Internet access is necessary for students to use technology in the classroom however it must be carefully supervised. Students using technology in the classroom in essence have the world at their fingertips. The amount of information available to them is monumental as is the responsibility that goes along with having the access. Before allowing student’s access to the Internet, they must understand the importance of responsible use. Unbeknownst too many children are the many dangers lurking online. Children are often exposed to inappropriate language, images, and potential predators and are unsure of how to deal it. According to the National Education Association, “Internet access and activities should be age appropriate and monitored and should foster critical use” (NEA, 2013, p. 37).
An Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) is a first step to teaching children about responsible use of technology. Educators need to explain to the students that an AUP is a legal document, explaining the expected behaviors when using technology in the classroom. No student should be allowed access to the Internet at school until both the student and a parent or guardian has signed an AUP. The AUP is “an agreement created by a school or other educational organization that describes the risks involved in Internet use; outlines appropriate, safe student behavior on the Internet; asks student if they agree to use the Internet under these conditions; and asks what information about themselves, if any, may be posted on the school’s website” (Robyler & Doering, 2011).
The primary purpose of an AUP is to focus on responsible Internet usage, while carefully outlining what is acceptable and what is unacceptable. “Creating a workable AUP requires thoughtful research and planning” (Education World, 2014). When drafting an AUP, administrators must consider the audience, choosing age appropriate language.
In student friendly language, the AUP should explain why the document is needed, provide definitions of terms, a policy statement, a list of what is acceptable use, and possibly most importantly examples of what is unacceptable Internet usage. Also contained in the document are the consequences should a student violate the terms of the policy. Teachers should thoroughly review the document with the students, stressing the importance of safety. A copy of the AUP should be posted in the tech lab and the signed copy should be kept in the student files for reference.
The following are examples of Acceptable Use Policies used at Catholic schools including the one where I teach.
Education World. (2014). Getting Stated on the Internet: Developing an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP). Retrieved from http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/curr093.shtml
National Education Association. (2013). NEA Resolutions. Retrieved from http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/nea-resolutions-2013-14.pdf
Roblyer, M.D. and Doering, A.H. (2013). Integrating Educational Technology Into Teaching, (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education, Inc.