Acceptable Use Policies

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:

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-2014I 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.  

References:
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

 

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Social Media Policies

My school has a pretty generic acceptable use policy that was probably created many years ago when we first started using computers in the classroom and our lab.  It does not include any guidelines regarding social media.  Currently, the students and parents sign our acceptable use policy when they first enroll in the school, and it is never re-visited.  Furthermore, we have separate guidelines that are sent home with our junior high students for our 1:1 iPad program.  I’d like for our school to have one acceptable use policy that covers all technology in our school.  It should be listed on our school website with our student handbook, and it should be posted in each of our classrooms. I’d like for the policy to be reviewed and discussed with the teachers and students at the beginning of every school year, and parents, students, and teachers should sign a form stating that they have read and understand the policy annually.    

While working on this document, I combined items from our current acceptable use policy and the policies sent home with our junior high students when they receive their iPads.  I also spent time searching on the internet for the acceptable use policies at other Catholic elementary schools including schools in my diocese.  It was very hard to find any acceptable use policies in my diocese so I branched out to the diocese just north of us, other dioceses in the United States, and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.  I specifically looked to include guidelines for the use of social media because our current acceptable use policy makes no mention of this topic.  

The document that I put together can be found here or by reading below:

Mary, Queen of Heaven School

USE OF TECHNOLOGY AND SOCIAL MEDIA

Technology is a valuable and real world educational tool.  Mary, Queen of Heaven School is committed to teaching its students, faculty, administrators, staff, and school community to work and to learn effectively with technology and to ensure responsible use of technology.

The internet is a powerful and resourceful tool that connects our students and staff with the rest of the world and vast amounts of information, both good and bad.  As an educational institution, we believe that our students need to learn how to use the internet appropriately.  

The policy outlined below applies to all technology use including but not limited to Internet use. The Acceptable Use Policy for Technology and Social Media applies to all students, faculty, administrators, staff, volunteers, or community members allowed access to school technology resources at Mary, Queen of Heaven.

Scope of Use

The digital world allows anytime, anywhere access. Uses mentioned in this policy apply to inside school use and may in certain instances apply to personal technology use and/or uses outside of school.  When personal outside use of technology causes significant disruption in school,  these activities may be viewed as a violation of the “Acceptable Use Policy” and may be subject to the disciplinary measure listed below. The types of electronic and digital communications referenced in this AUP include, but are not limited to, social networking sites, cell phones, digital cameras, text messaging, email, and chat rooms.

Responsibilities of User

Mary, Queen of Heaven School will make every effort to provide a safe environment for learning with technology including Internet filtering and safeguards. The students, faculty, administrators, staff, and school community are granted the privilege of using the computer hardware and software, and electronic communication tools including the Internet. With this privilege comes the responsibility for appropriate use.

The following are conditions for being a good digital citizen:

  • Respect for Self:
  • Users will select online names that are appropriate
  • Users will consider the information and images that are posted online before they are posted.
  • Respect Others:
  • Users will not use technologies to bully, tease, or harass other people
  • Protect Self and Others:
  • Users will protect themselves and others by reporting abuse and not forwarding inappropriate materials or communications.
  • Respect Intellectual Property:
  • Users will suitably cite any and all use of websites, books, media, etc.
  • Protect Intellectual Property:
  • Users will request to use the software and media others produce and protect license agreements for all software and resources.

Acceptable Use

  • No student will be allowed to use the school technology until he or she completes annual digital citizenship training.
  • All students will be actively supervised by a teacher, librarian/media specialist, designated school aide, or administrator when using online resources.
  • E-mail is restricted for use by junior high students, faculty, and staff. Student email addresses and passwords will be given to the school administrator and technology coordinator.
  • The use of the Internet will be consistent with the educational objectives of the school.
  • When teachers are using a specific website, they will preview it for content before allowing students to access the site.
  • General rules and policies found in the school handbook apply to all students using the internet.
  • No personal information (names, phone numbers, addresses, etc.) will be given out over the internet.
  • Pictures of minors may be posted on websites only with the parent’s permission and with minimal identification.  Minors should not be “tagged” or identified by name in the photograph.   
  • School social media sites will be controlled and monitored by at least two trained adults.  Parents must give consent before pictures of minors are posted.  Any information identifying minors is to be kept to a minimum.  
  • Electronic devices on school property used by students will be monitored by trained adults both while the student is using the device and by IT personnel who control access.

Unacceptable Uses

  • Use technology to harass, threaten, deceive, intimidate, offend, embarrass, or annoy any individual.
  • Post, publish, or display any defamatory, inaccurate, violent, abusive, profane or sexually oriented material.
  • Users must not use obscene, profane, lewd, vulgar, rude or threatening language.
  • Users must not knowingly or recklessly post false information about any persons, students, staff or any other organization.
  • Attempt to circumvent system security or use another individual’s password.
  • Deliberately visit a site known for unacceptable material or any material that is not in support of educational objectives.
  • Students must not access social networking sites or gaming sites, except for educational purposes under teacher direction.
  • Violate license agreements, or copy other protected media.
  • Use technology for any illegal activity.
  • Breach confidentiality obligations of school employees.
  • Harm the goodwill and reputation of the school in the community.
  • Transmit any material in violation of any local, federal and state laws. This includes, but is not limited to: copyrighted material, licensed material and threatening or obscene material.

Use of Social Media

  • When teachers and students use personal or social media sites such as, but not limited to Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube they may not mention members of the school community without their consent unless the subject is of public concern and the speech falls under applicable constitutional protections.
  • If you are approved to represent the school, unless you are specifically authorized to speak on behalf of the school as a spokesperson, you should state that the views expressed in your postings, etc. are your own. Stick with discussing school-related matters that are within your area of responsibility.
  • Be open about your affiliation with the school and the role/position you hold.
  • Parents must have access to everything provided to their children. For example, parents should be made aware of how social media are being used, be told how to access the sites, and be given the opportunity to be copied on all material sent to their children via social networking.  
  • Friending of current students by teachers and vice versa is forbidden on a teacher’s personal social networking site.
  • Personal posts must use appropriately respectful speech, and refrain from harassing, defamatory, abusive, discriminatory, threatening or other inappropriate communications.
  • Regardless of your privacy settings, assume that all of the information you have shared on your social network is public information.
  • Encourage positive, constructive discussion if allowed to use communicative or collaborative technologies
  • Be responsive to others when conversing online. Provide answers, thank people for their comments, and ask for further feedback, etc.
  • NEVER give out or transmit personal information of students, parents, or school employees. It is also recommended that the “no tagging” option be set for photographs on social networking sites.  
  • Review content on links first before sharing them on social network posts.   

Communications

Electronic and/or Digital communications with students should be conducted for educationally appropriate purposes and employ only school sanctioned means of communication.

The school sanctioned communications methods include:

  • Teacher school web pages, wiki or LMS site like, but not limited to, Ascend.
  • Teacher school email address.
  • Teacher school phone number.
  • Teacher created, educationally focused networking sites.
  • No employee or volunteer is permitted to text message any student and likewise no student is permitted to text message any employee or volunteer.

Electronic and Mobile Devices, Cell phones:

Cell phones or other electronic devices not part of the instructional program are not allowed in classrooms during the regular school day. Students are allowed to keep these devices in their lockers/designated area and must have them turned off. Special permission to carry the devices to and from class may be granted by the principal on a case-by-case basis.

Administrative Rights

The administration of Mary, Queen of Heaven School has the right to monitor both student and employee use of school computers and computer accessed content. Due to the evolving nature of technology, the administration reserves the right to amend or add to this policy at any time without notice.

Policy Violations

Violation of the above rules will be dealt with by the administration of the school. Violation of these rules may result in any or all of the following:

  • Loss of use of the school network, computers and software, iPads, including Internet access.
  • Issuance of referrals /detentions, if applicable.
  • Disciplinary action including, but not limited to, dismissal and/or legal action by the school, civil authorities, or other involved parties.
Resources:
Anderson, S. (2012, May 7). How to create social media guidelines for your school. In edutopia. Retrieved July 17, 2016, from http://www.edutopia.org/how-to-create-social-media-guidelines-school
Archdiocese of Cincinnati: Social media policy. (2010, May). Retrieved July 17, 2016, from http://www.catholiccincinnati.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/social_media_policy.pdf
Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth: Social media policy. (n.d.). Retrieved July 17, 2016, from http://fwdioc.org/diocese-fw-social-media-policy-english.pdf
Catholic Diocese of Trenton Office of Communications . (2015, November 17). The Catholic Diocese of Trenton social media policy and resource guide. Retrieved from http://www.dioceseoftrenton.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Diocese_of_Trenton_Social_Media_Policy.pdf
Diocese of Covington: Creating a safe environment, policies and procedures for addressing sexual misconduct. (2015, September). Retrieved July 17, 2016, from http://www.covdio.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Policy2015.pdf
Diocese of Salt Lake City Office of Safe Environment. (n.d.). Social media policy. In Social media policy. Retrieved July 17, 2016, from http://www.utahcatholicdiocese.org/images/safe%20environment/Social_Media_Policy.pdf
Mary, Queen of Heaven School. (n.d.). Student handbook. In Mary, Queen of Heaven School. Retrieved July 17, 2016, from http://www.mqhschool.com/images/school-information/StudentHandbook.pdf
Social media guidelines. (2014, June). In United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Retrieved July 17, 2016, from http://www.usccb.org/about/communications/social-media-guidelines.cfm
Wise, J. (n.d.). The ultimate list of social media policies for churches & ministries. In thinkdigital. Retrieved July 17, 2016, from http://justinwise.net/social-media-policies-churches-ministries/