Friday, August 30, 2013

AUPs Why not Curriculum

Acceptable Use Policies (AUPs) are the topic of school technology meetings, staff meetings and school board meetings everywhere in the US. Everyone is trying to make the best list of dos and don'ts for the use of technology in schools. These rules are ostensibly going to keep our computers in running order, our children safe, and our school boards free from law suits. I have attended many of these meetings and read the yearly cycle of discussion posts about building a better AUP.

What is missing from the educational discussions is teaching and learning. These rules can only make sense in the context of digital citizenship, a component of our curriculum that rarely receives the attention that our AUPs do.

How many of our students, parents or even teachers

  • understand and have experienced the benefits and disadvantages of communicating with people from around the world through the internet -  if you haven't enjoyed its benefits and suffered its pitfalls the rules about online privacy and bullying are disconnected from reality.
  • understand the benefits and disadvantages of sharing our work on the internet - if you haven't thought deeply about that the rule to not "stealing" digital objects has little meaning.
  • have experienced writing or creating (a website, song or movie) collaboratively - will not understand the harm done when changing, damaging or insulting others' work.
It is time to embrace - not just digital devices - the digital experience in education. Instead of focusing on controlling digital behavior, we need to become digital citizens, with the knowledge and experience to help our students navigate the complexity of citizenship.


Below are the user responsibilities and administrative measures from a typical AUP (quoted from Vermont School Board Association)

All users of District electronic resources are expected to act in a responsible, ethical and legal 
manner. Specifically, the following uses are prohibited:

1. Commercial or for-profit uses. 
2. Product advertisement or political lobbying. 
3. Bullying or harassment
4. Offensive or inflammatory communication, including hate mail, discriminatory remarks 
or “sexting.”. Unauthorized or illegal installation, distribution, reproduction or use of copyrighted 
6. Accessing sending, receiving, transferring, viewing sharing or downloading obscene, 
pornographic, lewd or otherwise illegal materials, images or photographs. 
7. Inappropriate language or profanity.
8. Impersonation of another user. 
9. Loading or using unauthorized games, programs, files or other electronic media. 
10. Disabling or bypassing the Internet blocking/filtering software without authorization. 
11. Accessing, sending, receiving, transferring, viewing, sharing or downloading confidential 
information without authorization.

... The administrative procedures developed under this policy shall include Internet 
safety measures that provide for the monitoring of online activities by minors and address the 
1. Control of access by minors to inappropriate matter on the Internet and World Wide 
2. Safety and security of minors when using electronic mail, chat rooms, and other forms of 
direct electronic communications. 
3. Prevention of unauthorized online access by minors, including “hacking” and other 
unlawful activities. 
4. Unauthorized disclosure, use, dissemination of personal information regarding minors. 
5. Restriction of minors’ access to materials harmful to them.

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