An Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) is a document constructed by an institution that details the manner in which it would like its members to use technology including the internet. Many schools and districts have Acceptable Use Policies that address both acceptable and unacceptable behaviors for students, faculty, and staff when using technology and the internet. Prohibited behaviors usually include plagiarism, piracy, cyberbullying, and visiting sites deemed inappropriate by the school. Acceptable behaviors include being a positive digital citizen, having proper netiquette, and using the internet properly for school purposes (“1-1 Essentials-Acceptable Use Policies”, n.d).
A 2009 article by Education World titled “Getting Started on the Internet: Developing an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP),” states that an Acceptable Use Policy should contain six key elements. They are “a preamble, a definition section, a policy statement, an acceptable uses section, an unacceptable uses section, and a violations/sanctions section.” The article goes on to explain each section. The preamble details why the policy was created and the goals of the policy. Key words in the policy are explained in the definition section. This ensures that everyone reading the policy understands the terminology. The policy statement lists what computer, mobile device, and internet services are covered and when the students can use those services. The acceptable use section breaks down the appropriate use of school technology and the internet. The unacceptable uses portion must give specific examples of inappropriate student use. Finally, in the violations/sanctions section students learn how to report violations and the consequences they will receive should they violate the policy.
All schools and districts are different and create Acceptable Use Policies that are relevant to their situation. The following are excellent examples of Acceptable Use Policies for elementary schools in the United States:
- Saugatuck Elementary School: http://ses.westport.k12.ct.us/general/acceptable-use-policy
- Cincinnati Public Schools: http://www.cps-k12.org/schools/policies-guidelines/internet-use
- Cannon Falls Area Schools: http://www.cannonfallsschools.com/departments/technology/acceptable_use_policy
- Fairfax County Schools: https://www.fcps.edu/about-fcps/policies-regulations-and-notices/student-rights-and-responsibilities
I feel that my school’s Acceptable Use Policy leaves a lot to be desired. After reading about Acceptable Use Policies and viewing examples from other schools, I would like to initiate a conversation with my principal about revising our policy to make it more detailed and transparent for our faculty, staff, parents, and students. Our current AUP can be seen by clicking on the following:acceptable-use-policy
We also have a 1:1 iPad program for our sixth through eighth grade students at our school. The following document is sent home with the students and is signed by the students and parents: ipad-contract-2014. I feel that this document is a better example of an Acceptable Use Policy because it incorporates the suggested sections that I mentioned above. After reviewing both of our school’s policies, I think that the policy we have in place for the iPads should be edited to include all types of technology and the internet and used as the AUP for all our students in grades kindergarten through eighth grade. Even though our kindergarten through fifth grade students are not 1:1, they do have access to iPads in the classroom and use our school computer lab.
As educators it is important for schools to provide students with access to the digital world, yet we must do it in a way that protects our students. An AUP is the first step toward protecting our students as long as it is enforced and supported by all members of the school community.
1-to-1 essentials – Acceptable use policies. (n.d.). In commonsensemedia. Retrieved October 4, 2016, from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/1to1/aups
Getting started on the internet: Developing an acceptable use policy (aup). (2009). In education world. Retrieved October 4, 2016, from http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/curr093.shtml