As technologies becomes common place in all educational environments and society in general, it is important to teach students/users what is acceptable and unacceptable practice. The first step in the formation of responsible users is an effective acceptable use policy. Simply put, an acceptable use policy (AUP)outlines how a school or school district expects its community to behave while using their networks and hardware (Common Sense Education, 2017). An AUP helps manage users behaviour and keep all users safe while online. In a world, where one's digital footprint is everlasting, these contracts are important in maintaining a positive online environment.
When developing an AUP, officials should include certain elements. According to Education World, AUP's should have a preamble where the importance and purpose of the document is discussed. There should also be a definition section where specific terminology is clarified. For example, what is considered a district piece of hardware, what is a network etc. There should be a policy statement that outlines the conditions students must abide by before they can use technology. Also, acceptable and unacceptable uses should be clearly outlined. For example, students may use resources that are connected to their curricula but may not use the district's wifi network to engage in abusive behaviour towards others. Finally, violations of policy and sanctions should be outlined as well.(Education World, 2017). The best AUPs incorporate what if scenarios in their creation (Michell, 2016). What if a student cyberbullies another? What if a student downloads something illegally? What if a staff member ignores copyright? These questions and many more emphasize the need for such policies to exist.
Here are some examples of Acceptable Use Policies. I have included my own district's policy which, as it turns out, is not a very good example of what an AUP should be.
Red Deer Public Schools- My own district's net user agreement with policy included. Looks like it needs an update. This document also addresses computer access in our district.
Calgary Board of Education- This is from the largest school district in Alberta.
Seattle Board of Education- From the home of Microsoft.
Credo Christian High School- This well worded policy is from a small high school outside of Vancouver, British Columbia
Common Sense Education. (n.d.). 1 to 1 essentials: Acceptable use policies. Retrieved from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/1to1/aups
Education World. (2009).Getting started on the Internet: Developing an acceptable use policy (AUP). Retrieved from: http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/curr093.shtml
Mitchell, B. (2016, September 16). Introduction to acceptable use policies (AUP). Retrieved from https://www.lifewire.com/acceptable-use-policy-aup-817563