edtech for IT: Acceptable Use Policies

All organizations have acceptable use policies which that define what users are allowed to do with devices and systems owned by the organization. These policies are approved by organization’s governing bodies (school board are generally responsible for adopting policy) and are intended to protect the organization and the systems they support. 

In general, the role of school administrators is to ensure actions taken by all school employees, including IT professionals, align with adopted policy. will refer to acceptable use policies when deciding what IT decisions are reasonable, and all procedures defined by IT professionals must align with adopted school policy. If it is discovered that IT procedures violate policy, it is likely those will be overturned. In schools where collaborative IT planning is observed, new procedures that meet the needs of the IT professionals, but that aligns with policy will be defined. Revising policy takes a significant amount of time and policy makers typically revise IT (and other policy) on a regular basis (usually with years between revisions). 

While the acceptable use policies adopted by school boards are the ultimate policy that must be followed, those can be written in language that is difficult for laypeople to understand. This is especially true regarding children, who we know comprise the majority of school IT users. In response, IT professionals and educators will collaborate to create acceptable use policies that are written in language that is appropriate for the students. 

Having students and adults sign AUP’s is a largely symbolic activity in schools. The signature does indicate students, parents, educators, and others have been made aware of the policy. Whether one has signed an AUP or not, they are obligated to follow policy and failure to follow the policy can result in school administrators taking actions to ensure policy is followed. Because it is symbolic, it does not mean that AUP’s are meaningless. These can present a valuable opportunity for teaching students about: 

  • Cybersecurity 
  • Cyberbullying 
  • Privacy 
  • Other ethics