Back to School time! How did this happen so quickly…
One thing that parents are faced with every fall is the giant packet. Everything you need to know, sign, and send back with checks attached as school starts. In the giant packet is the schools Acceptable Use Policy, known as the AUP to most techie educators. To parents, of course, it’s known as paper 23 of 42, likely to be ignored. To make sure that even diligent parents ignore it, schools create AUPs full of dense legalese, hoping that if anything bad happens, they are “covered.” Whatever that means.
When you see a principal on the news explaining why his school is suspected to be the center of a huge student porn network, does he ever hold up the AUP and say, “but we’re covered!” No, of course not. So why do schools believe that the AUP really does any good at all? And why, oh why do we send this out without a shred of explanation about the GOOD that we expect from students using technology?
I’m not saying there shouldn’t be policy in place, and that these policies shouldn’t be communicated. Of course they should. But why send something home guaranteed to intimidate, or worse, bore parents?
I’ve written about this before (What message does your AUP send home?)
I truly believe that EVERYTHING we do sends a message. It’s important to take a step back and try to put yourself in parent’s shoes for a moment and read the AUP from that perspective. In most AUPs, there is not a shred of positive vision for what “Use” means. They should be called UUPs, or Unacceptable Use & Punishments.
Where is your vision shared? How do you communicate with parents and students about your hopes and dreams for technology? If this is your one chance, and you have to send out the AUP anyway, why not rewrite it so it reads like a vision instead of a promise of punishment? At least add a cover letter to it!
Sure, parents will flip through the packet and might not read it. But then again, it’s your one chance – why not take it?
Thinking about revising your AUP? Visit David Warlick’s wiki School AUP 2.0 for links and an RSS feed to many schools with visionary AUPs.