An Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) clarifies proper technology and internet use for students, teachers, and parents. AUPs guide students’ technology use in the classroom. If done well, an AUP becomes a tool that teaches responsible internet use. The school or district will have an overarching AUP in place. However, each classroom should have an AUP as well, as every class, grade, and subject area have their own unique technological needs. If teachers ask for student input on the classroom AUP, students will be more invested in following it. With these tips, teachers and students can craft strong classroom Acceptable Use Policies together.

Get Students Involved

An AUP is a tool for both students and teachers, so get students involved in writing your classroom’s AUP. Students can workshop in small groups or as a class to define what responsible technology use means to them. Then, have students discuss the purpose of an AUP and decide what its goals should be. Auburn University provides an excellent description of the parts and purposes of an Acceptable Use Policy here. Classes can use their model as a base for their own AUPs. By collaborating, teachers and students agree on expectations for tech use in the classroom.

Age-Appropriate AUP Activities

An AUP shouldn’t turn students away. Rather, students should feel that it benefits them. Therefore, it’s essential to make sure that students fully understand each aspect of the AUP and the consequences of breaking it. High school students, for instance, can work in small groups to draft a classroom technology contract based on school and classroom AUPs. Let them move around the classroom reading each contract. Each group’s contract will be a bit different, which will help the class better understand the AUP. Finally, have students share and vote on ideas to create one class contract, which they all sign.

Younger students may not be ready to collaborate on AUPs or classroom contracts. To make your AUP clearer for younger children, try a list with bulleted points. Consider using phrasing like “I am responsible for ….” Not only does this give students a sense of agency, it also reinforces the idea of responsible computer use. Finally, to make sure that students fully understand the AUP, consider designing classroom modules for discussing the AUP. Supplementary materials, such as a glossary and low-stakes quizzes, will also help.

Teachers and Students Working Together

Students need to know the outcomes of failing to follow an AUP. Oak Park and River Forest High School outlines disciplinary actions for students in their online Acceptable Use of Technology Statement. This provides another chance for student input. Students can discuss acts of misconduct and appropriate responses to misconduct. In this way, teachers move away from negative classroom exchanges. Instead, students and teachers move together in the same direction of personal growth. It also shows students the importance of good digital citizenship — and how there can be real-world consequences for inappropriate online behavior.


Text by Annika Bastian


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