Moving from an acceptable use policy (AUP) to a responsible use policy (RUP)

Laptops and other forms of technology have been in our schools for years now, and no doubt so too have been Acceptable Use Policies (AUP). AUP’s have often fit the mold of ‘follow these instructions or else,’ where a child follows set instructions that are often written in a negative restrictive way.

Sure, we don’t want any of our students doing anything inappropriate while using digital tools, especially when these behaviors affect others. On the flip side, we also want to empower our students, and there isn’t a lot of empowerment in a contract that tells them not to do a bunch  of things, or else.

A Responsible Use Policy (RUP) is simply an AUP with a positive twist. Just as educational psychologists and counselors are looking more towards resilience and positive psychology when working with youth, so too can we reframe a district, board, and/or school AUP into being one which reframes the ‘mandatory requirements’ into responsibilities.

Here’s an example from the Edmonton Catholic School District of a RUP that does a good job of minimizing negative top-down language, instead reframing the document as a contract in which students, learning and practicing good digital citizenship, are responsible for their actions.
Digital Citizenship Policy Development Guide – Created by the Alberta Provincial Government, this guide has excellent information related to creating policy around a digital citizenship oriented school, with specifics around the creation of a RUP.

Bringing Acceptable Use Policies into the 21st Century – This article adds additional information on how an AUP is created, who it’s stakeholders are, and how to reframe it so it works in tandem with a comprehensive digital citizenship program.