Recently, I presented at a school on an opening day for teachers where the first thing that greeted everyone on the table in the lobby was an 8-page Acceptable Use Policy which staff members were picking up as they filed into the school. I picked one up too, and when I had a moment I started paging through it, looking at all the ways in which students (and teachers) could get themselves in trouble on the school network. The middle three pages were filled with an A-Y double spaced list (guess they were saving room for one more rule next year) which spelled out the many transgressions that were not going to be tolerated, things like people shouldn’t be harassing one another, going around the filter, accessing shopping sites, accessing any sites that were “social in nature” and, the big one, downloading software to school computers for personal use. And much, much more.
Frankly, I couldn’t help thinking that if I was a student in this district, I think I would actually beg NOT to get a computer. Between the filters and the restrictions, I had a hard time imagining what I would be able to use them for in ways that would actually stimulate my learning. I’d rather take my chances with my phone and my computer at home. (About 90% of students in this district had access from home.)
But the other part that struck me was what this policy said about the curriculum in that district. I wondered aloud to some administrators and teachers later if the stiff policies spoke volumes about what they weren’t teaching in their classrooms K-12 as their students went through the system. I mean wouldn’t it seem that if kids were taught throughout the curriculum about the ethical and appropriate use of computers and the Internet that much more of that policy could be spent going over what students could actually do with the computer rather than the “don’t dos” that were listed? At that point, we’d probably have to change the name to an “Admirable Use Policy” or something, but imagine if students walked in on the first day of class, picked up that policy and read things like:
“Do use our network to connect to other students and adults who share your passions with whom you can learn.”
“Do use our network to help your teachers find experts and other teachers from around the world.”
“Do use our network to publish your best work in text and multimedia for a global audience.”
“Do use our network to explore your own creativity and passions, to ask questions and seek answers from other teachers online.”
“Do use our network to download resources that you can use to remix and republish your own learning online.”
“Do use our network to collaborate with others to change the world in meaningful, positive ways.”
Etc. (Add your own below.)
Now, obviously, that would mean that the curriculum would be preparing students to do that all along, But I’m thinking that if I was a student and I read those “dos”Â on the first day of school, I’d be itching to get to class.
Colin Jagoe says
Spot on here! Why do we insist on phrasing things this way. We come across as automatically negative, and the learning is shut off before it even begins. In our district, we just re-vamped our AUP and we did make a concerted effort to include more of the Please Do’s and get rid of some of the Don’ts It didn’t turn out perfect, but its a start. We’ve still a long way to go.
At the start of each school year, instructors across all grade levels are encouraged to introduce their set of rules and expectations in a positive list of “Do’s” rather than a negative list of “Don’ts”. This way, we can set the year off on a more nurturing and positive note, instead of making students feel like they are always breaking a rule or up against authority — their teachers who care about their growth as students and young individuals. This philosophy aligns well with what Will promotes here, so I definitely agree!
As much as I rant about the filters and polices in my district, it only takes a story like this one to remind me that we have it pretty good. Not perfect, not where it should be, but pretty good.
We don’t yet subscribe to many of the ideas on Will’s “Do” list (I’ll be stealing it for the next planning meeting I attend :-). But our one page (front and back) AUP also doesn’t have a long laundry list of Dont’s. And, to some degree, we still encourage and support teachers in their experimentation with web tools. Again, not as much as we should but still better than many districts.
Natalie Wojinski says
I recently read my district’s AUP and was surprised to see that it was not much different than the one I read seven years ago. It is all ‘don’ts.’ I have to agree that if students take the time to read this document, they will be turned off to technology use in the classroom. Truthfully, most classrooms in my district are not equipped to facilitate the tech use described above. Introductory computer classes have been all but eliminated because they don’t address content standards, nor do they prepare children for “the tests.” I am further concerned about my district’s insistence on blocking anything that smacks of collaboration or social networking when districts just a few miles away have much more open and tolerant policies.
Jerry Swiatek says
I can speak from experience on this one. For the past 4 years, I was the technology specialist at a public high school. This past year, that position was eliminated and I was required to work in the classroom for 1/2 of the day teaching Freshman World Geography. I’ve never been in a classroom before, so this was going to be a new experience for me. At the beginning of the school year, I received my room assignments (since I was not in a classroom full-time, I had to “float” into 2 different rooms.) Neither of these rooms had computers and I knew I wanted to be a paperless classroom since I loved the things that Shelly Blake-Plock (@teachpaperless) was doing with his students. I was able to convince administration to allow me to use our Gifted English teacher’s room and our Drafting Lab, both of which had enough computers for all of my students. We have been using blogs, wikis and email all year long. I’ll be introducing and using Twitter with them in the next couple of weeks. We are participating in the Flat Clasroom Project this year. I have permission from my administration to use mobile technologies in our classrooms, in a district that bans them. I have been given permission by administration to give an “alternate assessment” for their final exam…they will present, to the class, their ePortfolios (wikis) as their final exam rather than the typical multiple choice scantron exam.
Bottom line here is…I have virtually nothing but DOs in my class and the difference in my students is remarkable. Most of my students are, what would be typically known as, lower level students. Some of them frequently get in trouble in other classes, have MANY tardies in those same classes, or are skipping some of their other classes altogether. Thus far, 4 weeks into the school year, I’ve had to wonder if I’m teaching those same kids. I enjoy having EVERY SINGLE one of them in my class (how many teachers can say that about their kids.) I have had ZERO discipline issues and ZERO tardy issues. They are engaged and stay on task nearly 100% of the time. Students that have been regarded as “poor students” throughout their academic career, are excelling in this environment.
I contacted a parent the other day to speak to her about her son. He is an ESE student who, for the first week of school, was very reserved and wouldn’t even look at you when you spoke to him. The past 3 weeks, however, he’s been a different student. Out of his seat helping other students add items to their blogs or wikis. Many times, I have to ask him to make sure he has his done before going to help others. When I mentioned this to her, she was SHOCKED almost to the point of being emotional. Her son is 14 and has never been this way in any of his classes. He is extremely comfortable in this environment and loves using the technology we’ve been using…and it shows…big time.
My first month in the classroom has been amazing and I owe it to all of the DOs I have in my class. Does it go smoothly all of the time? Of course not. Do some students watch the Kanye West dissing Taylor Swift video on YouTube when they should be doing their work? Of course they do.
But this experience has shown me that THIS IS THE WAY students should be learning…
Will Richardson says
Thanks so much for this story…gives us some hope. ;0) When I was in the classroom, I tried to make as much as I could a “do” not a don’t. That’s why it’s depressing to see my kids come home on opening day with rules and regs that spell out the don’ts. We even got them on back to school night. I wish every kid would hear the message “Do whatever you want or need to do to learn, just do it safely and ethically.
Delane Bauer says
Very well said, Thank You! Gives me a little more horsepower to keep banging away at ‘the system’.
Pat Hamblett says
What an inspiring story… Not to be a wet blanket — What do your peers think about your success? Has anyone asked how they can follow your lead? It seems that your administration is supportive — what a great opportunity for them to use your success as a beacon for ‘best practices’.
Paperless, collaboration, communication, real-life (I hate that term) experiences, cutting edge technology — your students have it all! Of course they’re thriving…
It’s about having passion and the willingness to do what’s right for kids. This is their world and teachers should value helping them be the best they can be.
Congratulations! You are an inspiration!
I agree with you . I believe that the role of the teacher is not to teach but to let the students learn . It is not only by using the Don’t do or the Do theory, it is that theroy of trying every thing to let them follow and learn without giving them the feeling that they have to turn off and don’t think about the boring school . Technology is a good tool which can help in making from the class a good atmosphere without scaring the students and letting them run away and not ready to follow. I beileive that the experience of the teacher must feed that way of finding the good way to let the students follow and show interest when being with the teacher.
Last year, my high school Current Events students told me that the more rules the school made, the more they, the students, would look for ways around the rules.
Education in cyber safety and good digital citizenship is the ONLY workable solution. It’s a matter of control vs. informed decision-making.
Stacey Nykamp says
As many schools fight so hard to keep the internet locked to only a few approved and unlocked sites so students will keep on task and not be getting into any danger while at school, or in any trouble. It’s true the more restrictions a school has on their internet the harder students search for loop holes. I remember in a class I was in when computers were locked many students had found ways around the locks and soon enough the whole class was checking out their myspace and facebook’s.
Schools try so hard to prevent students to NOT do things that the more they are tempted to do it. Taking away that temptation for students who have a mind of their own such as students in high school or even middle school will make them want to try to get around it more.
What would happen if the blocks were limited and students could roam the internet? What if the Don’t were limited to 5 instead of the Do’s?
This reminds me of my district and it’s promotion to go paperless. While teachers are able to use IDs to enter the building, we must then go to the main office to sign in on paper. And, all important student counts are done…on paper although we do have student data software and register students online. Yep, we’re going to go paperless.
We encourage teachers to build a classroom of respect by focusing on the positive expectations and not the negative- so why shouldn’t the school’s learning community reflect the same starting with the AUP- I’ve always believed that in order to build a learning community we need to start at the top, district level.
Your post is especially appropriate for me this week. As I spent many hours on my master’s learning the need for technology in the classroom, yet at the same time I ended up spending many hours training in two reading programs to help struggling readers in my classroom. I have to wonder if our educational system were not so far behind and had kept up with technology if my 9th and 12th graders would still need reading remediation.
I feel the urgency in your post. It reminds me of my principal telling me just this week to “be careful” with blogs and to be sure to “go through the appropriate channels” to use the Internet in my classroom.
We’re stiffling our kids.
Jonathan Wylie says
An interesting post. At the elementary stage we have long been encouraged to make our classroom rules dos instead of donts. Why not extend this to the standard AUPs?! With a bit of creativity you could still get the same message across.
Gary S. Stager says
Why do you think that a school district would hire a Web enthusiast such as yourself and simultaneously impose restrictions rendering the Web useless?
Will Richardson says
I don’t think they are much different from most, Gary. They do it because they are at the beginning (I hope) of a larger conversation around change. Or, they do it to give them a sense that they are “doing something.” Or, I’m sure you’ll tell me what else. ;0)
Jeff Mozdzierz says
Unfortunately I think district AUPs are merely a reflection of the broader society and the fact that common sense has flown out the window.
There have been too many times that my administrators or I have had to refer to detailed student codes of conduct or AUPs when dealing with students or parents.
Sure I would love to have an AUP that simply states staff and students would use technology in an ethical manner to support their education or job… but the minute someone in the minority 10% who doesn’t … I’m outta luck trying to enforce “ethical behavior” hence the 8 page AUP.
I guess it is no different that than the real world and having a speed limit set at 55 mph and everyone drives 80 mph until they see the police sitting on the side of the road with the radar gun…
Gary S. Stager says
Why have an acceptable use policy at all? Surely, it doesn’t actually protect a school from litigation.
The stack of printed school rules that seem to grow exponentially each year are symptomatic of other psychoses that view students an sometimes their teachers, as the enemy of order and school accountability.
I do not see this getting better through rational discussion when the protagonists are acting out of fear, ignorance and paranoia.
Schools might actually consider refraining from Internet use if their leadership lack the maturity and logic required to get out of the way. An expensive system that fails to deliver what kids expect outside of school educates no one, but raises levels of antagonism between kids and school.
Gary S. Stager says
I don’t think your analogy is apt because there has not been a comparable rational risk assessment of Internet use. Dying or killing others is unlikely.
School network policies are much more like buying every kid in a school a new car employing countless mechanics, paying for the gas and locking up the keys in the central office.
Jeff Mozdzierz says
I have to disagree with your prior two posts. The reason school rules grow exponentially is not how we view our staff or students but is usually because of the 10% of the population that causes 90 % of problems.
There may be better analogies, but the fact is rules exist to deal with the minority that does not apply “common sense” to the situation.
GS stated: “I donâ€™t think your analogy is apt because there has not been a comparable rational risk assessment of Internet use. Dying or killing others is unlikely.”
But there have been staff and students hack into the network, alter grades, bully other students, download and illegal files and much more.
I’m not saying it is perfect the way it is… it is just reality… and like everyone else who has posted.. I am trying to make the reality a little better in my district
Marc Prensky says
Cathy Nelson says
Wonder how many no’s will accompany e-books when they come. I really think with cost of netbooks down down down its only a matter of time before netbooks replace textbooks–at least it’s a dream I have.
Tom Whitby says
Thanks for this. Well stated!
It would indeed promote the use of the computers for positive things. I can understand that only reading “don’ts” can be very daunting and probably put students off from trying to use the computers.
Solution: have the Dos first, then have the dont’s (fashioned in a sensible manner) a few pages down the track.
Leia Fee says
We’ve just rewritten our (adult learners) acceptbale use policy with “Web 2.0 Friendly” in mind.
Would be interested in feedback and comparisions with others.
This is the current state of play on it:
ITeC Draft AUP
Our previous one was very much “don’t” — and the list of don’ts had grown steadily longer and longer over the years as learners found new ways to “skive” as we saw it. It was a barn-door-closing exercises, not something to aspire to. We’re hoping the new one is more positive.
Will Richardson says
Thanks for sharing that. I still think it would be interesting for your students to see, exactly, the types of things you want them to do with the connection. What does learning look like on your network?
Leia Fee says
Well we’re focussed around a combination of IT/JobSeeking/Key Skills/Literacy/Numeracy elements. We’re mostly teaching unemployed adults looking to get back into work and/or change career into IT, and school leavers who for whatever reason have come out of compulsory education lacking either qualifications or the ‘soft skills’ to progress onto traditional further education or the workplace. We do apprenticeship pgrams and things like that.
They use a combiantion of Moodle (with resources pulled from literally all over the place!), multimedia training software and we use three differnt lots of blogs (one for training news and to act as a learning “portal”, one for them to reflect on their learning, write about their progress and so forth, and others which they create themselves as groupwork and part of their ICT Key Skills qualification.
What we want is for them to become independant learners — they’re going to need to be to have any hope of getting, and keeping a job in IT!
And in spite of all that we still initially fell into the trap of using the AUP as a backside-covering document and disciplinary “weapon”!
I do rather like the idea of putting some concrete examples in there. Must look at that in the next draft.
Don Burkins says
There is “instructional-think” and “liability-think.” AUP’s are, of course, normally crafted as part of the latter. Perhaps we could deputize you, Will, to check in with some lawyers on how to introduce the positives in a legally defensible way (like those you’ve listed) into a legal document intended to frame the limits and protect against liability claims? PS – thanks to Jerry Swiatek – great story!
Patricia Plummer says
well stated and appreciated. In defense of the school, at least the one I work at, presently we do not have access to broadband. Despite letters sent to senators from administration and promises from the state and government , our rural school district is out of the loop because providing broadband to our area is not profitable. Therefore our students and teachers are extremely limited in what they can allow on the computers during the school day.Too much traffic and it crashes. Why isn’t the government…someone…making sure that these services are provided to give every student/teacher equitable opportunities to thrive in the 21st century?
Karen Stearns says
Pat makes a very good point. We’re still in that transition phase aren’t we? The early adapters are on board and the line forms somewhere to the right of those initiators. We live in a country where we can build billion (I said billion) dollar football stadiums to watch an elite group of oversized men (sorry!) throw balls and knock each other down but universal health care is too $$ and socialist plot. Duh!! Broadband! We’ve got really serious problems.
Schools have always been about regulating bodies (Foucault is brilliant on this one) and, sadly, minds. Why, for example, is discipline still the #1 concern of my student teachers before they head out to schools?? That would be last on my list.
Will, thanks as always for a provocative post. Karen
Nancy Flanagan says
Excellent post–and I appreciate all the comments about schools’ default modes of regulation and control. Prevention and reproduction is what schools do and have always done. It would not occur to most school officials to actually promote unrestricted learning, because they’ve been doing the reverse for such a long time.
However. While I agree that we’re in an (involuntary) transition phase, let’s not let early adopters off the hook or characterize them as wise elders in this discussion. Lots of early adopters are still stuck in a “tools! more tools! free tools!” cycle–enjoying their elite senior status as go-to tech whiz in their schools and contributing more than anyone to the list of don’ts.
In suggesting that early adopters get it, but teachers just sticking a toe into smart technology use don’t, we’re perpetuating another (damaging) myth: experienced technology users are better teachers.
Courtney Maida says
I think that this is another one of those concepts that seems as though it should be in place and seems obvious once reading it, yet it is entirely overlooked. Why can’t we have the “do’s” rather than the “don’ts”? From what I’m learning in my 4 education courses this semester, schools are WAY behind where they should be. There is such an unwillingness to actually USE these tools that are in schools. Why create 50 rules as to how NOT to use them, and in essence, kill any potential for students to grow technologically? I think this post brings up a crucial point and shows why it is so necessary for us future educators to really grasp what is being taught and try to implement as much as possible once we get into our own classrooms.
I think the term should be “Unacceptable Use Policy”.
I just can’t get past the rule of no sites that are social in nature. Personally, I can’t think of any site at all that isn’t social in nature. Each website is made by people for use of other people, so doesn’t that make every site social???
Wow! This is exactly what needs to be talked about with lots of districts! Too often educators in schools have a heart attack when you mention the use of technology in the classroom, but the reality is that students’ lives are on the computer now, so we can accept that and move with society (notice how I didn’t say trend–this is CLEARLY not a trend), or we can be left behind and take our students with us. Teachers shouldn’t be afraid to use the computers; they should embrace them and harness the great power they have if used properly!
Jane Kokernak says
The “don’t, don’t don’t” message makes me think of how college composition courses try to “teach” citation practices by leading with the dangers of plagiarism, instead of first promoting our shared values about academic honesty and integrity.
When I was in High School we had just this problem. If you wanted to look on a website for something to do with class or a research paper it was hard to find one that you were able to use with out having the teacher unblock it for you. I understand that we need to have some filters but it was completely rediculous at times.
Fantastic post. We have our first meeting of our iPAC group (the 9 teachers in our district charged with “Transforming Teaching and Learning through Innovative Uses of Technology” (the title of our Ning group home page), and I plan on referencing your post every time I hear a “don’t” or even worse a “we can’t”.
Dr. Sanford Aranoff says
With all the talk about teaching, we must understand the basis of teaching. Teachers must understand how students think, and build from there using basic principles. See “Teaching and Helping Students Think and Do Better” on amazon.
Kobus van Wyk says
The indiscretions of some teachers and students unfortunately makes it necessary to establish rules. In South African schools bandwidth is limited – and very expensive! Imagine a school with a 3 Gig cap (per month) with a teacher who downloads music videos and movies for private use … a few days into the month the cap is reached. The only way to curtail that is with a list of “do’s” … and regrettably the list grows as the offenders become bolder. This is a most unfortunate situation, and contrary to our educational objectives to ensure digital inclusion of our learners – but the rules are necessitated by a few who violate ICT facilities in their schools.
stephen morgan says
Unfortunately, the negativity with which teachers usually meet when trying to use technology is a deterrent. There is little support from the administration in many schools. I have been one who was hesitant to try to use new untested methods because it is discouraged. On top if that, new teachers have to be careful not to ‘rock the boat’ in a new school. Jobs are very scarce, and the idea of trying to push the envelope with new technology takes a back seat to job security.
Amy Gay says
As educators, it is important that we are able to connect lessons to students’ interests. Both teachers and students need to be open-minded to new ways of learning. although not every student will continue to use the technology, at least they know what is available to them to help aid in their education. You cannot teach everything in a stuffy classroom; the internet can expand the minds of students and educators when used properly.
Joel Adkins says
Thanks to my friend Carolyn to passing this blog post to me.
This year, I turned that 7 page document into an online Google Presentation to remove the need to waste so much paper. Really, the AUP is reduced to one page of need: the signature that says you read it.
See our AUP here: http://www.kerrvilleisd.net/pages/Instructional_Technology
With it online, we made a separate Google Form to gather a “digital signature” from all staff who were required to show that they understood the information. After hitting submit, staff were informed that by filling out the online form they had individually saved 7 pieces of paper. I also informed them about how easy this type of documentation was to create and to contact me if they wanted further help in learning the tools.
Since this one 7-page packet went online, the district is migrating to more online resources and moving away from paper.
While all this is good and well for the environment, it doesn’t make the AUP any easier to “sell”. The start of the year is difficult to educate all teachers and staff on the value of proper computer use when they are already overwhelmed with all the other documentation and presentations they must attend to.
I tried to reduce the number of “Thou Shall Not” messages but I still had to fall back on them to make the message more concise. I wish we had the time we needed to go over technology and social responsibilities but we don’t. Those lessons come throughout the year as we model technology use, as we educate students and staff about cybersafety, and as we deal with the day-to-day issues that surround technology use in all our users hands.
Wow! This was shocking, but at the same time not. I think it’s rather dissappointing that schools still lag behind while the rest of the world jumps ahead. The students of today have a digital brain, so why are so many teachers suppressing their (students) minds? Food for thought. I think if I were to add to your “to do list,” I would add DO: interact with others on a global network and create imaginative forms of communication through technology.
I think you are completely right, this list would have been much more effective it consisted mainly of ‘do’s’ rather than ‘don’ts.’ Have you made the suggestion to make this change?
Good writing Will!
Trina K. says
Wow! This will be shared with many in my district . . . starting with my own administrator! Don’t worry. You’ll be properly cited. 😉
Keep up the thought-provoking blogging.
Mike Z says
Thank you for the “do list” I will post it in the labs.
After reading your blog, I immediately put myself in the shoes of the students. Children, in the classroom reading what they can and can not do, and I went back to when I was in elementary school and how I would react if I was that age. I know the first thing that came to mind when I would see a “don’t” would be that I had to do! Rather then list all the don’ts I would stick with a positive list that children will follow and use as a reference, because at that point children may not even think about the “don’ts” that are listed above. What gets them thinking about it, is the fact that they are there. And when a child is told not to do something, they become more curious as to why. Personally, creating a list that involves more positive then negative aspects will show further progress.
Jayme L says
I completely agree…I use to do this when I first started teaching. The first day of school I would ask the students to list everything that they could do in the classroom and along with that we would make classroom rules. Through the years the what we can do slowly disappeared probably due to time. On Monday, I am going to have my students make lists and posters to hang in the room of everything we can do in the classroom, hopefully it will turn our year around and make it more positive and engaging for the students.
I am currently studying to be a teacher at a University in Nebraska and I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed beginning my TE 206 class without a list of rules for the computer. Learning is a beautiful thing and should always be encouraged. Why give a 10th grader a list of dont’s when we should be showing students all the possibilities available to them. Students are much smarter then they are given credit for and if they can find a way to bend a rule, more then likely, they will take a chance at bending it. The more “dont’s” teachers throw at them, the more turned-off they may become to learning, which would be very unfortunate.
Kevin Temple says
Recently, my district told me that students should not be using google on school computers. I don’t know how much more of this nonsense I can take.
Amanda N says
As an early childhood educator you are told on your first day of college (and everyday thereafter) to use postive instead of negative. This is a proven technique. When writing classroom rules you always write them together with your class as things you should do instead of what not to do. For example- Keep your hands on your own body vs. Do not hit. Why when you get older do teachers forget this idea? Just because the students are older does that mean they need tons of negativity? I agree with this and think more people should reflect on the more simple idea here of postive instead of the negative.
Jayme L says
I couldnâ€™t agree with you more. I recently went to a blog workshop headed by my county. I wanted to learn more about blogs and how other people in the county were using them instructionally. The session was titled â€œUsing Blogs in the Classroom.â€ As I sat through the 90 minute session I started to become very irritated, it was not what I had expected. We spent 55 minutes talking about county policy and rules for blogging in the classroom!!! All of the â€œdonâ€™ts.â€ With the remaining time, we were shown how to set up an â€œapprovedâ€ blog, mainly to be used to post homework assignments and to keep parents up to date about events in the classroom. No one mentioned anything about using blogs in the classroom or for instructional use. After the first 55 minutes, I had already decided that I wasnâ€™t setting up a blogâ€¦.too much red tape and rules, it just wasnâ€™t worth it. I wish I would have asked â€œWhat CAN we do?â€ I wonder what their answer would have beenâ€¦.. Thank you for your story, I am going to use this to question my principal on her thoughts and feelings about blogging in the classroom!
Help! I’d like to make my administration and faculty aware of the need for technology in the classroom. I’m thinking of asking for a few minutes at a staff meeting even as most of the staff,including me,dislike giving up any more time to be at work. A hour spend in lecture mode is probably how most of our students feel. Paybacks.
Anyway, if you had to choose one or two articles (I tend to go for the first chapter of your book!)to get the attention of the technology “haters,” which would you recommend?
I’d appreciate your guidance,
Sheila F says
I partially agree with your comments about teaching to the positive. I believe most of the teachers in our school do just that. Kids, however, need to know what they CAN do and what they CAN’T and what the consequences are if they break the rules.
It’s wonderful to tell students that we all want to get along and respect each other’s privacy. But what if one student doesn’t? What if one student hurts another? If students don’t know there are consequences, then students don’t know what happens if they break the rules. More importantly, it also give students a sense of being protected by those who might break the rules.
The affirmative versus the negative is part of Classroom Management 101. The education gurus tell us to use the positive rather than the negative when addressing behavioral issues: “Walk” instead of “Don’t run,” “listen” instead of “stop talking,” “do” instead of “don’t.” So often, positive requests lead to positive responses. Besides, how often does a “don’t” lead to a little rebellion and a desire to do it anyway?
Katie Krajicek says
This makes complete sense and is so true! “Don’t, don’t don’t” is far more unsuccessful than “do, do, do.” Children respond better to positive reinforcement. It’s not just used in schools, but in daycares as well. I work in a daycare right now and we never say phrases like, “don’t run” or “don’t hit.” When you phrase it as “are we supposed to run?” or “is that what we use our hands for?” it requires the child to think about it and therefore gives them a better shot of making a good choice.
It’s yes and no to this idea. It’s yes because, like all the above people above, I think this is the positive way forwards. However, kids need boundaries and when they are sat at a PC connected to the internet they want to do the fun things they do on their PC at home. If you don’t define unacceptable use, there are kids who will massively overstep the boundaries – harming others or exposing themselves to significant risk.
They will anyway. AUPs just give excuses to reprimand students. They don’t change what students do when your back is turned.
I’m doing a workshop at the end of next month on blogs, wikis, twitter, etc. May I use your “Do’s”?
Little Star says
Bloody fantastic post. I think as a whole, society is negative. Keen to tell us what we can’t do and not what we can. I believe too that kids need boundaries, but must we really phrase them in such a way that is that off putting?
Awesome post. Well done.
I worry that “do, do, do” suggests that anything not listed isn’t allowed, which could be worse than “don’t, don’t, don’t”. How about “Do anything that is legal and doesn’t disrupt learning?”
I’m thinking the universal overbearing technology rules exist because some educators aren’t sure how to handle discipline situations involving computers.
In a normal student disruption, educators can quickly assess (or guess) the scope of the disruption, the effect on each student’s learning, the motive of the disrupting students, the effects of possible punishments, etc.
In a technology-based student disruption, many educators get stuck, because they don’t yet have a comfortable understanding of how people use computers. They aren’t sure of the scope of the disruption, they aren’t sure if the students were malicious or just exploring. There’s a conflict between their desire to handle the situation quickly and their lack of enough knowledge to do so.
Unfortunately, we ended up with rules rather than education and information. Because the goal of the rules was to simplify the situation, the rules were written as simply as possible (often “zero tolerance”), ignoring complexity of situations where users might accidentally do something they shouldn’t have.
So…if we teach administrators about how to handle technology-related disruptions, maybe they’ll be ready to support re-writes of the AUP’s?
Great blog post. You came to speak the first day of school at my district and you echoed the same sentiment which you discussed here.
Based on your visit I have come to accept the idea that we cannot shut off students and staff to 21st century technology while they are in an educational setting. Such a feat is like attempting to hold back the tide. We as educators should instead figure our ways to use 21st century technology in our classrooms and stop sticking our heads in the sand trying to pretend that such technology doesn’t exist.
Thanks again for your insight and inspiration to think outside of the box.
Amy Chayefsky says
Mark Prensky pointed out post at Arizona AzTEA CIO/CTO Sig today, and I think we are needing to rewrite OUR Use Policy. Always lead with the positive (insert a little sumpt’n, sumpt’n ’bout bees and honey and laws of attraction). How’d we forget when it came to this opening opportunity ?!?
This was well written. It caught my attention the second I began reading. Why is it so often that there are so many restrictions on what kids can and cannot do? Don’t the educators realize that young minds aren’t going to be stimulated with a bunch of restrictions that makes using a computer seem so dull? There definitely is too much garbage on the internet that can corrupt young minds, but to take away from everything is just plain boring. It leaves no room for imagination or mind stimulation. If I were a child in school, I wouldn’t be excited to use computers just for the simple fact of all the restrictions that people put and the don’t over the do’s…Yes we must have some restrictions, but there should be some leadway so that children are excited to learn.
Jim Peterson says
We used this same idea and policy when writing our Technology Honor Code [PDF – sorry] this past spring for this school year. Thanks for confirming our work and have a look. It cites as well where we got the our start.
I agree with your sentiments about restrictions and filters when dealing with a school’s internet network. It doesn’t help the students in any way if they can’t access what they need to access for certain projects/assignments. As you said, with proper teaching on how to behave on the internet, students would be able access whatever they needed to access without the teacher or school worrying about what they’re up to.
Mark Walker says
AUP’s are there to protect students and school – they set why we use this to support our learning, some boundaries and processes – We have a 1 pager which refers to other documentation which parents, staff and students can access.
I think its rather about a school learning culture and the things we do to promote learning. When someone goes against the spirit of the agreement – is there to spread or seek another agenda – then we take individual action but educate everyone.
This year we are having to amend our AUP for as we had some 8 yo’s do some cyber bullying from home using the school student email accounts.
Its a learning journey.
Steven Barber says
Wow! This AUP discussion obviously hits a “chord” with many of us…at the risk of sounding exceedingly simple I have one rule for both the use of my classroom blog and the behavior of students in the classroom- It is called-
I tell my students I have great faith in them & their ability to act like responsible young adults, and I would expect no less of myself with respect to them…
It works amazingly well, especially compared to what I did as a younger teacher in developing a list of “don’t do this, don’t do that” for both the classroom & use of technology-particularly since this simply challenges the adolescent mind to find one NOT on your “don’t do” list?
Therefore I say- Be positive, stay positive, it will lead to positive results!
Yess Steven, I definitely agree with that sentiment…Positivity leads to positive results but restrictions can bring a negative aura…Respect is crucial but how are we respecting our students if everything we do has so many limitations??
At our school we only have one don’t: don’t let the students use the internet. At all. Due to a snafu with our filters, some curious 3rd grade boys visited an inappropriate site. Our administration dealt with it the easiest way there was-no more internet. It is so frustrating when the mistakes of the few lead to such stringent restrictions on the many.
Marty Dunn says
Great post. After working in a school with similar restrictions, I’ve definitely noticed that with a more open perspective on internet, kids could more easily get excited about using such technology for learning. Just as crucial to my experience, though, was the inability to network with other education professionals while at work. Now I am at a school with a better grasp of social media, and I am able to stay involved in Applebatch.com and Twitter…
Thanks for these thoughts!
This is such a great point! I think there are a lot of things which keep students from realizing the full potential of the internet (and, as result, possibly even themselves), and that a large part of this is the focus on what students Shouldn’t do, rather than what they Can do. I was surprised by the rule against looking at and “social sites,” because in my opinion, the greatest thing about the internet is the fact that it allows us to connect – socialize – with people all over the world. And isn’t that what we want students to do? I understand that they don’t want kids spending all day on facebook or myspace, but other social sites can be set up which can be truly enriching to students of all ages. I would personally really like to see the days when students are taught beginning at a young age how to fully take advantage of all the internet has to offer them, and don’t feel restricted by rules.
This is such a great point! I think there are a lot of things which keep students from realizing the full potential of the internet (and, as result, possibly even themselves), and that a large part of this is the focus on what students Shouldnâ€™t do, rather than what they Can do. I was surprised by the rule against looking at and â€œsocial sites,â€ because in my opinion, the greatest thing about the internet is the fact that it allows us to connect – socialize – with people all over the world. And isnâ€™t that what we want students to do? I understand that they donâ€™t want kids spending all day on facebook or myspace, but other social sites can be set up which can be truly enriching to students of all ages. I would personally really like to see the days when students are taught beginning at a young age how to fully take advantage of all the internet has to offer them, and donâ€™t feel restricted by rules.
Shelley Rossitto says
Unfortunately some of these ideas are spawned out of “policy” decisions created by our lawyers and school board. We are fortunate to have a board that is up to speed. Many people act based on “fear.” I realize we need to look at the AUP but I would like to add – fear is usually driven by a lack of understanding and knowledge. We use Web 2.0 tools so we can increase our students experiential learning because we know it will give them the confidence to always know how to learn. We know that connectiveness is essential for success, growth and that participation and collaboration will contribute to a collaborative perspective while being shared will be based on experiences not what is read in a book. Remember that old word “tolerance”. It is now a collaborative perspective based on sound experiences where people learn to depend on each others contributions to be successful. Do we sometimes not expect that of ourselves. As educators it is encumbant upon us to be up to date – part of the “experience” so our decision making is based on value rather than fear. A personal example: My daughter came home when she was 18 and decided she was purchasing a motorcycle and was going to ride. At that time in my life I was 50 years old. As fear took over because I thought I would lose her I decided to learn how to ride so I could see what it was all about. We took the course together and what a hoot. I became addicted. I loved it and bought my own bike. Never would I have understood the thrill and desire unless I did it myself. I am not suggesting we put ourselves in harms way but I am suggesting we learn to experience and remember we should all be part of a life long learning “process” so we can offer and support what will allow ALL of us to continue to grow and contribute.
Audrey Nay says
You do, do ,do talk so much sense. Look forward to your positive words and to a bright future for all our students.
Carolyn Hanych-Fitch says
Wow, I really enjoyed reading your post on “Donâ€™t, Donâ€™t, Donâ€™t vs. Do, Do, Do.” As the technology integration coach in my rural, rather small, public school, we review and revise our AUP annually. This blog has definitely presented a new way of writing this document. Thank you!
Currently, I am reading your book on blogs, wikis, and podcasts, etc. and appreciate all the examples of educational tools in the “Web 2.0 World,” and more importantly ways to implement such tools in classrooms. I would like to know your advice of how to approach and encourage teachers who are resistant to the pedagogical shift to 21st Century learning and integration of Web 2.0 tools in education?
Sue Hellman says
Your article was on of the sparks for my post entitled Fences in the blog I maintain for the Wilkes/Discovery Instructional Media Program blog, Will. Thanks.
Here is a cold prickly for you …..Sometimes DON’T rules are important too.
Great work! Implementing technology has its quirks but it is a most exhilarating process and helps a lot with the differentiate learning. The educator – when they create a proper learning environment – has the greatest satisfaction ever.
However, being open-minded as Vicki said, does not mean one should close their eyes to the flaws of every new thing in town. I believe that we should be aware of the disadvantages of it all, as well.
Lisa Parisi says
My daughter started high school this year. First day home…regulations from each teacher..how to behave to get an A. I had to sign each one or she’d get an F on that assignment. Very discouraging. Back to School Night – more regulations. And, unfortunately, not one computer in any classroom of hers. I would almost welcome the list of don’ts just to know she was using tech in school.
In the meantime, she does all homework using tech and she and I text each other during the day when she has questions and concerns. Let them call me into the office for breaking the cell phone don’t.
Chad Evans says
First off, let me state that I believe that cell phone’s SHOULD be used as a tool in classrooms as most of our kids carry computers around with them. I question whether they should be used to communicate with parents though? Is contacting parents or friends “acceptable use” of a cell phone in school? Not judging, simply asking whether this should be something schools accept for all students?