The internet has brought about many advantages, but with those advantages have also come some risks and disadvantages. As we incorporate the internet into educational institutions, it is important that we identify these potential issues and take measures to inform and protect our students. Roblyer identified several of these potential issues that can arise from the internet. They include accessing sites with inappropriate materials, online predators, privacy issues, cyberbullying, viruses and hacking, fraud, online plagiarism, and online piracy (2016, p. 174-177). In addition, we must also worry about the digital footprint our students are leaving and their online behavior and citizenship. This list can seem extremely overwhelming. How can we protect our students and ourselves from these issues? One possible answer is through acceptable use policies.
An acceptable use policy is a set of rules that restrict the way in which the internet or network is used and provides guideline for how it should be used. Many school districts have their students, parents, and staff sign an acceptable use agreement. It is important for schools to have such a policy in place so students and staff members understand what acceptable behavior regarding the school network is and what the consequences are if they choose to engage in unacceptable behavior.
As I looked over the policy for my own school and compared it to that of other schools, it was interesting to see how different each policy could be. My high school has a fairly detailed plan that covers many of the issues mentioned above, but it has one major weakness. The school district does not provide a copy of the plan to students and their parents, and it is not easy to find on the district website. The paper they ask students and parents to sign states that they agree to follow the policy, but if they want to actually read the policy, they must find it on their own. Ulysses S. Grant High School in California has their policy posted online where it is easy to find, but it is not very extensive. The other two plans I found were from Upland High School and St. Vincent- St. Mary High School. Both of these plans were very well written and covered nearly all potential issues. Upland High School even included some Netiquette tips for students to follow. You can find the links for each of these plans below.
Technology is ever changing, so our policies regarding technology must change as well. It is important for policy makers to ” take proactive measures to ensure that the rights and responsibilities of all entities involved, from the school district to the student, are adequately addressed and reassessed on a regular basis” (Flowers & Rakes, 2000).
Acceptable Use Policies
Minico High School (Begins on page 18)
Flowers, B. F., & Rakes, G. C. (2000). Analyses of Acceptable Use Policies Regarding the Internet in Selected K-12 Schools.Journal Of Research On Computing In Education, 32(3), 351.
Roblyer, M. D. (2016). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (7th ed.). Massachusetts: Pearson.