Nine Months of Pedal to the Medal

I was lucky enough to be able to collaborate with two co-workers to develop an Acceptable User Policy (AUP) for our school. It’s very fitting for us to work on an AUP at this point as we have had a very strong tech focus this year at our school. But I think I’m a bit ahead of myself, let me start at the beginning.

This being my first year at PRIS I really didn’t have much of an idea of what I was coming into before I arrived with regard to technology. I guess a good word to describe my feelings when I arrived was… surprised. Coming from a school in Korea which was a 1:1 school and in which focused a lot of resources in acquiring, developing and implementing technology in the classroom. The school supported teachers and encouraged them to try new and innovative methods and tools in their classrooms.

To give an idea of what we came into this year I had a 4-5 year old computer on my desk with very little under the hood. When you turned it on it was best to leave to complete another taks and come back in 5-10 minutes because that is how long it took to start up. I didn’t even have speakers let alone a VGA projector etc. The whole school was running on a 256k internet connection and most every site that you wanted to use was blocked in an effort to conserve bandwidth.

One thing we did have though was a school that was networked. The network is set up pretty well and that has given us the backbone we need to move forward.

Fast forward 9 months and I have a brand new MacBook Pro on my desk, a VGA projector which I can use with my new Smartboard, as well as a laptop cart, iPod cart, and iPad cart at my disposal. The school has increased their internet connection by incredible amounts in addition to installing a new router which is supposed to help with speed/usage issues.

When I arrived there was no way to check your school email outside of school. The school made a decision to adopt Google Apps and has migrated all email to Gmail. Staff has been open and even eager to try out the Google Apps sweet. The school’s Director even conducted the School Board elections using a survey created using Google Docs.

Of course none of this would have been possible without the backing and support of the school’s Head. He has been on board and even pushing for more since day one. It’s a testamant to how much a school can accomplish with a quality leader and a staff that is supported and supportive.

With all this new technology available and teachers ready to start taking advantage of it in their classrooms it became time to develop an Acceptable Use Policy. Many parents who have been at our school for a couple years are not used to students having access to the web or web based tools such as YouTube, blogs, Edmodo etc. Parents have questions and concerns about a wide range of issues. In order to for parents to feel comfortable and supportive we have tried to create a comprehensive AUP as well as some additional guidelines such as an “Elementary Addendum”, a “Web 2.0 Guidelines” document, and a “Blogging and Wiki Guidelines” document.

I’ve also It may seem a little over the top but we figure we’ll try to cover all our bases. We figure we’ll be on the safe side and cover too much rather than cover too little and leave ourselves open to a potential headache. Of course when talking about the web, 2.0 tools, blogging etc nothing is ever 100% foolproof but we feel comfortable with this as a starting place. Our goal is that it will create an ongoing discussion around responsible use, our digital footprint, and our online web presence.

We feel good enough with what we have created and are going to pass it on to the School Head who can then share it with the teachers for additional input.

Comments and suggestions are welcome!

About Benjamin J Sheridan

Instructional designer at the University of Kentucky.
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4 Responses to Nine Months of Pedal to the Medal

  1. Kim Cofino says:

    Wow! What a year you’ve had! Congratulations on helping move the school forward so far in such a short time. I know the feeling, we’ve had a similar year here (but not quite as extreme). It’s exciting to be part of an organization that is so quick to adapt to new changes (even if it took them a while to get there).

    Your AUP is thorough and detailed. You mention that it might be over the top, but I definitely think it’s better to start with something detailed and whittle it down as you see student behavior change. It’s never going to be perfect the first time through. At least this document gives very clear guidelines and expectations. Well done!

  2. Mary Fish says:

    Wow – sounds like it has been quite a year for you. I faced a similar situation when I first arrived at my school five years ago, and I was shocked. After all, my school was in Tokyo – arguably the technology capital of the world. What you have done in one year, it has taken me also five to do (and I don’t yet have an interactive whiteboard).

    I really like your AUP. At my school, we decided to keep the AUP simple, but I like the idea of adding more information to explain some areas in greater detail like offering guidelines for Blogging and Wiki Use. I would like to see the AUP that our school uses be quite short so that parents and students will be encouraged to read it, but then I plan to add appendixes for each of the areas that need more explanation.

    You can see my AUP listed under the title “M&M’s Acceptable Use Policy”.

  3. Great post with deep research, thanks for sharing such a great information!

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