This past week I studied school Acceptable Use Policies (AUP). An AUP is an agreement between students, parents and the school (or school district) which allows students to use the district’s network, hardware, and software. It explains to students and parents the potential benefits of appropriately used technology. Often an AUP includes basic Internet safety rules.
According to the National Education Association, an AUP should have six main elements: “a preamble, a definition section, a policy statement, an acceptable uses section, an unacceptable uses section, and a violation/sanctions section” (EducationWorld).
The preamble should explain the rationale behind using technology at school and set out basic expectations for student behavior. The definition section should define key terms in the policy. The policy statement should explain which technologies the policy covers and the circumstances in which students may use technology at school. The acceptable uses section outlines, specifically, appropriate uses of technology. The unacceptable uses section clearly outlines which behaviors are not allowed. It usually includes a list of what kinds of sites are not acceptable, what kind of communications are allowed, and what constitutes destructive or damaging uses of technology. The violations/sanctions section explains the consequences for using technology inappropriately.
It was interesting to read the differing viewpoints on what should be included in AUPs and how they should be drafted. Currently there is a movement toward more inclusive AUPs that allow social media and texting, and that teach students to regulate themselves. These AUPs include less “do nots” and more “dos”. The rationale behind this is that students must be taught to self-regulate. Otherwise, when we set them free on the Internet at age 18, they will not know how to self-regulate or how to deal with inappropriate content they encounter while on the Internet.
Since I teach at a public middle school, I have included examples of AUPs that would be appropriate in that setting. The first example is for the district where I currently teach. The last example is for the district where I grew up.
- Snowline Joint Unified School District AUP (Phelan, California)
- Siskyou Union High School District (Mt. Shast, California)
- East Lothian Schools (Scotland)
- Idaho Falls School District 91 http://www.d91.k12.id.us/documents/TUN_English.pdf
EducationWorld. Getting started on the Internet:developing an acceptable use policy. Retrieved from http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/curr093.shtml.