task, can move at their own pace.

The days of blackboards and chalk in the Primary classrooms have become today's history lesson.
Traditional learning tools such as whiteboards and an exercise book remain part of the learning, but can work in conjunction with digital technologies.


Technology has become an integral part of all trades, enabling far more efficient production processes, enhancing global connectivity and driving economic growth. Technologically advanced tools, machinery, communication processes the ability to instantly access information on materials, machinery use, ordering, delivery and tracking has transformed the way in which trades operate and can deliver results.

With technology’s ever-evolving landscape, the trade sector continues to embrace innovation, opening up new avenues for growth and propelling the global economy forward.

Technology in schools has also undergone a remarkable transformation over recent years, reshaping the landscape of education.

In today’s digital age, school students are progressively leveraging technology to

assist them in exploring and preparing for a trade career when they leave secondary education.

Technology has provided students with a wealth of resources and opportunities to gain knowledge and practical skills in their chosen trade field. Online platforms and websites offer comprehensive guides, tutorials and virtual workshops, allowing students to learn and practice trade-related tasks at their own pace.

Interactive simulations and virtual reality applications provide a handson experience, enabling students to understand the intricacies of various trades and develop essential skills in a managed, safe manner. Additionally, social media platforms and online communities connect learners with industry professionals, allowing them to seek guidance, ask questions, and gain insights into different trade pathways.

The trade sector has witnessed an astonishing surge in the utilisation of technology over the past 20 years, revolutionising the way businesses operate, recruit and train their staff.

“I used the CNC Plasma to make my personalised firepit this year. To do this by hand with the oxy plant and an angle grinder would have taken me a long time. My CAD drawing was saved as a .dxf file, exported to the plasma then cut from 3mm mild steel, all within a lesson. Technologies in the trades saves so much time and money.”

Clay Goodwin. Year 12 student studying Certificate II in Engineering Pathways, Certificate III in Agriculture and undertaking a school-based apprenticeship in Certificate III in Mobile Plant Technology.

Technology also plays a crucial role in research and exploration, as students can access online databases, industryspecific forums, and digital libraries to gather information about different trades and understand the latest trends and advancements.

By embracing technology as a tool, RGS students can enhance their understanding, build relevant skills and lay a solid foundation for a successful future in a trade.

Technology is not just about sitting in front of a computer working on apps, programmes and coding. Computer numerical controlled plasma cutters, laser cutter/engravers and 3-dimensional CNC router machines are used throughout work programs in the RGS Design Technologies department as students interact with these platforms to realise their tasks.

We have moved from the early 2000s, when computer labs were uncommon, to the present day, where powerful, portable digital devices are everywhere, the integration of technology has revolutionised teaching and learning.

The advent of the internet was a revolutionary paradigm, instantly linking the world and currently a vast number of online platforms are facilitating collaborative education on a global scale. Learners may now connect, communicate and engage with educators, peers and professionals across the globe. The world of work is underpinned by problem solving and technology has become an absolute necessity for any business to thrive.

I have a 27-year trade history in boilermaking and maintenance coordination with the Bundaberg Sugar Company. I began my teaching career in 2006 and relocated from Bundaberg to The Rockhampton Grammar School in 2013. Whilst I was studying the teaching degree, desktop computers and interactive whiteboards were the only ICT tools for instruction and research. Laptops, tablets, and smartphones are now standard communication devices across all sectors and have exponentially increased productivity, with Artificial Intelligence software leading the way as businesses compete to increase their market share. Virtual classrooms, online assignments, and e-learning platforms are widely used in universities, providing flexible and personalised learning experiences to cater for learners’ needs. Current trades cannot do without quality electronic communication

“We get to use various CNC machines at school like the plasma and laser which is great. Angle grinders, pneumatic tools, the oxy plant and welders have been around for a long time but are still viewed as current technologies to increase productivity and we have to be competent in using this equipment to be better prepared for our future jobs. The various technologies we use in the VET courses help us to be more productive”.

and control devices for job efficiency and staff effectiveness, therefore students looking toward a hands-on practical career will benefit from having capabilities in various technologies to assist their transition into the workforce.

At The Rockhampton Grammar School, students are provided with a quality laptop with excellent processing capabilities that can access files and resources from home and interface with all necessary programs and platforms they interact with at school. The availability of new technologies complements their learning as students now have instant access to a vast array of information and resources when undertaking their studies.

As technology continues to advance at a rapid pace, it holds the promise of further enhancing education and preparing our students for the challenges they will face and conquer in the future.

Chloe Wyatt. Year 11 Certificate II in Engineering Pathways and Certificate III in Agriculture student.
By embracing technology as a tool, RGS students can enhance their understanding, build relevant skills and lay a solid foundation for a successful future in a trade.


Susan McLean

Susan McLean returned to The Rockhampton Grammar School in May to talk with both students, from Year 5 to Year 12, and parents about the importance of your digital footprint and being brave enough to set the boundaries to better help and protect your family and friends.

Australia’s foremost expert in the area of cyber safety and was a member of Victoria Police for 27 years. Widely known as the ‘cyber cop’ she was the first Victoria Police Officer appointed to a position involving cyber safety and young people. In 2003 she was the Victoria Police Region Four Youth Officer of the Year. She has also been awarded The National Medal and the Victoria Police Service Medal and 2nd Clasp, and the National Police Medal.

“You don’t parent online and offline,’’ Susan McLean said.

“It’s about educating parents about the reality of the digital world – not their perception of it, not their experience with it, because that would be different. This is what will be confronting your children.

“Kids are good at following school rules, by in large, following the rules at home, by in large, following the laws in the community, by in large.

“When it comes to the internet that goes out the window. There’s an assumption it’s different. And it’s not. My kids are safe online. That random person you are trying to keep your child away from on the street corner goes home and uses the internet. That’s where they will find your child. Not on the street corner.”

Susan said there is no discussion around social media until your child is 13-years-old.

Each social media site and app has its own criteria for minimum age requirements. Most require users to be at least 13 years of age before they can register, although some sites are created especially for children under 13

“You don’t have your child lie to go somewhere they shouldn’t be that is a known place of risk,’’ said Susan, advice she also offers to those parents and older siblings who are lying for a younger family member to access social media.

“How do you justify that in your brain. I’m happy to put my little kid somewhere they shouldn’t be and I’m going to help them lie to get there, because you’re not going to do that anywhere else in their life.”

Susan said the earlier you start with the good habits the better the outcome will be.

“As much as they say bad habits are hard to break, good habits are hard to break too,’’ Susan said.

Susan said most children understand rules.

“When I speak to the primary children we talk about the rules and why we have them. Rules keep them safe and you can follow them,’’ Susan said.

Susan said parents could feel unsure, scared, they believe their child, they don’t want their child to miss out.

“You are setting your child up for failure if you don’t teach them to follow the rules,’’ Susan said.

“Mixed messages with kids are a recipe for disaster. They need clear and consistent messages. No where else in their life will they lie to be somewhere they shouldn’t be. They might try but you won’t endorse that.

“Technology is part and parcel of everyone’s life and it’s a good part. I wouldn’t want to go back to not having it because there are so many benefits. As a society across the board we’re not there yet as far as understanding the danger.”

Susan said “talk early, talk often”.

“The earlier you start the better. And that’s anything to do with parenting. If you try to change the rules with an 18-year-old it’s probably not going to work. It’s never too late to start. How successful you will be if you start later is debatable.

“You’ll never forgive yourself if there’s something you could have done that you didn’t do and it’s ended poorly.

“I don’t want you to be the parents with regrets. Have a crack at doing it. Like anything you teach children from a young age – say please and thank you, use your

When parents were growing up they were told by their parents, not to talk to strangers. The same concept exists today but now it's also in a digital place.

knife and fork. You work on that, you don’t leave it and hope for the best.”

Susan also asks parents to remind themselves to be good role models with technology. Don’t say no phones at the table when you, as a parent, are sitting there with your phone.

“Don’t give in and stay strong. Kids don’t need a 40-year-old best friend.”

Mobile Phones in Schools

Mobile phones are common place in today’s world, but where is their place in the school system?

In the debate of mobile phones at school, Susan McLean is a definite NO!

“Every other state in Australia has a total mobile phone ban, and now there’s some push in Queensland to ask why not here?” Susan said.

“At any school, anywhere in Australia, there’s a big sign – all visitors must report to the office. Because you don’t want strangers on school grounds,’’ Susan said.


• Get devices out of bedrooms and bathrooms. No matter how good a parent you are, you can’t supervise in a bedroom and a bathroom. If your child complains that they like to listen to music in the shower, buy them a Bluetooth speaker, keep the phone in the kitchen. If your child complains that their phone is their alarm clock, head into Kmart and purchase a clock radio.

• Have a set of rules, you have rules about acceptable behavior in real life. Make sure those rules extend online. So an online family contract about expectations of use is important.

• Know your children’s passcodes and passwords. That is not invading their privacy, that’s being a parent.

“What about all the random strangers on school grounds through student mobile phones you are allowing them to use. That’s a huge issue.”

Susan said we need to educate students to use mobile phones responsibly, but that doesn’t mean having your phone unsupervised all day.

“Kids need to understand there’s a time and a place for using mobile phones,’’ Susan said.

“In many workplaces you can’t touch your phone. If you’ve had six years of fiddling on your phone when it suits you, you haven’t been an effective worker.

“There’s also issues with over stimulated brains. You need some time away from your screens, everyone needs that. Kids don’t need mobile phones. There’s a big difference between need and want. If you need to contact your child you contact the school to deliver a message to them.

“Parents will say take your phone in case you need them. Don’t worry about the rules. Phones are handy, I missed the bus, sports training cancelled. Handy, not a safety device to keep your child safe.”

Susan asks parents to take a step back and make an assessment. She encourages the School community to work together in the same direction.

“We (parents) have to set the tone and expectation. Schools can’t do it alone, they need to be supported by their parents,’’ Susan said.

Susan worked with leading Australian psychologist, and author, Dr Michael Carr-Gregg during a New South Wales Government review into mobile phones in schools three years ago.

“We spoke to hundreds of people. We spoke to kids, parents, teachers, principals. Not one person where a phone had been removed from a school environment said that was a poor choice,’’ Susan said.

“They all said ‘we wish we had done that earlier’. The change in the ability of the kids to concentrate, the change in the interaction in the playground was phenomenal.”

Make sure that you can, if necessary, get into their accounts if something has gone wrong.

• Talk early. Talk often. The earlier you start, the better. But it is never too late to start. Let your children know that no matter what they can come to you.

• Use some sort of filtering. Please understand the Internet is a very adult world. It does not come segmented into age appropriate areas, so you need some sort of filtering to help make sure that your children are not exposed to inappropriate, explicit or illegal content.

• Learn to say no. It’s a very important word, and it’s one, sadly, that a lot of parents don’t use. They’re too worried about upsetting their child or having their child not like them. It’s not your job to be liked by your children. Your children will love and respect you for saying, no.

• Don’t try and be your child’s best friend. That will end with disaster.

• Learn about the apps that they use, be there with them, download them, look at them, play with them. Have an

appreciation of what the app is, what it does, and how to best protect your children when they use those apps.

• Use security and privacy settings. Some apps have really good privacy and security, some not so. But if you’re not using them, it’s like the bike helmet. If it’s not on your head when you fall off, it’s not going to protect you.

• Make sure that you limit their online communications to people they know and trust in real life. This isn’t going to remove risk, but it’s going to reduce risk. So unless I know them in real life and I mean really know them, not a friend of a friend. They shouldn’t be hanging out with them online.

• Know where your child is online, just as the same as would in the real world. Know where they’re going, know what they’re doing. and make sure you regularly check in with them. Do not be afraid of technology. It’s not going to harm you if you use it well.

www.cybersafetysolutions.com. au/top-tips/


RGS Capricornus Quarterly Digital Parenting is published by:

Archer Street

Rockhampton QLD 4700, Australia


(+61) 7 4936 0600

ISSN 1839-4663

CRICOS Number 00507F

ABN: 71 055 702 035

The Rockhampton Grammar School
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