AUPs shape Web 2.0 use, guidelines

CoSN's guidelines are a resource for district leaders rewriting Web 2.0 policies.

As educational technology transforms teaching and learning, many districts are finding that once-solid acceptable use policies (AUPs) must be updated to reflect students’ and teachers’ increasing use of Web 2.0 technologies and other digital media tools.

To that end, the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) has released an AUP guide to help school district leaders rethink their internet use policies and how educational technology can best be used to help students get the most out of their time in school.

The new guide addresses the following questions:

  1. How does policy differ from procedure, and does the difference matter?
  2. What are the two major approaches used to develop a district’s AUP?
  3. Is the district’s AUP a part of or the totality of the district’s technology policy?
  4. What are the key federal laws affecting internet access, safety, and social networking in schools?
  5. How do state laws or district policies affect school districts’ internet policies pertaining to filtering, AUPs, cyber bullying, and cell phone use?
  6. Does the increasing prevalence of Web 2.0 and student-owned mobile devices necessitate updating a district’s educational technology policies?
  7. Where can I find samples of various exemplary AUPs?
  8. What are some timely, relevant, and useful resources pertaining to the use of Web 2.0 technologies in schools?

James Bosco, principal investigator for CoSN’s Participatory Learning in Schools: Leadership and Policy Initiative, warned that administrators must acknowledge the growing role technology is taking in schools.

“I think we’re fighting a losing battle if the effort is to control it by limiting access and attempting to more or less close the door,” said Bosco. “We have to think about this more in terms of how we work with our students, so it’s not just a matter of forbidding them, but [that] they understand how to use it both for good learning purposes and in an ethical manner.”

The policy questions address the prevalence of Web 2.0 applications and mobile internet devices in schools, and how they affect schools’ safety and access. The guide’s purpose is to help districts in “developing, rethinking, or revising internet policies.”

“I think the new guide that we put out on acceptable use policies, or, as we’re informally calling it, ‘Moving from Acceptable Use Policies to Responsible Use Policies,’ … the point of the conversation today is that school leaders need to start rethinking their basic assumptions,” said CoSN CEO Keith Krueger.

Bosco said that schools have a responsibility to teach their students responsible Web 2.0 tool use.

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