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Acceptable Use Policies in Web 2.0 & Mobile Era

posted Apr 8, 2011, 8:03 AM by Martin Cisneros

A Guide for School Districts

Information and communications technologies (ICT) policies in schools have two dimensions. One is to ensure that students are protected from pernicious materials on the Internet. The other is to enable student access to the extensive resources on the Internet for learning and teaching. While these two dimensions are not intrinsically in conflict, in actuality, such can become the case.

There is a wide range of restrictiveness with regard to Internet access in school districts across the U.S. A critical concern is: How can we best assure that students will not be affected by pornography, hate sites, sexual or physical harassment, and other pernicious sites and situations that exist on the Internet? Some districts believe that the best way to do this is to rely on blocking and filtering to eliminate access to harmful sites. Other districts take a different policy stand. While they also use blocking and filtering that federal law requires, their policy is based on the premise that children need to learn how to be responsible users and that such cannot occur if the young person has no real choice. School personnel who take this stand contend that students need to acquire the skills and dispositions of responsible Internet usage and to be held accountable for their behavior. Moreover, those holding this position contend that restrictive school networks may provide more of an appearance of protection than reality since they can be bypassed by students. Schools with less restrictive environments often distinguish between the restrictiveness appropriate for older and younger students since young children may stumble across sites they ought not visit.  Learn more...