Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Acceptable Use Policies

According to the National Education Association, each school district should have an Acceptable Use Policy that includes these six elements: Preamble, Definition Section, Policy Statement, Acceptable Uses Sections, Unacceptable Uses Section, and Violations/sanctions Section. This week, I took some time to locate my school district's Appropriate Use of Technology Resources for Students, also known as, Student Internet Use Agreement. Below is a link of the agreement:

Student Internet Use Agreement

The district has one policy/agreement that is used by all schools. This allows the technology team at the district offices keep consistency among all schools. Each student and parent/guardian is required to read the policy and sign it electronically through his/her Infinite Campus Portal every school year. The students are NOT allowed to use the school's computer network until this is done. By comparing our district user agreement to the National Education Association's Acceptable Use Policies (AUP) six elements, it seems that our district has created an effective AUP.

My district's user agreement has nine sections. Within in these nine sections, each of the NEA's six elements are addressed as well as a little more definition. Although the sections are not exactly written with the six required elements at the top of each section, it is easy to find them within the nine sections of the user agreement.  The first section, Introduction, can be considered the Preamble. It explains the use of technology is important to enhance the students' education and provide resources that will allow students to become successful adults. It also states that this agreement is in place to ensure appropriate use with the school, district, state, and federal law.  The preamble as well as the definition section continues within the second section, Using the Internets and Communications Systems. Within this second section, the school district included the code of conduct, key terms and definitions, and the endorsement of educational value in technology.

The third element, Policy Section, is also expressed in Using the Internet and Communications Systems. This sections provides examples of computer services as well as what is constituted as acceptable and unacceptable technology resources. The district also informs the parents and students that using the school's access is a privilege, not a right, so it is vital for the students to follow appropriate conduct. If they don't, there are consequences.

The fourth and fifth element, Acceptable Uses Section and Unacceptable Uses Section is the third section of the agreement, Proper and Acceptable Use of all Technology Resources. This section provides specific examples activities that are permitted and encouraged as well as specific activities that are NOT permitted. These two elements are also linked to the fourth and fifth sections, User Security and Vandalism. These two sections provide a little more explanation about not sharing student logins as well as damage to hardware, software, operating systems, or data.

The final element, Violations/Sanctions Section, is addressed in the final two sections of the agreement, Reliability and Limitation of Liability and Parent Responsibility - Notification of Student Internet Use. These two sections inform users that the district is not responsible for any damages suffered by the student such as loss of data and service interruptions. In addition, parents are responsible to provide digital citizenship guidance outside of school. Specifics about consequences to violations are in the second section of the agreement.

Overall, the school's Appropriate Use of Technology Resources for Students seems to address all six elements required by the National Education Association. Some of the information could be a little better placed in accordance to the required elements; however, it seems to be a thorough and effective AUP. If I were to personally write an AUP for my own classroom, I may include some different things that my district does not address, but that information is for another blog post....

As a side note, I took a little extra time to create a wordle of my district's user agreement.
Wordle of Student User Agreement
This wordle definitly provided some insight as to what my district finds to be the most important. I encourage you to do the same with your own district's AUP. It may be quite insightful to use as well.

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