What is an Acceptable Use Policy?
A written policy that outlines how a school and/or district expects its users(students, staff, parents etc.) to behave with technology. Generally, schools require that the policy be signed individually by all possible users.
Why do schools need an Acceptable Use Policy?
The primary purpose of an Acceptable Use Policy is to protect students. It lays out the rules for using the network. Most often these rules have to do with leading students away from possible inappropriate language, pornography, and other sites that the Administration deems offensive. However, there are also rules in place to protect the network from the students. The policy should lay out these rules, and the consequences for breaking them.
What should be covered by the policy?
That’s up to each school or district. If you have had specific issues in the past, you’ll want to make sure that rules to cover them are in place. Here are some general topics that we suggest:
Acceptable and Prohibited Uses of the Network:
Basically the do’s and don’t of using the network. A few examples to consider:
Misuse of Passwords: Theft, or sharing one’s own password
Any Illegal Activity(hacking, torrenting, theft)
Cyber bullying (Could also be it’s own separate section)
Social Media: What sites can and can’t they use
Network Access: When and where it is acceptable to be using the network
This is where you should cover things like unwanted contact, inappropriate contact, and how to know if a site is safe to share information on.
Filtering and Monitoring:
Best to let them know up front that you are doing this.
Copyright and Ownership of Work:
Students may not copy, download or share any type of copyrighted materials without the owner’s express permission. This one should walk hand in hand with your plagiarism policy.
If your students have been provided with a mobile device like a laptop or tablet, you want to lay out the rules you have in place in regards to what they’re allowed to have on those devices.
Consequences for breaking any rules found on the Acceptable Use Policy
If you Google “Acceptable Use Policy”, you’ll get a range of different and helpful examples. Here is a link for the California Teachers Association Acceptable Use Policy.
A HUGE point to remember is that Technology changes quickly. You should have a committee to review and update your Acceptable Use Policy regularly.