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Sunday, May 01, 2005

More on AUPs...

Below are a few more of my responses from this week that might have bits worth posting here.

*******

I believe the insurance industry has a metaphor that is helpful. They do not talk about preventing accidents but rather they speak of risk management. They realize accidents are going to happen and take reasonable measure to minimize the number of accidents and the amount of damage done. In the same way, we are never going to catch all would be violators but we can take reasonable measures to minimize and contain the problem.


I think you've shared a valuable perspective. Teachers and tech coordinators can pour tragic amounts of energy into policing and enforcing a policy with very little results, and lost the interest and respect of some students while they are at it. Further limiting students who would not misuse the internet if they were truly engaged in class can actually make matters worse. I've seen this happen to my successor at the high school where I served as the tech coordinator... he places much greater emphasis on rules and consequences than I ever did, and enjoys more violations (and less respect) for his efforts. Machines now have threatening signs taped to them, yet are even more abused. :(

-Mark

*******

I tend to think AUPs should be more of an educational tool in which there are clearly stated rationale and reasons that promote the responsible use of the Internet.

I strongly agree with this statement. The dedham public schools internet safety policy goes so far as to suggest this advice for dealing with violations:

The Internet has much value in today’s world and is available in many public places including our
libraries. Try to establish consequences that use violations as a teachable moment rather than “pulling the
plug” on all home Internet access.


The philosophy of using the AUP to educate rather than punish students is one that strikes me as not only more prositive and constructive, but also more pragmatic.

-Mark

Reference

Dedham Public Schools Internet Safety Policy Available http://www.dedham.k12.ma.us/elementary/liz/intsafetypol.pdf

*******

The issue of a staff AUP is one I have been interested in for several years. I was never able to get the Newport-Mesa USD to implement one, but a simple google search turned up links to a handful of school staff AUPs. These make not only acceptable use explicit for staff, but (as in the case of the Kern High School District Computer & Network Acceptable Use Policy for Staff) may also define what rights staff have to install software and administer their assigned systems and accounts.

Incidentally, I've worked with IT folks who advocate an AUP for faculty and staff, but who would refuse to sign one themselves, on account of the requirements of their job. In other words, they would not want an AUP to stand in the way of doing their job, and they would not want to be punished for violating an AUP while doing their job. I suppose the same arguments might extend to faculty and staff as well.

I've never had to sign one myself, either.

And even if people were not made to sign, I think a policy (particularly one that focuses on acceptable use) would be a good thing for any organization to have.

-Mark

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