Thursday, November 22, 2007

Helping Students Define the New Borders

Defining the new borders: Part III Students and technology AUPs

My goal in creating this last portion of my three-part AUP of the futureis to avoid the extremes. We all hear about the pendulum of education but here is an attempt to harness the progress that the swinging pendulum makes. After all, the clock doesn’t move without that swinging. The extremes I’m referring to here are equally impractical for different reasons. The extreme that most schools, including my own, tend to lean toward is blocking and banning the outside world. Content filtering, long AUPs that make it clear that the goal is to keep everything “in-house” and insular. Risk-takers need not apply and, if you are here, get ready to pack your bags. The other extreme is what I would call the “let ‘em learn it on their own” side. This camp basically “gives up” on any meaningful filtering and says, “the kids are going to do it anyway”. This is not only defeatist but dangerous. Students do need a filter—their brain and moral compass. And they aren’t going to develop and employ it on their own. So here is my attempt at crafting a technology vision or AUP for students that takes what’s important to both camps and allows for time to march on.

***Student Technology Agreement***
This school district believes that technology is a tool for learning and as a tool for learning schools need to teach proper use of this tool. As with most tools, chainsaws, drills, and lawn mowers for example, safety and proper instruction are important.
Access to technology in this district is like access to a textbook or a pencil or a notebook. They are an important part of classes, but theymust be treated with care.
When you use technology in this district, you agree to follow the rules and procedures listed below:
1. Treat equipment like you would your pet, family member, or video game console. As with any other piece of school equipment, you are responsible to pay for damages to it if they are intentional or careless.
2. You need to show responsibility with your computer, online andoffline. That includes but is not limited to:
a. Understanding the rules of the road and asking teachers when you don’t understand those rules.
b.Don’t share personal information for yourself or others online unless under the direct supervision of a teacher including pictures, addresses, full names, phone numbers.
c. Don’t do things online that you wouldn’t do in person, likename-calling, threatening or harassment.
d. DO NOT try to access websites or programs that are illegal, pornographic, or are not appropriate for school. If you think it might be, ask a teacher. Just because the filter didn’t ban you from it, doesn’t always mean that it is “OK” to go to.
e. Reporting any problems or inappropriate behavior to staff members immediately.
f. DO NOT under ANY circumstances attempt to bypass the school’s security or content filters. If you need to access something with educational value, see a staff member.

To helpsstudents make better choices with technology, you must complete a school-based on-line responsibility course before you will be given a school issued laptop.

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