Acceptable Use Policy
I work at an international, PYP school in Singapore and we indeed have an Acceptable Use Policy. In fact, in my new role this year as EdTech Coach, I actually had to rewrite the Acceptable Use Policy in conjunction with our Director of Education Technology.
The AUP is for all students in our school. In the primary level, students use the school's technology whether that's iPads/iMacs in Kindergarten - Year 2 or the 1-to-1 laptop programme in Years 3-6 or the BYOD (MacBooks) from Middle School onwards. There is also a teacher's AUP as well as now a parent AUP as the Middle/High school parents have school emails to access ManageBac.
One of the major challenges is finding wording that is suitable for all students, especially the younger year groups. This year we rewrote it to make it more positive and student friendly. Thus, instead of saying "Don't do this", it now reads "We will...". This provides a more community approach that we all are responsible for abiding by the rules and frames it in a way of what students should be doing.
Our Acceptable Use Policy is broken down into different sections:
1. Be polite and respectful
2. Be responsible
3. Care for the devices
4. Keep your information private
5. Access appropriate information
6. Reference your work
8. Social Media
Each section is expanded on with a few key bullet points. The social media section was added this year to fill a much needed gap. While we do not use social media often at our school, it is important to have the policy in place for if/when we use social media for specific needs.
The other challenge with developing an Acceptable Use Policy is that technology is always changing and the policy needs to be created in a way that will allow for new technologies to be fit in to the existing AUP. Thus, not always so specific to a certain tool but rather more the overarching ideals.
When going into each of the classrooms to talk about the AUP, I had to have very different approaches for the younger and older students. Some classes were more of a discussion while others were hands on practice of how to hold, carry, use, etc. the devices. I am interested to review the document after a year in the role and see what I would change after experiencing the role and the challenges within it.
Social Media in the Classroom
Social media allows individuals to have a platform to communicate and connect around the globe. I agree that the bullying can continue away from the educational institute, causing the student to ever have an escape from the bullying.
We do not use social media too often with our students, have an acceptable use policy and most social media sites (Twitter, Google+ , Snapchat, etc.) are blocked on the school network. Unfortunately, this does not eliminate what happens on cell phones and personal devices that are not connected through the school wifi. One of the ways I have worked with students in a closed and supportive social media network is through Edmodo. Edmodo mimics Facebook for students in a closed group that is created and monitored by their teacher. Students can communicate, share resources, etc. in small groups, through the discussion feed and learn how to navigate social media. When using Edmodo, we discuss a lot about digital citizenship, digital footprints or digital tattoos, online identity, creating profiles, how our 'brand' is seen by others, etc. It allows students exposure to social media without some of the challenges that are experienced through open social media tools.
I have personally not had to deal large scale issues of cyberbullying. However, social media also has the opportunity to take a turn for the worst allowing the 'trolls' to come out. I use Twitter to build my Personal Learning Network (PLN), gather ideas and resources, and share resources I have created. I find it to be a positive experience, though some of my colleagues have had very different experiences where people have 'trolled' them. Trolling is when someone posts negative or mean comments at another user. My colleague had others call him all kinds of things just because he had a different opinion to theirs. These are educators. If adults who are supposed to be role models for their students spend time trolling the internet, how can we expect our students not to? We as educators have to role model for our students safe and responsible use of social media.
It was nice to see when I read the article 'Why Twitter is Finally Taking a Stand Against Trolls' (Lapowsky, 2015) that the social media sites themselves understand the importance of not tolerating people who cyberbully others. Twitter is flagging inappropriate comments, indirect threats, violent threats, underage usage etc. This is essential for making the social media experience enjoyable for all users and it is positive to see resources put into identifying and eliminating those who do not wish to use social media in a positive manner.
Connect With Students and Parents in Your Paperless Classroom | Edmodo. Retrieved September 12, 2015, from http://www.edmodo.com/
Why Twitter Is Finally Taking a Stand Against Trolls. Retrieved September 20, 2015, from http://www.wired.com/2015/04/twitter-abuse/