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Responsible & Acceptable Use Guidelines

Guideline_IconThe educational tools available to technology users is directly connected to an ever evolving world of technologic advances. Educators must equip themselves with knowledge to maintain a safe and healthy learning environment that will transfer acceptable and responsible digital citizenship to the students they teach. Changing the way we view electronic devices by changing our language to describe them will also help in this mind shift. Students need to fully understand that electronic items are tools for learning. Teachers should make consistent efforts to refer to them as mobile learning devices. When using these devices in the classroom, the teacher must ensure that there is a specific learning outcome connected to the device and that the student understands that learning target. The technology is at the service of the pedagogy helping to make the learning student focused rather than teacher centered.Teaching digital citizenship is an integrated process as technology continues to transform how our students learn. Putting guidelines for usage in place sets the tone for responsible learning with digital tools.

Katy Independent School District in Texas has paved the way as an exemplary model for designing Responsible & Acceptable Use Guidelines (RAUG) for their students and faculties. They state that schools “make a variety of communications and information technologies available to students through computer/network/Internet access. These technologies, when properly used, promote educational excellence in the district by facilitating resource sharing, innovation, and communication. Illegal, unethical or inappropriate use of these technologies can have dramatic consequences, harming the district, its students and its employees.”

Other systems that are leading the way are Corcoran in California and Oak Hills in Ohio.

Responsible and Acceptable Use Guidelines are intended to help educate students and set standards which  serve to protect the school systems faculties and students. Digital resources, information and interaction available on the computer/network/Internet far outweigh any disadvantages, so it is important that we forge ahead in a responsible and safe manner.

Students and parents as well as the educators should be required to review school system guidelines on an annual basis. They should acknowledge receipt and understanding of the guidelines and agree to monitored use. Educators, licensed, certified, and classified should all be part of effective training and lesson delivery that emphasize digital citizenship and responsible and fair use.

School systems should clearly define hardware and software, including a model for bring your own devices. Access to the Internet should be viewed as a privilege and shall be treated as such in order to enhance the educational experience in a legal, ethical, and appropriate manner.

For students under the age of 13, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) requires additional parental permission for educational software tools. Parents wishing to deny access to these educational tools must do so in writing to the principal indicating their child should be denied access to these tools. Some examples of these tools are Discovery Education, wikis, blogs, and Edmodo.

Boards of Education in each district should review their Responsible & Acceptable Use Guidelines (RAUG) to ensure codes of conduct in this regard are adhered to and enforced. They should also come up with their own POLICY FORM that may be digital or hard copy and governed by their legal representatives as defined by the federal Children’s Internet Protection Act.

Ongoing Professional Development is critical so that teachers have a full understanding of how Information Skills should be embedded in learning and how they are responsible for understanding their role in COPPA and CIPA.

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