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Acceptable Internet Use in Schools

Acceptable Internet Use in Schools

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Published by: Velvet Purdy-Ferrari on Feb 05, 2012
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Acceptable Internet Use In SchoolsThe internet is a vast, global network, that links computers at schools, colleges, homes,and other sites. Through the internet, one can communicate with people all over the worldthrough interactive websites, blogs, video conferencing, podcasts, email, etc which offer authentic opportunities for students to express and share information. In addition, manyeducationally valuable files may be accessed through the Internet. Because of its enormous sizeand resources, the Internet¶s educational potential is boundless. There is also potential for accessto materials unacceptable for student use. Some material accessible on the Internet may containitems that are illegal, defamatory, inaccurate, or potentially offensive to some people.Bringing technology into the classroom can be a powerful, if not frightening, process.Along with all the wonderful resources available on the Internet there are some things parentsand teachers may not want their children and students to experience. As a resource for teachersit is astonishing. Lesson plans by subject area, reproducible worksheets, and online activities at aclick of a button are all available. Obviously, students also have a vast resource in the Internet -they can develop their computer skills, take online field trips, do research, or correspond.By using the Internet in the classroom, students now have access to information notavailable in most school libraries. Students¶ horizons are expanded without ever leaving theconfines of the classroom.With the positives comes the negatives. The Internet has its dangers. There are online predators, cyber harassment and bullying to worry about. Not to mention the sites that can beobjectionable for racial, sexist, political, sexual, or other reasons. The Internet is accessible tothe public. Unfortunately, this includes people who may want to communicate with students for inappropriate purposes or under false pretenses. Students must be cautious and prudent about
 
 
supplying personal information. In particular, students should never arrange a personal meetingwith a person whom they meet on-line.Most people do not realize that the Internet is an international linking of networks that isimpossible to 100% censor. Thus schools, parents, and educators must rely on other means tosafely use the Internet as an educational tool.Many communities are implementing policies that guide student, teacher, and staff use of technological resources so as to limit liability and restrict access to those resources that aredeemed ³appropriate´ for educational use. One option is to limit access to sites through filteringor blocking software. Unfortunately, students who are growing up in the computer age oftenhave the skills and means to bypass such software. Restricting access to resources brings upconcerns of censorship. Additionally, many educators find filtering and blocking annoying aseducationally legitimate sites are often blocked due to image or text content.Instead of banning or blocking, many schools are turning to another method - that of  proactive education. By teaching students responsible behavior, asking them to sign anagreement, and providing written descriptions of the consequences for wrongful action, studentsdevelop a sense of ownership for their online experiences. These type of agreements are calledAcceptable Use Policies - otherwise known as AUPs.At the school level, an AUP acts as a written contract between administrators, teachers, parents, and students. It outlines the terms and conditions for acceptable Internet use by definingaccess privileges, rules of online behavior, and the consequences for violating those rules. TheAUP can also be a helpful tool for teachers offering guidance on how to best integrate theInternet into their classrooms. Georgia schools are required to create and implement
 
 
³acceptable-use policies´ in regards to Internet use. Any Georgia school that does not submit anapproved policy to the school board, and implement it, will have all state funds revoked.The focus of the AUP should be on the responsible use of computer networks. Suchnetworks include both the Internet (the World Wide Web, external e-mail, and so on) and anyIntranets (classroom networks, communications between classes within a school or district,library catalogue and database access, etc.).In order to ensure greater ownership of the AUP and its successful implementation, it isimportant that staff, parents, governors and pupils are all involved in discussions about whatshould be included in it.According to the the US Department of Education¶s online Alphabet Superhighway,AUPs should include:
 
³A description of the instructional philosophies, strategies and goals to be supported byInternet access in schools
 
An explanation of the availability of computer networks to students and staff members inyour school or district
 
A statement about the educational uses and advantages of the Internet
 
An explanation of the responsibilities of educators and parents for students' use of theInternet
 
A code of conduct governing behavior on the Internet
 
An outline of the consequences of violating the AUP
 
A description of what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable use of the Internet
 
A description of the rights of individuals using the networks in your school/district (suchas the right to free speech, right to privacy, and so on)

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