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Understanding the differences between Acceptable Use and Responsible Use

Understanding the differences between Acceptable Use and Responsible Use


This lesson will build an understanding of the similarities and differences between acceptable use and responsible use policies for students

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Hello, and welcome. In this lesson, we'll be looking at a pair of policies that can be found in schools around the country. They are acceptable use and responsible use policies. Let's take a look at the two of them.

We'll start with a fairly basic definition for each. Take a moment to look these over with me. Acceptable use, a set of rules that students or users acknowledge, that restricts the ways that the computers, software, and websites visited are used. These policies are intended to protect the school from legal action, and the user from mature or unacceptable content.

And responsible use, a set of rules that outlines what the computer user is responsible for, such as following local, state, and federal regulations, and school rules. In turn, the school promises to maintain the security of the system. Users recognize that their access can be terminated if they do not follow the policy.

Let's take a side by side look at them. We'll begin with acceptable use policies. They set high filters, and restrict access to many sites that could be beneficial to teaching and learning, but also can contain mature content on them-- for example, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and so on. Acceptable use policies place the ownership of responsibility largely on the district, school, and teacher, and acts primarily by blocking. Use is signed off on by students, parents, and guests. And acceptable use policies require some direct instruction in cyber safety and digital citizenship.

Now let's look at responsible use. RUPs adhere to the filters required by SIPA, but are more relaxed than acceptable use filters. Students and teachers are given greater ownership and responsibility. A major feature of responsible use is that technology is considered a privilege, not a right, and can be taken away. This type of policy allows access to sites that have educational content, of course, but they may also have mature content, because the filters block at the word level, rather than at the site level.

If a district encourages bring your own device, or BYOD, this is typically the type of policy used, because it is difficult to block or monitor content brought in on student or staff devices. For these reasons, a responsible use policy is a more practical approach in a BYOD setting. However, this type of policy requires much more direct instruction in cyber safety and digital citizenship.

In classrooms with students under the age of 13, you may find that an acceptable use policy may provide greater protections. It does require some effort, however, as districts have the ability to decide and define restrictions by location. In my experience, students at this age aren't so much actively searching for inappropriate content, however, are often exposed to it via ads, or comments posted by other users. Another factor to think about when working with young children and technology is that what one parent may consider appropriate, another may find offensive. That is why it is always best to communicate with families that you are working with, in order to avoid any potential problems.

At the end of the day, when children leave the safe haven we call school, there's no benefit of an RUP or an AUP. This is why whichever policy you implement, it is important to explicitly teach cyber safety, cyber ethics, and digital citizenship to students, and also model those behaviors as adults. We all want to avoid such things as cyber bullying, unauthorized access to personal information, and of course, scams.

And now a quick summary. We looked at the differences between acceptable use policies and responsible use policies.

Here's today's food for thought. Look at this topic from various points of view. What policy would you choose if you were a student, a parent, an administrator, or a teacher?

To dive a little deeper and learn how to apply this information, be sure to check out the additional resources section associated with this video. This is where you'll find links targeted toward helping you discover more ways to apply this course material. As always, thanks so much for watching. Have a great day.

Notes on "Understanding the differences between Acceptable Use and Responsible Use"

(00:00-00:13) Intro

(00:14-01:01) Definitions

(01:02-02:42) Side by Side Look

(02:43-03:24) Potential Dangers

(03:25-03:51) Teaching the Behaviors

(03:52-04:28) Summary/Food for Thought

Additional Resources

Welcoming Mobile: More Districts Are Rewriting Acceptable Use Policies, Embracing Smartphones and Social Media in Schools 

This article from the MacArthur Foundation includes insights from school districts that follow responsible use policies. They stress that it is more important that schools teach students how to be safe rather than blocking them.

Archive for the ‘Acceptable Use Policy’ Category

Tom Whitby argues that schools should move away from the restrictive filters of acceptable use policies. He suggests, "Teaching kids responsible use is the best form of control. It is lifelong skill. Mobile devices provide a gateway to more relevant content than could ever be placed in a textbook" This article offers a practical look at the need to update policies as well as insights into why older generations may not understand this need.