According to Roblyer, an acceptable use policy 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 students 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”(Roblyer, 421).
An acceptable use policy outlines how online content may be used by anyone who chooses to use it. This will include what types of content should be used and how people should be interacting with it. This ensure that online content is being used for the purpose it was intended within the setting it is being used. For schools this is a very broad range of expectation. Schools work to not only use online content to engage students in the content area they are learning, but also ensuring that students are safe when interacting in an online learning environment. In order for students to have a safe environment to interact in they must understand what is appropriate and what is not appropriate. While the internet provides students with access to more resources and tools than ever before, that access also comes with risks. One of the biggest issues with internet interaction is that people view online interaction different than they view face to face interaction. Students need to understand that the expectations for online interaction are basically the same as face to face interaction. The only difference is that there are additional guidelines due to the nature of online interaction. Students are taught netiquette guidelines that help them understand the unique nature of online interaction and how to engage in them in respectful appropriate manners (Roblyer, 177).
Beyond teaching students how to interact online in appropriate manners, acceptable use policies also seek to teach students about internet safety, privacy and security, relationships and communications, cyberbullying, digital footprint and reputation, self-image and identity, and creative credit and copyright policies (Roblyer, 177). Internet safety allows students to understand how to identify appropriate content and interactions to engage in while interacting online. Some of the most important lessons in this area that they will learn about are cyberbullying, exposure to inappropriate content, understanding what an online predator is, and the importance of not revealing too much personal information. (Sosnowski, n.d. Privacy and security lessons teach students how to secure their information and data by setting up paswords, identifying scams, schemes, and understand website privacy policies. (Roblyer, 177) Relationship, communications, and cyberbullying go hand in hand. Students need to understand that while the internet can provide a certain amount of anonymity to its user, they still have a responsibility to interact in respectful ways. The golden rule applies online as much as it does in real life and they should only say things online that they would be say in person as well. Asking them, “would you say that to your mother” is a good litmus test to whether something is appropriate or not. Next we come to the digital footprint, which students can understand as a collection of all of their online interactions, website visits, and internet usage, which is accessible to anybody with the tools to look, and trail of bread crumbs that never disappears. This trail creates and impacts a person’s self-image and identity not only online, but also in the real world as well. Lastly, we come to information literacy and creative credit and copyright, which helps students understand how to find credible information and websites and how that content can be used.
Overall, each part of an acceptable use policy creates a framework that teaches and supports students in learning what they need to know to interact safely on the internet. These concepts should be integrated into instruction before, during, and after students use technology in the class so this information becomes second nature to them.
Below are links to four examples of acceptable use policies.
Roblyer, M.D. (2016). Integrating educational technology into teaching (7th Ed.). Allyn & Bacon