For the final project I took advantage of an offer from Donna Frose and worked with a group (Donna Frose, Jennifer Coleman, and Susan Richey) on developing an Acceptable Use Policy. After some research and discuss we decided to call our version of this document an Empowering Use Policy. We each selected three or four schools around the world and we examined their policies with regard to computer use. It was interesting to see the range of philosophies when it came to describing a school’s approach to how to deal with technology.
There were many surprises in the research phase of this project. The school where I work, Breck School, wins the award for longest policy with regard to computer usage. Breck’s AUP is part admissions document, part philosophy, and part business office checklist about what will happen if the computer is damaged. Okay, so we are conservative mid-westerners, perhaps it is not shocking that we are on the trailing edge of policy formation. I was surprised that the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, also had a policy that was heavier on what not to do as compared with guidelines stated in a positive manner. While the school is progressive, perhaps their policy on computer usage is influenced by being a member of the Philadelphia Public School System.
On the positive side, I liked the policy of United Nations International School of Hanoi has a policy that has five points that are stated in a positive manner (Respect Yourself, Protect Yourself, Respect Others, Protect Others, and Respect Intellectual Property). The policy is short; it is barely half a page, but I feel it covers the central philosophical points, without listing lots of negatives.
My favorite philosophy was from the NIST International School of Thailand. I have their philosophy pictured to the left. I love the fact that their philosophy is short and positively stated. Rather than having policy that was shaped by the school’s legal department, this philosophy seems to have been created by educators who are setting positive standards to live up to.
Our final product is also stated in positive terms, but it is organized under the ten guiding principles of the IB school program. This format was new, and somewhat clumsy for me to work with. For example, the first three categories are “Inquirers, Knowledgable, and Thinkers.” These three seem to me to be pretty thinly sliced. People who ask questions are clearly seeking knowledge and or thinking about topics. In my perfect world, I won’t have had so many different categories.
Susan, Jennifer, and Donna did the lion’s share of the writing in the drafting stage of our final document. In retrospect, I don’t know how I missed contributing, but my name doesn’t show up until the editing process. Susan but all our ideas into a unified voice and then I edited and we all went over the final document making suggestions.
I came away from this project with two takeaways. One is about the process of working with a group and the second is about our subject matter. First, I need to do a better job of attending to important details. While I took lots of notes in my notebook, I failed to grasp that I was to be entering what I was learning on the Google Table for our project. That makes me the weak link in the group, and that is not a role I relish or chose to repeat. My second learning is that I love that there are schools who are brave enough to state their expectations of students in positive terms as opposed to a laundry list of don’t’s. I find that encouraging and it makes me want to share those type of policies with the people with whom I work.