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Acceptable Use Policy

Page history last edited by Mike King 8 years, 6 months ago


With the current push for computer technology in the classroom, many schools are facing a greater liability regarding technology and online learning. Schools can help defuse these problems by adopting an Acceptable Use Policy, or AUP, for the Internet. The Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) is one of the most important documents a school will produce, as it will outline rules regarding Internet use on school property. Creating a workable AUP requires thoughtful research and strategy. The document must address a number of issues including personal safety, illegal activities, system security, privacy, plagiarism, copyright infringement and access to inappropriate materials. In addition, it should unequivocally rule the school’s technology property for educational purposes only. Student’s rights, such as free speech, access to information and due process, should be outlined in the document, as should the consequences for violating the Acceptable Use Policy. In Exhibit 1 A Checklist for Planning, Developing and Evaluating an AUP, the authors have developed a checklist for the planning, development and evaluation of an Acceptable Use Policy. 

Acceptable Use Policy Audio

Listen to how Web 2.0 technologies has challenged and changed the concept of acceptable use. The audio link below presented by Joseph Bires will suggest ways to balance protecting students, teachers, and schools from the dangers of the Internet, while still integrating Web 2.0 technologies into the K-12 curriculum. Also, philosophical issues of acceptable use will be presented such as identity and transparency. Finally, practical suggestions will be shared to help every teacher and administrator. Reference: K12 Online Conference 2010



Here is link to an excellent presentation from the Kansas Association of School Boards on all the technology-related legal issues facing schools now (about 2 hours long but very good). [ <http://www.myvsl.com/kasb/E950DF878848>http://www.myvsl.com/kasb/E950DF878848 ]


Procedures For Developing An Acceptable Use Policy

To achieve the maximum level for the school’s cyber security, it will be important to develop faculty and community involvement. This involvement would include procedures for communicating with school employees and key community members. Formal involvement will include communication strategies that allow for the identification and analysis of issues surrounding cyber security implementation, specifically issues that address policy development, and safety and ethical instruction of students.  There are three important goals the committee will meet: studying the issues of cyber security, analyzing the effects an AUP will have on individuals using information technology, and making content decisions regarding the AUP. 


When the committee studies cyber security issues, they should set goals in order to address these issues. Committee members should formulate program goals in terms of expected results, such as what the school wishes to achieve when implementing the cyber security plan. Schools usually address these goals in the preamble of the AUP document.


As the second level of their involvement, committee members should analyze the cause and effect that the acceptable use policy will have on individuals who will be subject to its regulations. Since any strategic planning requires knowledge of the community’s make-up, the best way to ascertain information is to survey the present level of practice regarding cyber security. This type of assessment is valuable because it informs school officials what type of regulatory and protective Internet policy members of the community are likely to accept for their children. Identifying the present level of cyber security practices will help set the boundaries and acceptance of the AUP’s implementation, as well as help in the development of future planning.


As the third level of their involvement, committee members should help develop and organize the content that will be included in the school’s AUP.  They would be responsible for describing why the policy is necessary, defining specific examples of what constitutes unacceptable use, and addressing what consequences will occur when individuals violate cyber security policies. The authors have outlined four critical components that committee members should include when formulating the content of the AUP. 


The four necessary components of AUP

  • a preamble,
  • a policy statement,
  • an acceptable and unacceptable uses section, and 
  • a violations/sanctions section.

The Preamble

The first step in developing an AUP is to address the purpose it will serve in guiding the school toward its mission regarding the limited use of the Internet. The preamble or philosophy statement should describe why the policy is necessary, communicate the intent of the policy as well as outline the goals the policy will achieve.  This section should describe the school's overall code of conduct as it applies to student online activity. (See Exhibit 2 for Example of AUP Preamble)


Exhibit 2


In a free and democratic society, access to information is a fundamental right of citizenship. Electronic information research skills are now necessary to prepare students for the future. The Board expects that the staff will integrate such information throughout the curriculum, as well as provide guidance and instruction to students regarding the appropriate use of such resources. The staff is responsible for consulting the guidelines for instructional materials contained with, and as an employee, will honor the goals for selection of instructional materials contained therein.


School employees and students are responsible for appropriate conduct on school computer networks just as they would be in any democracy. Since any information on the network can be viewed by others at all times, general school rules for behavior and communications apply. The network is provided for school employees and students to conduct research and to communicate, as it relates to school business and learning. School employees and students must sign a documentation of agreement before they will be granted access to the school’s network services. Students (under the age of 18) must submit parent permission forms before they will be allowed to use the school’s network services.


Access to telecommunications is a privilege that will enable school employees and students to explore information sources such as libraries, databases, and bulletin boards while communicating with others. Woodville High School ultimately believes parents and guardians are responsible promoting the positive standards individuals should follow when using information sources. Therefore, the Woodville High School allows each family or individual the privilege to decide whether or not to apply for network access.


Source: Author

The AUP Policy Statement

The second component of an Acceptable Use Policy includes a policy statement, which should describe what limited computer services are covered by the AUP and the situations under which students can use computer services. (See Exhibit 3 for Sample Policy Statement) Most AUP address multiple issues as the policy statements try to meet all possible scenarios and concerns. One method for constructing acceptable use statements are to review other school districts AUP’s and analyze them to fit your individual schools needs.

 Exhibit 3


So that electronic resources will adequately complement the curriculum, school personnel will review information resources so that they may offer resources that comply with board guidelines regarding educational and instructional materials. The school’s staff will be instructed to offer developmentally appropriate guidance to students when they us electronic information resources, such as the Internet. Teachers will inform students of their rights as they pertain to the network, before students are allowed to access the district’s network.


Although most resources will have already been screened, students may be able to access materials which have not been previously viewed by school personnel. Students will be given a list of rules and resources that will apply when surfing outside predetermined screened areas. Students may access information from the network, only if they have signed parental permission forms in their cumulative file. Permission is not transferable and may not be shared.


Source: Author 


Defining Acceptable Use

The acceptable uses section of this policy should define appropriate student use of the computer network. The acceptable use section should define how students will use Internet for "educational purposes.”  In the unacceptable uses section, the AUP should give clear, specific examples of what constitutes unacceptable student use. (See Exhibit 4 Example of Acceptable and Unacceptable Use) The following represents guidelines committee members should include in the policy in order to describe what constitutes unacceptable uses: 

  • "what kind of computer network sites, if any, should be off limits to students;
  •  what kind of student sending, forwarding, or posting of information, if any, should be prohibited, and


Additionally, the policy will prohibit students from using online term paper vendors or will place restrictions on certain chat rooms. AUPs place strong restrictions on students sending, forwarding, or posting sexually explicit messages, profanity, and harassing or violent messages. In fact, district officials must decide whether students will have any type of access to electronic mail or student WebPages.


Below References from Welcome to School AUP 2.0  

Sample AUP Documents  

Developing Acceptable Use Policy


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