Today, AUP’s are much more complex, and obviously, they should be because technology has advanced so rapidly and continues to do so at an alarming pace. Therefore, school districts need to constantly revise their AUP’s. For instance, when simple terms take on new meanings, changes have to be made to compensate.
For example, the Los Angeles Unified School District (Chandler, 2012) concretely defines its AUP as being “designed to prevent unauthorized access and other unlawful activities by users online, prevent unauthorized disclosure of or access to sensitive information, and to comply with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (“CIPA”). ” In addition, the document goes further to identify the “user” to include “anyone using the computers, Internet, email, chat rooms and other forms of direct electronic communications or equipment provided by the District (the “network.”) regardless of the physical location of the user. The AUP applies even when District provided equipment (laptops, tablets, etc.) is used off of District property.” (Chandler, 2012) The fact that a “user” has to be defined and analyzed in this context not only demonstrates the complexity of today’s technology, but it also mirrors the thought process that needs to go into authoring AUP’s. If these details are not addressed and put forth in writing, staff and students can discover loopholes, rendering the AUP’s purpose of protecting both students and staff useless.
In the district where I currently teach, the AUP is part of the student handbook. I think this is an ineffective outlet for the document; students simply do not take the time to read through their handbook because they are not held accountable for its contents unless an issue arises. For example, students do not realize that their online activities are monitored, and that the district can access their files at anytime. The AUP (“High school student-parent,” 2013) states, “District will use technology protection measures to block or filter, to the extent practicable, access of visual depictions that are obscene, pornographic, and harmful to minors over the network. The District reserves the right to monitor users’ online activities and to access, review, copy, and store or delete any electronic communication or files and disclose them to others as it deems necessary. Users should have no expectation of privacy regarding their use of District property, network and/or Internet access or files, including email.” If students were held accountable to know and understand the AUP; for example, if they were quizzed on it at the beginning of the school year, I think the document would be more effective. Not only would students review the material, they would be more likely to retain it, and in doing so, they also might take into account their online or network activity.
According to educationworld.com, “The National Education Association suggests that an effective AUP contain the following six key elements: a preamble, a definition section, a policy statement, an acceptable uses section, and a violations/sanctions section.” (“Education world: Getting,” 2013). An example of a school district that adheres to these elements is Clark County School District in Massachusetts. The AUP document for this district includes similar sub categories as mentioned on the educationworld.com website, including this section from its preamble: “Computer network resources, provided by the Clark County School District in partnership with the Clark County Public Education Foundation, enable communication with electronic communities around the world. These computer network resources include InterAct™, Internet, e-mail, mainframe, and all other Internet service providers such as America Online and CompuServe, when used in an educational setting. The use of these electronic resources shall be consistent with the purpose, mission, and goals of the Clark County School District and used only for educational purposes. The purpose in providing these services is to facilitate access to information and resources, promote educational excellence, and enhance communication between schools and the community” (Brookline Massachusetts 2013). Providing a solid definition and mission statement is essential is laying out the guidelines for students and teachers.
The bottom line is because computers provide valuable tools that support and enhance learning in the classroom, teachers and students are not only encouraged to access these resources, but also required to do so. Therefore, network etiquette, citizenship, vandalism, and security, must all be incorporated into a document that all users agree to in order to provide the necessary protection.
Carson City School District, Board of Education. (1997). Carson city school district aup regulation 218 rules of acceptable use student signature page. Retrieved from http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CDUQFjAA&url
Chandler, R. S. Information Technology Division, (2012). Acceptable use policy (aup) for district computer and network systems (BUL – 999.5)
Education World: Getting Started on the Internet: Acceptable Use Policies. (n.d.).Retrieved February 10, 2013, from http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/curr093.shtml
The Board of Trustees and Administration of Joint School District No. 2, (2013). High school student-parent handbook. Retrieved from website: http://www.meridianschools.org