Acceptable Use & Internet Safety

     As we begin this course on Internet Tools for Teaching, it was helpful this week to review the Children’s Internet Protection Act and our own school district’s policy for Acceptable Use of the Internet. The Quakertown Community School District’s Acceptable Use Policy is very thorough and, as far as I understand CIPA laws, covers all the bases. Here is how QCSD policy aligns with the CIPA requirements for a school acceptable use policy:

CIPA requires a policy that address:                             QCSD policy:

access by minors to inappropriate matter on the   Internet Prohibits use of the network to access   obscene or pornographic material. If a student “accidentally”   links to an inappropriate web site he/she should close the site, note the   date and time of the incident, and report it to a teacher.
the safety and security of minors when using electronic   mail, chat rooms and other forms of direct electronic communications Board policy states that “Internet safety measures shall effectively   address safety and security of minors when using electronic mail, chat rooms,   and other forms of direct electronic communications.” At this time there   is nothing more specifically related to these forms of direct electronic   communications, because they are blocked from our students’ netbooks /   laptops.
unauthorized access, including so-called “hacking,” and   other unlawful activities by minors online Prohibits:

  •   Use of the network   to intentionally obtain or modify files, passwords, and data belonging to   other users.
  •   Impersonation of   another user, anonymity, and pseudonyms.
  •   Use of the network   to disrupt the work of other users.
  •   Destruction,   modification, or abuse of network hardware and software.
unauthorized disclosure, use, and dissemination of   personal information regarding minors States that “student users shall not reveal personal addresses   or telephone numbers to other users on the district network, or to other   individuals, companies or organizations on the Internet.
measures restricting minors’ access to materials   harmful to them States that “any district computer/server utilized by students   and staff shall be equipped with Internet blocking/filtering software.”

There is not a procedure delineated in this QCSD document for what rules a teacher needs to apply when using new technologies with students. Nor is it stated in this document a process providing for circumstances under which a teacher can bypass school filters.

From my own experience  using Skype, blogs and e-pals with my high school German classes, our tech people have been very helpful in assisting me to learn how to use and teach my students how to use these tools with my German classes so we could communicate with native-speaker teenagers in Germany and Switzerland. They also helped me to craft documents for parent permission and student acceptable use specific to those types of projects.

Over the last several years, my district has gone from a very restrictive filter (”Bess”) when I taught in the middle schools, to a much more user-friendly approach to blocking and filtering through the server (so that instead of students bumping into “Bess”, they simply can’t access things like YouTube and e-mail). But at the same time they have allowed teacher access to pretty much everything, which makes it much easier for us to find and use internet resources with our classes. I rarely bump into things now that deny me access. Most recently Glogster (the regular version) and Blogger did not allow me access. But my tech people were quick to direct me to the Glogster.edu version and Word Press, so that I still have access to those kinds of tools, just different ones that our server allows. When we come up against something that doesn’t allow us access, all we need to do is e-mail a tech person and they can either direct us to a different resource (like happened in my case) or have the website reviewed and possibly opened up based on the decision of the reviewer.

My district’s policy very much promotes the use of new technologies in the classroom. Our administration is very supportive of cutting-edge technologies and encourages us to implement them and share with our colleagues what is working well so others can do the same. We have recently begun using Blackboard and Google Apps, and we have a 1:1 initiative whereby every student in the high school will have their own (district-owned and supported) laptop to use in the classroom.

References

Quakertown Community School District Board Policy http://www.psba.org/districts_policies/q/498/POLQUAC250.pdf

The Children’s Internet Protection Act: http://www.fcc.gov/guides/childrens-internet-protection-act

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2 thoughts on “Acceptable Use & Internet Safety

  1. It seems your district has made some changes as technology has advanced! That is great! I like to hear that the administration is supportive and that teachers are using new technologies such as epals and blogs! Great write up — I really like how you compared your AUP side by side with CIPA at the beginning!

  2. Pingback: Protecting Children While Instituting Change | Gridjumper's Blog

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