According to Common Sense Education, an acceptable use policy (AUP) is “a policy that outlines, in writing, how a school or district expects its community members to behave with technology. Similar to a Terms of Service document, an AUP should define publicly what is deemed acceptable behavior from users of hardware and information systems such as the Internet and any applicable networks.” Most schools and/or districts now have AUPs in place for their students and faculty members as well. Educators have a responsibility to protect their students online, and having a comprehensive AUP can help clearly delineate expectations and boundaries for safe online behavior.
Strong acceptable use policies should include a rationale of the intent for internet use, clearly defined expectations of both what students should and should not do with technology, logical consequences for when those expectations are not followed, and any other pertinent legal information. I believe that AUPs should be written in language that is easily understood by students since they are the ones who are ultimately the technology users who need to understand what is expected of them. These documents should be signed by all stakeholders involved – teachers, students, and parents. Furthermore, I think that AUPs should be reviewed periodically with students; simply having them read and sign it once at the beginning of the year (or worse – some districts only require it to be signed once during the student’s entire career at the school!) is not enough. Just as we have classroom rules that are posted and referred to on an ongoing basis, students should be frequently reminded of acceptable use policy expectations.
Examples of AUPs:
Oakdale Joint Unified School District – This is my school district’s version of an AUP in which they have created an Network and Internet Use Agreement of which there is a section entitled AUP.
San Ramon Valley Unified School District – This is an example from a school district where I used to work. They have a section of their website (linked) that provides a bit of information about the AUP as well as the link to the formal document, a format that I think is a great idea.
Bellarmine Preparatory School – I thought it would be interesting to compare a private school’s AUP with public schools’. Turns out, they’re quite similar.
Santa Clara University – I received my bachelor’s degree from SCU so I read through their AUP. The language is different from that of the school districts’, but that’s to be expected because it is intended for an adult audience. The overall idea, however, is the same.
1-to-1 Essentials – Acceptable Use Policies | Common Sense Media. (n.d.). Retrieved October 11, 2015, from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/1to1/aups