Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) is a constitution between a school district and it’s participants. It should lay out a clear justification for the document itself. The AUP should define in understandable language the jargon that it will present. It is important that the document is in language that is clear to students and families. The AUP is not meant to be a trick. The AUP should clearly indicate the circumstances and uses for which the network is available. This is essentially, when, where, how, and why the network is available. Finally, it should also provide for the specific uses that are prohibited and how will violations be dealt with by administration (“Education World: Getting Started on the Internet: Acceptable Use Policies”).
Like a constitution between a government and it’s people, the most important element is buy-in from all sides. Otherwise, it will end up nothing more than a piece of paper. Do students and families fully understand the reason and regulations involved? Are staff and schools throughout the district uniformly enforcing the policies? From my experiences, it is used as nothing more than a safety net for schools. There is not time being spent explaining the details or rationale of the document. Most kids sign it without looking at it because to use the internet, it is required. It also seems to take the assumption that students will misuse the internet and that all polices have to be restrictive. Sadly, I think this is denying the students learning opportunities and access to an important wealth of information.
Can AUP be more than another list of things kids can’t do? Acceptable Use Policy should be a balance that school districts achieve between access and protection. Districts must protect themselves and their students, while still allowing access to the resources available. James Bosco, the principal investigator for Participatory Learning: Leadership and Policy, believes that the ideas of protection and access are not in direct conflict. He views two current models of practice. One that errs on the side of caution, the other believes that students learn best by being given the opportunity to learn responsible practice for themselves.(Bosco).
Here are four links to AUPs that area schools are currently using:
Bosco, J. (n.d.). Rethinking acceptable use policies to enable digital learning. Retrieved from http://www.cosn.org/Default.aspx?tabid=8139
Education World: Getting Started on the Internet: Acceptable Use Policies. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/curr093.shtml