Acceptable Use Policies

The purpose of an AUP, Acceptable Use Policy, is to inform the public what is considered appropriate and not appropriate in terms of technology and internet use. While there is not a correct or incorrect way of developing an AUP, there are some commonalities I found while reading various district AUPs. Common Sense Media has created useful guidelines and steps that districts can use to develop an effective AUP. This tool can be used in conjunction with researching what other districts have done to make a successful learning environment for their learners.

Most AUPs begin with a vision or mission statement, a summary of what the goals and benefits of technology use will be in the district. The vision statements I have read all set a positive tone for the users to understand this is an important privilege for end users to have in order to have a successful learning environment and develop essential skills for future experiences.

The next section either lists the actions that are acceptable, or not acceptable, when using a device or internet. In the AUP examples I have found, it was written differently in each case. Medford schools created three separate AUPs with age appropriate verbiage and topics. Each statement clearly states what they can and cannot do and gives examples of the action. Nueva School uses a Q & A format to discuss critical actions when using email, account information and laptops. Brownsburg School District includes a thorough description of topics such as policies, access, netiquette, and downloads to inform the user in more detail then lists acceptable and not acceptable actions. Either format can work for any district, but as a team it is critical to determine what would work best for your system. It is the content that is placed into this section that is most important so determining safe guidelines for all participants and consequences for violations should be a deep conversation for team members in development phase.

Other sections or topics that can be found in AUPs, and have a significant purpose, would be stating how it correlates with your established Code of Ethics or Code of Conduct. Also determine how the AUP procedures and guidelines align with other laws or existing policies in the state or nation. Common Sense Media gives a list of suggestion for topics that could be included in an AUP, or even student/faculty handbook, for awareness and understanding; use of network, internet safety, filtering and monitoring, copyright and ownership of work, network security and privacy, digital citizenship, and social media usage.

The final section of the AUP should be designated for individual signatures, whether it is faculty, staff, parents or student agreeing to the terms written.

My district has 2 separate forms for faculty/staff to sign and the students. As a faculty member, I was required to sign an AUP when I was first hired. Each year, we have a 13 minute video we are required to watch that discusses acceptable use. At the conclusion of that video, we click a button, electronically signing that we have watched and understand the content. Our students and parents sign a RUP, Responsible Use Procedure, through an online registration program each year, rather than a paper copy. The RUP is reviewed and revised each year if changes need to be made.

When I was a Technology and Learning Coach at a school one of my tasks in the beginning of the schools was to go into the 1:1 classrooms and discuss what the RUP said and what it meant for each section. I would give specific examples of what I had seen and experienced in my role with students their age. I thoroughly discussed the consequences for violating any procedure after they had signed the document. It was a great lesson to establish how they were held responsible for their technology use in our classrooms and school. If a violation was found I, and administration, was able to return to this signed document and discuss the event in detail with the student and parent.

Richland School District 2 Staff AUP

Richland School District 2 Student RUP

Brownsburg k12 AUP

medfordpublicschools AUP

Nueva Schools

greenville k12 AUP

Common sense media