Acceptable Use Policy in School Districts

Currently, my state’s education department does not have guidelines for schools to use concerning acceptable use policies (AUPs). The digital technology tab on the Oregon Department of Education’s website is currently under construction. Fortunately, districts across Oregon have already responded to the needs regarding acceptable use of technology in schools.

According to Common Sense Media, an acceptable use policy for school districts outlines, in writing, how they expect their community members to behave with technology. Often the policies are written to include appropriate and inappropriate technology use and related consequences. Finally, parents and children are expected to sign off that they agree to the terms and conditions in order to use technology for school work.

I liked this summary of recommendations about what should be included in any school district’s acceptable use policy. (

An AUP must address (1) access to and transmission of data and information within the K-12 environment and (2) any technology-based device in the school or personal device brought into the school. It must include the following components:

Description of the instructional philosophies and strategies to be supported by Internet access in schools

Statement on the educational uses and advantages of the Internet in a school or division

Statement that the AUP complies with state and federal telecommunication codes, laws, and regulations

Statement regarding the need to comply with fair-use laws and other copyright regulations while accessing and utilizing the Internet and other network materials and resources

Disclaimer absolving the school division, under specific circumstances, from responsibility

List of the roles and responsibilities of division personnel, community stakeholders, parents, and students for using the Internet and other electronic-based resources

Description of the safety measures currently in place and those measures planned for emerging technologies not currently deployed in the system

Description of the methods by which the division ensures data and network security

Description of prohibited forms of technology-based applications and hardware use by employees and students in addition to details of associated penalties (including clear definitions of acceptable online behavior and access privileges—reflecting any circumstances unique to a specific school or division)

Description of the procedures to address breaches of Internet and intranet security and safety, including legal actions to be taken

Description of the ongoing professional development opportunities for each stakeholder group and associated needs assessments and evaluations

Description of the community outreach activities and associated needs assessments and evaluations

Description of the procedures for evaluating and revising the AUP

Signature form for teachers, parents, and students indicating their intentions to abide by the AUP

Acceptable use policies are important because they protect students. As well, they provide students, teachers and parents with a base level understanding about expectations for responsible use of technology within and outside of school.

Out of personal interest, I decided to compare four examples of AUPs from designated locations around the world.

Four examples of Student Focused AUPs

HSD Elementary Handbook, USA see pages 14-18

Summary: This AUP outlines the basic responsibilities and guidelines related to the appropriate use of technology within and outside of schools. It is written in legal language and would require interpretation for most K-12 students in order to truly understand. The opening statement includes:


Acceptable use in Australia

Summary: This AUP is written in positive language rather than punitive language. The site also states that it is not intended to be a legal document. Instead, it is a compact to be understood by the child, parents, and teacher. It also includes a child-friendly page to demonstrate in pictures and/or in writing that the student understands important elements of responsible technology use. A page is designated to show that the entire team (parent, child, and teacher) agree to the conditions set forth.

austr_aupAcceptable use in United Kingdom of Great Britain

Summary: This AUP is written for students in the form of “I will…” statements. It is standard and includes broad expectations at first. It ends with examples of appropriate and inappropriate use of technology as a guideline. Parents and students are expected to sign the document and it appears to be a legal document based on the opening statement included here:


Acceptable use in Singapore

Summary: This AUP is written in positive language and is intended to be easily understood by students. The AUP favors the benefits of technology over the disadvantages of use for school related work. Instead of “I statements” this AUP uses “We statements”. I like how the use of “We statements” emphasizes the importance of holding each other accountable since many technology related school work is completed in a collaborative way.


In conclusion, I believe these acceptable use policies reflect the litiginous nature of the particular area of the country these AUPs are from. I am attracted to the AUPs that are written positively and in a non-punitive way. However, I do realize why guidelines are written in a legalistic way so that school districts can avoid lawsuits in order to focus on using financial and human resources to support learning.


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