Ms. Donnelly Reads

"A Reader Lives a Thousand Lives" George R.R. Martin

2019-01-26_14102019-01-26_1410_001

Computers and Use of Electronic Networks. (2018-2019). Retrieved from  http://www.district148.net/documents/HandbookCalendar/SD_148_Cal_18_19_Web.pdf

I’ve worked at my school district for 18 years and this is the first time I’ve looked at the handbook’s AUP! I’ve gone and checked out the uniform, weapons, and fighting policies, but computer usage never struck me as being as important as the rest. Sure, we’ve had kids find porn on the computers (that’s how I learned it’s whitehouse.gov, not whitehouse.com) and they played games they weren’t supposed to, but I never chalked it up to being one of the more pressing concerns in our district. That was until 5-7 years ago… When most of the kids became more savvy in their searches and more cunning in their usage, we had to start really paying attention to them.

At the beginning of the school year, each family and teacher has to sign an Authorization for Access to the District’s Electronic Networks slip before being granted permission to use the internet. If that paper isn’t signed, students and teachers are unable to access their accounts. This document outlines the proper usage of school electronics and the possible actions that will be taken against the student, depending on the kind of online behavior. The district also lets families and staff know that there is no expectation of privacy on any of its networks and that all users must demonstrate responsible use or they will be subject to the loss of privileges, disciplinary action, and/or appropriate legal action.

When a kid searched out, found, and distributed porn from one of the school’s computers, he was banned from computer use in the building. Teachers can bar students indiscriminately for classroom laptop misuse. For instance, instead of working on a project, a student looked up pictures of his friends and favorite athletes, I banned him from using the computer in class to finish the project. He was warned twice and redirected, but he chose to continue doing what he wanted. And, next week, he’ll have to complete his assignment on his own time. His online behavior didn’t warrant a write up or further disciplinary action.

I’m looking for language that suggests what users “should” do, but am finding that most of it is written as “shouldn’t”. I feel confident that if I didn’t read the policy, parents and kids didn’t, either. So, I wonder, if the document were written in user friendly language, would it be more inviting and easier to understand? If it were written with a positive tone, instead of the restrictive one it currently has, would that encourage everyone to actually read what’s written.

4 thoughts on “Acceptable Use Policy

  1. Heather GF says:

    Sarah:
    I agree that if policies were written in a more everyday language then maybe people would read them more. Even if the company had the “long winded” version of the policy and then a just summary version would be better. Maybe they just have the “long winded” policy because the summary version might still mean a lawsuit? Or maybe the company doesn’t want you to read it? Whatever the case is, a simpler version would probably get more people to read it…. that includes me too!

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  2. Michael Kalusa says:

    Sarah,
    I had the exact same experience with whitehouse.gov versus .com- this was in the early days of the internet AND we had an internet watchdog (Bessie) designed to stop students from searching or visiting inappropriate websites. when directed to go to the .gov site, one student typed .com instead and holy smokes!!! Thankfully there wasn’t any fallout for myself or the student- and the loophole was quickly closed.
    I like the aspect of teacher ability to enforce bans in their classrooms for students found to be off task. To have that support from admin is wonderful. I agree that the list should contain more do’s than don’ts and be written in a more user friendly language rather than legal speak. Its like the user agreement from Apple… no one reads it- all we do is click accept and move on.

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  3. Nicole says:

    Excellent point about changing the language and the tone of the AUP. Thanks for your honesty about not only not reading the AUP but admitting that it’s likely that your parents and students haven’t either!

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  4. Corinne says:

    Hi Sarah! Having well-written and easy to understand policies make such a difference. No one wants to read boiler plate jargon. I think a lot more people would pay attention to policies if they were written in plain language. I’m not seeing a lot of social media “etiquette” policy. A lot of these policies (not just this one you have posted) seem to focus on the legal side of things and not so much the ethical. I’m curious to see if that will change in the coming years. Good post!

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