Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Different Way of Handling AUPs

A Different Way of Handling AUPs
Jan 21, 2007

Note added on October 10, 2013 : a lot has changed in the past six to seven years, but our AUP hasn't :-)

Every discussion about Acceptable Use Policies (AUPs) either online or at tech conferences, at some point touches on signed forms or implied consent. In the first case, each student and parent is required to turn in a signed form before the student can access the Internet through the district network. In the second case it is assumed that every parent and child has read the AUP and agreed with it – if not then the parent needs to sign a form requesting their child not have access to the Internet through the district’s network.

Since the first AUPs were written in the mid 1990’s, the use of the Internet in schools has changed drastically. We don’t have a Macintosh or Windows XP computer in our district that is not connected to the network, and thus to the Internet. Our daily routine is now dependent on the network. When we have network problems, it is a major concern to our teachers and administrators.

So what do we do with a student who does not have permission to use the Internet, has not returned the required signed form, or has lost the privilege to use the Internet because they violated the AUP? Basically they have lost access to any computer access! And in our district this means that they can’t access the library lookup stations, take our online assessments, complete research and writing assignments, enter data for science experiments, or do a presentation using PowerPoint or Keynote. In some classes, such as keyboarding, word processing, accounting, web design, and photography they couldn’t complete a many assignments.

Asking teachers to create alternative assignments and the technology department to set up computers that can’t access the Internet puts an extra burden on people who are already busy.

Networked computers and Internet access are now essential to our curriculum, not some “extra” that we should treat differently than textbooks.

Last spring I presented our AUP to the school board, but with a new twist. We now treat computer, network and Internet access just as we do a textbook. We no longer ask for a student and parent signature. We do not use “implied consent.” All students will have access to the computers, network and Internet for school and curriculum use. If a parent has concerns about this, they will go through the same procedures as if they had a problem with a textbook or other curriculum material.

Principals and/or counselors will visit with concerned parents and explain all the uses of the Internet in a school environment and the filters and other types of supervision provided. If the parent still has concerns, a plan may be adopted that will allow the student to have access to those technologies that are absolutely necessary to complete the requirements of the teacher and school.

Instead of removing all Internet privileges from students who violate the AUP, a similar plan may be put in place for them. Building principals will decide on the consequences for violating the AUP, just as they do for many student acts during the school year. We don’t have a policy prohibiting a student from having a nude centerfold hanging in their locker, yet we still deal with that situation. That is how we deal with inappropriate use of our computers, other technologies, network and the Internet.

We still publish our Technology, Computer and Network Facilities AUP in the student handbooks, on our school web sites, and make them available to parents.

Our previous AUP was quite general in nature, was last approved by our school board in 1997, and last year stood up in two separate instances under close scrutiny by lawyers. It was written to cover changing technologies and general use. The only new items we introduced were to cover intentionally bypassing the district filter and the taking of digital pictures with phone cameras.

This is the AUP that was approved by our School Board last spring. (A PDF version can be found at http://tinyurl.com/3d7rm7)

Technology, Computer and Network Facilities
Acceptable Use Policy

The Board of Education is committed to the goal of having technology, computers and network facilities used in a responsible, efficient, ethical, educational and legal manner in accordance with the mission of the Minot Public School District.

Acceptable uses of the network are activities which support teaching and learning. Network users are encouraged to use technology, computers and the Internet for purposes which meet their individual educational needs and take advantage of the computer and network functions;

Acceptable uses of technology, computers and the network include, but are not limited to;

•Minot Public School and Minot Public Library online catalogs;
•NWEA MAP testing;
•network file storage;
•word processing and other software;
•electronic mail;
•accessing databases such as Grolier’s Online and ODIN (Online Dakota Information Network);
•accessing Internet resources such as web sites and United Streaming

Unacceptable uses of computers and the network include, but are not limited to;

•accessing Internet resources or visiting web sites deemed inappropriate by the staff and administrators of this District;
•violating the privacy rights of students and employees of this District;
•gaining unauthorized access to computer systems or files;
•copying print, software, music or video for use in violation of copyright law;
•inappropriate content in e-mail, other documents or online postings;
•using profanity, obscenity, or other language which may be offensive to another user;
•using the network for financial gain or for intentionally spreading computer viruses;
•downloading, storing, or printing graphics, videos, files or messages that are profane, obscene, or that use language that offends or tends to degrade others;
•taking and/or publishing digital images that are inappropriate, embarrassing or harassing to other students or MPS employees;
•intentionally bypassing the state-wide and/or district-based Internet filters;

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