Saturday, May 8, 2010

Social Media and AUPs in Schools

A friend called me recently for advice. He works in a school district and they have been hammering out a revised Acceptable Use Policy (AUP). He described that the discussions on this new AUP been going on for over a year, meetings were now bi-monthly, in complete gridlock and the current draft they were working on had expanded to 11 pages.

I told him a quote from Phillip K. Howard's TED speech: "The constitution is only 16 pages long."

As you might imagine, the AUP draft he sent was loaded with restrictions on web access, programs, hardware, personal devices, restrictions on the use of social media and a long list of resulting penalties.

I told him I felt the document would lead to paralysis and that it was educationally irresponsible for the needs of modern students and educators. The perspective of out of sight, out of mind won't help. Denial of service on such issues is not educational... it's avoidance.

I encouraged him to pass on a series of drafts from other districts to the committee to help them gain some perspective on where neighboring schools were headed educationally. I also recommended that the AUP should be no more than 3 pages, preferably 1. The final that they decide on should be discussed with teachers across the school, and with parents. It should be made part of professional development initiatives to help folks understand the potential pitfalls and strengths. It should not lead to business as usual.

I also offered up that it would be a healthy shift to discuss what they wanted to do educationally rather than simply what they will prevent people from doing.

In sent him the link to Howard's speech below to watch and to pass on to the committee. Howard's speech speaks volumes about refining general principles and goals.

What do you think?

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