Acceptable Use Policies

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)

Ulysses S. Grant High School

Upland High School

St. Vincent- St. Mary High School

References

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.

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4 thoughts on “Acceptable Use Policies

  1. Your blog brought up an interesting point that I made in my blog–that people don’t read AUPs. Instead, they see it as something to check off their list. The fact that parents and students need to go find the AUPs at your school further proves their ineffectiveness. It makes me wonder if students’ lack of knowledge of their school’s AUPs is this why issues like cyber-bullying and privacy continue to run rampant in schools? I suspect, however, that this is only a factor; As stated by Adams (2008), “With the increasing use of social networking sites and blogs, the amount of cyber-bullying has risen, and districts should make sure that students and staff are educated about its negative effects. The AUPs should state that cyber-bullying will not be tolerated when using the district’s network”. We need AUPs, but we need to make them important. As Roblyer (2016) suggested, we should teach our students about these policies through deliberate activities. This would be a way to enhance their digital citizenship, especially in students’ early interactions with technology.

    I also thought it was interesting how you mentioned the fact that one of the schools included netiquette in their policy because perhaps the other thing we really need to look into is our students’ level of digital citizenship and how we can enhance it to assure students’ safety, but still foster their digital Independence. I know it’s a fine line, but I think we should start there.

    Thank you for sharing,

    References
    Adams, H. R. (2008). Dusting Off the Acceptable Use Policy (AUP). (cover story). School Library Media Activities Monthly, 25(4), 56.

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  2. You stated the following, “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.” Do you really think that AUPs protect students? I stated in my blog that I feel AUP are really more to protect the institution rather than the student. For example, if a kid gets in trouble for accessing pornographic on a district computer, the district is protected because the kid and his parents signed the AUP. Although AUPs are necessary, I feel that they in no way keep kids from getting into trouble. Kids are kids and they will find ways to get in trouble regardless of what they sign or say they won’t do.

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  3. Hi Brittni. I think you bring up a good point when you ask the question “How can we protect our students and ourselves from these issues?”. The issue of protecting the students seems like it has been covered a lot this week, but I wouldn’t say the same about the issue of protecting ourselves. Not only do we need to worry about being “liable” as an institution when students use district technology to do something inappropriate (like in the example from Matthew’s comment, above)… But we also have to protect ourselves, as teachers, from doing something with technology that could be subject to question. With work-issued technology going home, personal devices coming to work, employees on social media, etc., it only seems fair that ALL workplaces come up with detailed AUPs. I can think of several national news stories from the last year or so, where employees were fired or otherwise punished for using technology inappropriately. In some cases, the mis-use was obvious, and in most, it seemed that the employees had, at least, made bad decisions. But sometimes it seems very unfair that supervisors, in the absence of written policies, can fire employees for their online presence, for their (legal) use of technology on their own time, or for (legal, private) things they have on their phones. I think that this is something all workplaces need to look at, and that schools, especially, need to formally present their expectations for employees.

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  4. Great post! I love the Internet and using it in my classroom but I agree that there are definitely some risks and disadvantages to having this at our fingertips. When trying to find my Acceptable Use Policy for my school, it was so hard to find. I ended up finding it on our employee intranet. I believe that we need to make it available to our parents and students other than in the students handbook, which the majority of them NEVER read. We are actually having a “Family Night” this year to go over important things in the handbook and a few other “training” activities for the parents, maybe the AUP should be added to the list.

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