An acceptable use policy generally pertains to the internet or data system and outlines the dos and don’ts of use. For example, the Idaho State Department of Education has an Acceptable Use Policy for Schoolnet and ISEE, the state longitudinal data system. It outlines what a teacher, school, district, etc. can and can’t do with the information contained in the database.
According to Idaho Code 33-132, Local School Boards- Internet Use Policy Required, the following provisions must be addressed in a school’s acceptable use policy in regards to the Internet and technology:
- Prohibit and prevent the use of school computers and other school owned technology-related services from sending, receiving, viewing or downloading materials that are deemed to be harmful to minors, as defined by section 18-1514, Idaho Code; and
- Provide for the selection of technology for the local district’s computers to filter or block internet access to obscene materials, materials harmful to minors and materials that depict the sexual exploitation of a minor, as defined in chapter 15, title 18, Idaho Code; and
- Establish appropriate disciplinary measures to be taken against persons violating the policy provided for in this section; and
- Include a component of internet safety for students that is integrated into the district’s instructional program; and
- Inform the public that administrative procedures have been adopted to enforce the policy provided for in this section and to handle complaints about such enforcement, and that such procedures are available for review at the district office.
My understanding of an AUP in a school setting is that it protects the school and the student in the case that something goes wrong or someone isn’t following the guidelines. It lets the user know what they are able to do and not do with the access to the Internet and technology and what the consequence will be if the policy is not followed. Most school districts have a policy that covers all of the schools in their district.
As I was researching acceptable use, I found a short mention in a blog about how education should move away from acceptable use and move towards a responsible use policy. I couldn’t access the entire article but it made me think about what the difference could be. I thought by outlining what a users responsibilities are, you are putting the power and expectations in the hands of the user. It makes it a proactive policy rather than a reactionary policy. For many, this is more powerful. With the movement towards 1:1 devices and BYOD, a responsible use policy might be more beneficial. It is hard to outline all the don’ts when technology is constantly changing. Students have access to all sorts of devices on their own. Schools are opening up their Wi-Fi to users outside of the staff. A student can use their phone to become their own “hotspot.” By teaching responsibility, it better address the situations that we might not even think of as policy makers, teachers, etc.
Education needs to take a look at the current acceptable use policies and make sure they address the current needs and concerns of the educational system. Even three years ago, the use of a cell phone as a learning tool was unheard of. Times are changing quickly, yet our policies remain outdated.
Most of the examples that I looked at contained similar information. Weber School District has separate policies depending on the age of the student. I tried to find specific schools that I’ve attended or know someone at and in some instances the student handbook would reference the policy but the policy wasn’t linked. Below are the links of sample AUP policies.