What is an Acceptable Use Policy?
An acceptable use policy (AUP) “outlines, in writing, how a school or district expects its community members to behave with technology.” (“1-1 Essentials”) It is common for schools and districts to outline both acceptable and unacceptable use, being careful not to create a negative tone by only listing the dont’s. Encounters with inappropriate material, digital citizenship, network fraud and protecting personal information are just a few of the many topics that should be included in a comprehensive AUP.
Creating the AUP is only the jumping off point. Using the policy to teach students appropriate and responsible online behavior is the next crucial step. Depending on the age and maturity level of students, this conversation will look and sound different. In the 12 technology classes I teach, we learn, review and sign the AUP before we access the internet or any of the school’s technology tools. The same AUP is used for students K-6, but the explanation and discussion of the AUP is simplified depending on the age of the students. At the end of our discussions and lessons, all students sign the AUP.
After creating and teaching the AUP, the next part of successful implementation is follow through. The folks at Common Sense Media remind us that “an acceptable use policy is only as strong as your commitment to enforce it.” (“1-1 Essentials”) Therefore, someone, or a group of people, should be appointed to enforce the consequences set forth in the policy. Let students know they are being monitored and then apply consequences as necessary.
As the use of the internet and technology tools are implemented in education, we are faced with a difficult challenge as dictated by our friends at Common Sense Media. “Today’s educators have the tough job of maintaining the delicate balance of protecting students while providing access to the digital world. Educators need to be comprehensive yet not limiting when creating a stimulating but safe learning environment. An AUP is a first step in framing these opportunities.” (“1-1 Essentials”)
What Should be Included in an AUP?
“The Acceptable Use Policy for Internet use is one of the most important documents a school will produce.” (“Getting Started”) With this in mind, here are some common elements of Acceptable Use Policies:
1-to-1 Essentials - Acceptable Use Policies. (n.d.). Retrieved February 23, 2017, from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/1to1/aups
Why Have a Technology Policy in Your School or Library? | Librarians. (n.d.). Retrieved February 24, 2017, from http://www.scholastic.com/librarians/tech/techpolicy.htm
Education World: Getting Started on the Internet: Acceptable Use Policies. (n.d.). Retrieved February 24, 2017, from http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/curr093.shtml
Links to Acceptable Use Policies
1. Compass Public Charter School
2. West Ada
3. North Star Charter School
4. Liberty Charter School