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Responsible Use Policies and the Classroom

Responsible Use Policies and the Classroom

Author: Kathleen Johnson

This lesson will provide students with an Introduction to Responsible Use Policies

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Hello, ladies and gentlemen. I hope you are having a wonderful day today. Today, we are going to be looking at responsible use policies and the classroom-- specifically the way in which you can incorporate responsible use policies into your teaching.

For today's lesson, I've chosen a quote by Bob Dylan which states, "A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom." And that's really what all of this is about, helping students to understand the responsibility of when they are engaging as digital citizens. By the end of the lesson today, you will be able to review responsible use policies and templates to help you create your own.

First, let's go ahead and look at the definition of responsible use policies or RUPs. This is according to the definition identified by the Consortium for School Networking. And here is what it says. First and foremost, responsible use policies are enacted to protect the students while they are either opening filters wider and while teaching students about cyber safety and digital citizenship.

What this means is that when we're looking at a responsible use policy as opposed to an acceptable use policy, we're looking at the differences between an acceptable use policy, which is much more restricted as opposed to a responsible use policy where the teacher has more control over the objectives, and has the ability to adjust what the elements are within the classroom, so that we can open and close our own filters while helping our students engage as digital citizens.

This also opens up a much more complete and authentic discussion of cyber safety and digital citizenship, because we are not immediately saying, no, you are not allowed to be on that. Do not. That is not acceptable. Rather we're helping to show students this might be out there, but here's why it's something that we should stay away from.

Also, responsible use policies help remind students and teachers that access to these various digital resources are a privilege, not a right. Meaning that we are able to really help present students with those various elements, but they are not automatically allowed to do it. So it really gets into that like we want to be responsible and using this so that it doesn't get taken away.

All in all, it is a much more positive way to view it. In fact, according to the Consortium for School Networking's definition, they state that, "It presents the student use policy in a form of what students should do rather than what they should not do," All of this works together to really help protect our students while providing them access to the internet.

Now I would like to go ahead and look at a number of elements that are out there, various tools and examples that we can look at to help better our understanding of not only what an RUP is, but how to create one ourselves. The first thing we are going to look at is from Shipley School. And that is a responsible use policy. Then we are going to look at some risk responsible use and acceptable use templates. And finally, we are going to take a look at the Massachusetts guidelines for responsible use policies framework to help build that deeper understanding.

So first, let's go ahead and take a look at a sample RUP. This is a responsible use policy developed by the Shipley School. And what you'll notice is that it's clearly identified in the top as a responsible use policy. As you go through, it lays out the basic elements of when this policy is in place. As you can see it says, "Students represent the Shipley School at all times, including vacations nights and weekends. And the use of technology at the school is a privilege." Again, looking at that, a privilege, not a right.

It then goes and gets very specific about responsible use in digital citizenship for yourself. So all of the elements that you should do to be that responsible digital citizen and for others as well. So making sure that students remember that their interactions with other people also constitute them as a digital citizen.

Finally, it talks about what intellectual property is and the way in which students are expected to interact with it. And what I really love is examples of inappropriate use. Not exhaustive, but definitely helps to give a very clear picture for students of what they should and should not do. This kind of bridges the gap right here between responsible use policies and acceptable use policies.

Finally, it ends up helping the student look over what they can do if a mistake is made, what will happen. And then there is some education elements. Next, let's go ahead and take a look at a government website that shows some acceptable use templates very similar to responsible use, and really focuses in on tools on how to really develop and communicate those various responsible use policies.

So this is from the national center for educational statistics and what you can see here is the first thing we have is a sample acceptable use policy and agreement. This actually leaves spaces open for you to include the name of your organization. And it's a really wonderful tool if your school doesn't already have a responsible use or an acceptable use policy. This is a wonderful one to get you started, and allows a lot of opportunity for you to either rely heavily on the sample or to give you the opportunity to really edit, change, and make it your own.

What is really wonderful about this is that it also shows you different ways that you can communicate these responsible use policies. So it shows you various policies on mail or in school access elements, password policies. But as you continue to go over to the side and look at the other various elements that are available, you can see that they not only give you that sample use but also how to integrate those technologies, sample security agreements, and various ways that you can use this tool to help communicate those policies to your students your other teachers and your parents.

Finally, let's go ahead and take a look at the Massachusetts guidelines for responsible use framework. Here is where the Massachusetts Educational Technology Advisory Council created an internet safety task force really focusing in on what responsible use in public schools should look like.

This is a wonderful document. It's not that long, only about seven pages. But it really gives you a strong solid deeper understanding of not only what the responsible use elements are, but why they're in place. Students always ask why, why, why, why? And it's good for us to know that, so that we can help make this relevant for them.

It not only gives you the philosophy behind it as well as other resources, but focuses in on elements like cyber bullying, security advice, how to involve parents, and various ways of rethinking and integrating these elements into the classroom. Finally, it ends with a substantial amount of further reading and information on the references that they used, both in print and on the web, so that you can dive deeper into your own understanding of the benefits of responsible use policies.

Now that we've reached the end of the lesson, you have been able to review responsibly use policies and templates to help you create your own in your learning environment. Now I would like to take just a moment for reflection. As you think back on everything we have discussed in terms of responsible use policies, what do you think will be the first step you will take as a teacher to implement these responsible use elements into your classroom curriculum? Feel free to pause the video for a moment as you think about your answer to this question.

For more information on how to apply what you have learned in this video, please view the Additional Resources section that accompanies this video presentation. The Additional Resources section includes hyperlinks useful for applications of the course material, including a brief description of each resource. That's all we have right now. I hope you have a wonderful rest of your day.

Notes on "Responsible Use Policies and the Classroom"

(00:00-00:36) Intro

(00:37-00:47) Objectives

(00:48-02:02) Responsible Use Policy Definition

(02:03-05:42) Sample RUP

(05:43-07:13) RUP/AUP Templates

(07:14-08:26) Massachusetts Guidelines for RUP

(08:27-08:37) Review

(08:38-09:28) Reflection

Additional Resources

Montgomery Schools Responsible Use Policies

This site provides links to the responsible use policies in use by the Montgomery County Public Schools. This school districted has opted to employ three responsible use policies (Pk2, 3-5, and 6-8). All policies are available for your review.

COSN Website

This is an excellent resource for establishing a responsible use policy or an acceptable use policy.

COSN Handbook

A fantastic resource from COSN that explains the difference between acceptable use and responsible use: Rethinking acceptable use policies to enable digital learning. This handbook demonstrates why so many districts are moving away from acceptable use policies toward responsible use policies. A responsible use policy opens up more filters, treats technology use as a privilege and places responsibility on teachers and students. This is critical in a BYOD environment where you are unable to fully control student devices or in a system that allows personal mobile devices.