Acceptable Use Policies

While many in the education world debate how large of a role technology, specifically the internet, should play in the education of today’s students, few argue that connection to the world at large should be eliminated.  The fact that we now are encouraging and even teaching our students to access and leverage information on the Internet for their personal learning, mean that we must also take the time to create safeguards for the students and for the educational institutions providing the access. The standard method of accomplishing the latter is for the institution to develop an Acceptable Use Policy or AUP.

Not every AUP is identical.  Lisa Nielsen encourages schools to create AUP’s that take into account and address each communities needs by encouraging input from all users of the technology.  On the other hand, many schools and school districts put such decisions and policy making in the hands of lawyers and those less involved in the on the ground use of the technology.

Whatever the method of arriving at a school’s AUP, Education World encourages schools to include the following aspects in an AUP:

  1. Preamble- Sets the tone for the AUP and establishes the purpose, process of development and the goals of the AUP.
  2. Definitions- Helps create clarity by defining any specific terms that have the potential for creating misunderstanding.
  3. Policy Statement- Provides an overview of what the AUP covers and the services that fall under it’s policies.
  4. Acceptable Use Section- Outlines what the institution deems appropriate and acceptable  in terms of student and employee use of school networks.
  5. Unacceptable Use Section- Delineates what students uses are not appropriate for use on school networks and provides examples of such uses.
  6. Violations/Sanctions Section- Describes the outcomes of unacceptable use of the computer network.  Outcomes may be specific or simply refer violations to other school disciplinary systems.

While this set of guidelines are a great start in terms of establishing an AUP, care must be taken to provide each educational community with a set of rules that protect the students and the school and encourage appropriate use.  It is important to listen to the stakeholders and to adapt the policy over time as needed.  While they may not be integral to drafting such a document, getting feedback from school attorneys on the document is a key step.  Once established, introducing the policy to the school community should be done in a thoughtful manner.

Below are examples of Acceptable Use Policies from a variety of educational institutions


EducationWorld. (2011).  Getting Started on the Internet:  Developing an acceptable use policy (AUP).  Retrieved from

Edutopia. (2012). How to Create Social Media Guidelines for Your School. Retrieved from

The Innovative Educator. (2012). Looking to createa  social media or BYOD policy? Look no further. Retrieved from

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