Chaplin (2012)

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Chaplin, H. (2012) Welcoming Mobile: More Districts Are Rewriting Acceptable Use Policies, Embracing Smartphones and Social Media in Schools. Blog post: Spotlight on digital media and learning. (accessed 22-08-2012)

In the last two or three years schools seem to be viewing the web and social media and all the attendant digital tools as something they want to bring into the classroom. You can see this change reflected in a slew of new Acceptable Use Policies (AUPs) across the country that emphasize responsibility over mere acceptance and the implementation of school-wide blogs and even the distribution of smartphones for classroom use.

The COSN paper, “Making Progress: Rethinking State and School District Policies Concerning Mobile Technologies and Social Media.” states: “The advantages of digital media now greatly outweigh the disadvantages and require that schools update their thinking and policies to provide guidance on the use of these tools to improve student learning and achievement.” It simply makes no sense, the paper argues, to try and keep students out of a world – a digital world – that is going to be paramount to how they live and work as adults.

The Children’s Internet Protection Act requires internet filters, but the changing thinking over the last two or three years is that maybe those “filters” aren’t best enforced by draconian AUPs. Jim Klein, of Saugus Union School District in Southern California. Compares the US approach to that of Finland, “They say, our kids’ filters are in their heads. You do this by giving them a safe environment to educate themselves instead of sticking your head in the sand and pretending these technologies don’t exist.”  Klein also said that when he’s building filters, he doesn’t work with the mindset of keeping out every kid who desperately wants to get around them, rather, he sets out to prevent students from accidentally stumbling on something harmful or upsetting.

The Katy Independent School District in Texas recently changed its AUP to focus on “responsible use,” “Digital responsibility is big.” said Darlene Rankin, director of instructional technology, “We’re teaching students how to operate in this new world. We wanted to change the wording in our guidelines because we don’t want students to accept them; we want students to be responsible for them.”