Acceptable Use Policy

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Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) for Blogs and School Websites

Devising and using a policy covering the acceptable use of the Internet by students and all users of the school’s ICT is an important step in addressing the issue of online safety at school level. An Internet AUP is a document which addresses all rights, privileges, responsibilities and sanctions associated with the Internet. The Internet AUP details the way students and other users may and may not use the Internet when learning. Ideally it will be drawn up by school staff, students, parents and the Board of Management. A school may choose to incorporate its Internet AUP into the school’s Information Communication Technology (ICT) AUP or it may choose to have a separate Internet AUP.

Internet AUP Template and Safety Education Pack

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Webwise, an Internet Safety initiative provides an AUP advice and an Internet AUP Template. The Webwise Internet Safety Education Pack sent to every school containing the Information & Advice for Schools booklet is also available for download.

For the Internet AUP to be effective it needs to be:

  • Accessible to and understood by all users – (students, staff and guest users).
  • Reviewed and updated on a yearly basis to take into account changing use practices and changing technologies.

Providing learning opportunities to help your students

In order that students understand their rights and responsibilities when online, as well as the sanctions that may apply to misuse of the school’s ICT they will need to be taught about the Internet AUP in class.

Students should be able to “discuss, develop, implement and evaluate an acceptable use policy (AUP ) (e.g. policies and procedures relating to: using the Internet and email; using mobile phones” will help your students “demonstrate an awareness of, and comply with, responsible and ethical use of ICT” (Source: NCCA ICT Framework 2010).

Teaching resources and lesson plans for helping students to understand Safe Use and Responsible Use Rules can be found in the Learning Resource section of Webwise.

As the rationale for having an Internet AUP is primarily to promote good practice and the safe, responsible use of the Internet, it is a very important document, especially in regard to the school website or blog. All contributors to the website/blog should understand how to apply the AUP. The school should agree a Content and Style Guide for all school blog users and make it readily available.

The blog or website should model best practice in digital publishing in order to teach students how to be safe and responsible web publishers and to enable them to be digitally literate while providing the learning opportunities of the NCCA ICT Framework. Webwise teaching and learning resources relating to AUP understanding include:

Copyright and the School Website or Class Blog

Each school must take responsibility for all content on its web site. A school or class blog should link to the curriculum, and where possible include the students’ own work. Current projects and assignments can be performed on the computer and incorporated into blog or web pages in accordance with clear policies and approval processes regarding the content that can be loaded to the blog or website. Students’ work should appear with a Copyright notice or appropriate Creative Commons notice. Where Copyright is applied the student will continue to own the copyright on any work published.

Teacher contributors must also comply with Copyright Law and should always cite their sources and acknowledge the intellectual property of others; doing so will help foster responsible digital publishing practice by students. The photo sharing site ImageBank provides free Creative Commons photos for educational use.

Web Publishing Policy - Protecting Students Online

There are a number of issues to address regarding your role as a publisher on the Internet. When publishing information to a worldwide audience you need to focus on the possible consequences of publishing materials that may be inappropriate. An example of possibly inappropriate material may be a photograph and profile of a child in your class. While there are many reasons that such publishing will enhance this child’s self-esteem, motivation, and application, the dangers may outweigh the potential benefits and may affect the schools Data Protection Policy.

Data Protection Issues

Contributors to the blog should ensure that there is no content such as personal information (home address, contact details) being posted to the blog that compromises the safety of students or staff. The school should also consider how digital and video images are captured and stored within the school, and if images of pupils are published on the school website how The Data Protection Act (2003 and 1988) might apply.

The schools data protection policy is relevant here and schools can consult the Data Protection in Schools Website which has guidelines on taking and using Images/Photos. Also this Good Practice Note which is aimed at those working in schools concerns some of the data protection issues associated with a school website but the Data Protection in Schools Website should be consulted for the most up to date guidelines.

Sample AUP Guidelines for the School Blog, Website or Online Learning Spaces

These notes may be a useful starting point, each school will have to adapt a template for its own school and students.

  • Students will be given the opportunity to publish projects, artwork or school work on the World Wide Web in accordance with clear policies and approval processes regarding the content that can be loaded to the school’s website or class blog.
  • A school website using facilities such as a blog, comments or noticeboard will be checked frequently to ensure that no personal details are contained or posted.
  • The publication of student work will be co-ordinated by a teacher; all use of the Internet will be supervised by a teacher.
  • Students’ work will appear in an educational context on Web pages with copyright notice prohibiting the copying of such work without express written permission.
  • All users of the school or class website or blog will comply with copyright restrictions in regard to use of work that is not their own.
  • The school and teacher will endeavour to use digital photographs, audio or video clips focusing on group activities. Content focusing on individual students will not be published on the school website without parental permission. The school website will avoid publishing the first name and last name of individuals in a photograph.
  • Personal student information including home address and contact details will be omitted from school web or blog pages.
  • The school and teacher will ensure that the image files are appropriately named and will not use students’ names in image file names or ALT tags if published on the web.