For the final project in this course, I was interested in the idea of working on the AUP for my school. This was for two reasons, one was to familiarize myself with the document, which I must admit I’d never even read. Second was that I’m increasingly intrigued by the idea of Digital Citizenship, and what we do to guide students in this way. I have two fellow COETAIL cohorts at my school, Sarah Cornelius and Kate Uebelherr. As we share a school (and internet challenges), we thought it would be good to share our thoughts on AUPs at our school. However as Kate is elementary, Sarah is high school, and I’m middle school, I felt after our preliminary discussion that I should also work with people in my division. So I worked with my teammates in my grade level, and my ICT Coordinator and Principal in order to revise the document for what I though could potentially be useful.
One interesting thing when looking at other school’s AUPs compared to our own, is that most of them gave clear instructions that students are not allowed to violate copyright laws, such as illegally downloading videos. As Kate and I had discussed, these laws are utterly ignored in Myanmar, where copyright infringement is rampant, and getting textbooks photocopied and installing pirated software is considered standard operating procedure (this includes our school). One computer teacher was trying to instruct students on the importance of copyright and what can happen if it’s infringed upon, only to have a staffperson deliver to her two photocopied textbooks (when she had ordered the originals) in front of all the students. A teachable moment indeed! So in our current AUP, it only stresses not plagiarizing, but doesn’t get into copyright violation. So is it hypocrisy to add it to our AUP, knowing our school won’t follow it? Ultimately it does seem so, and so I felt compelled to leave this off, even though I believe that students will need to discuss this and understand that this is not perceived as okay in the world beyond their borders (at least in a legal sense).
We also have very limited bandwidth at our school, so there are very real questions about whether we could really go in the direction of 1:1 or even BYOD. While there is talk about making wifi accessible throughout the school, what does mean when just the access we have now strains our bandwidth and connection? So it is important that students respect this, and keep the bandwidth use to a minimum.
I’ve been interested in the issues of BYOD, as I don’t see our school ever making a strong investment in 1:1, and so the only way to use computers with students is either in the lab, or potentially with their own devices in a wifi classroom. Even though there are definitely pros and cons with the concept, I see a lot of potential in it. However at this time it is probably unrealistic to think we would have an official BYOD policy, due to the distraction potential and bandwidth issue. So it may be that making alterations to deal with this issue are a moot point, however, as the goal with the AUP is to make it as extensive as possible, I thought I’d give it a try. I also noticed that our AUP doesn’t really address the use of phones and such, and it seems to be ignoring a fairly large part of potential technology issues.
The last issue is that we do not have a cloud network for students and teachers to access materials. There is a local network, for which part is used for student files and storage. However none of it is password protected (I discussed this with our middle school technology coordinator), and so students go in and look through and copy each other’s files all the time. Even with the understanding that it is not allowed, it happens. Operating on trust doesn’t seem to be enough for our students.
So to create the document below I went through the following stages. First, I discussed with fellow COETAILers Sarah and Kate about our existing document. Then I discussed with my 6th grade team, middle school tech coordinator, and principal our particular issues. Then I went online to review other AUPs, not only my own schools, and particularly paid attention to BYOD policies. Then I adapted bits and pieces from multiple policies to what I felt would work for my school.
With the language, I tried to craft something that was more positive than our school’s current policy, which really seemed rather negative and “thou shalt not” at times. I wanted it to be a relatively easy-to-read document that my students could understand. Then, at the beginning of the school year, when students are required to sign and return a copy of it, the teachers could go through it with them, helping students to understand what is okay and what is not. At the moment I’m not sure any of them really read it, so making it something they will understand and embedding a discussion of it into the start of the year seems ideal.
So here it is, and the AUPs that helped inspire it (some more directly than others, as you shall see) are footnoted below. I hope it is not considered a plagiarizing sin to so blatantly use parts another’s AUP to help write my own, as the instructions did say I could work from an existing framework (or frameworks?). Yet if the utilizing of certain turns of phrase from these documents does constitute the plagiarizing sin, I apologize. I certainly did adapt quite a bit from all the documents I found to create what could work for my own school.