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How to create an acceptable usage policy

Inappropriate content, cyber bullying and abuse of digital privileges are just some of the risks that schools must be aware of

Posted by Joe Lawson-West | June 30, 2017 | E-safety

Mobile devices and online resources provides teachers and students with access to lots of great learning opportunities, and in an ideal world, that’s all they would be used for. However, inappropriate content, cyber bullying and improper use of digital privileges are just some of the risks that schools must be aware of when using technology in a learning environment.

That’s why it’s crucial that devices and internet access are managed effectively. One tool that can help with this is an Acceptable Usage Policy (AUP), which is a written policy that outlines what is considered acceptable for device and internet usage. Creating an AUP is a step in the right directions to help promote safe and responsible online behaviour.

If your school doesn’t have an AUP yet we’ve put together some points to consider to help you get started, remembering that tools such as Mobile Guardian are designed to support your AUP and the measures you take to manage devices and access to resources, not be the sole solution

Who needs to have input
When deciding what your AUP should include it’s important to get input from all school stakeholders, which means getting Designated Safeguarding Lead, SENCO, IT support staff, Governors,  parents and students involved. This will help you to create a well-rounded policy and ensure that you have buy-in from the relevant parties.

 What are the main concerns that need to be addressed

Each school and its infrastructure will be different, so there’s no one-size fits all when it comes to AUPs. However, some key areas you might want to start with are; suitable access (websites and applications that are not permitted), protecting personal data (including password and identity management) and addressing misuse or abuse or technologies to harm others or break laws (including cyberbullying, hacking, etc.).

 Identify the consequences of violating a AUP

If you are introducing an AUP you must consider the consequences of any breaches and clearly outline these within the policy. An AUP should be signed by all stakeholders so it’s important that they are aware of the repercussion should they violate any agreement in the policy. An AUP is just an extension of your existing school rules, so should be handled in the same way, with clear goals and understanding from all involved.

 Review your AUP to keep it relevant

Once your AUP has been implemented it’s important that you monitor and review its success, and downfalls. In time, you may identify gaps that need filled, something that just isn’t working or the way you do things has changed therefore your AUP must too. That’s why it’s important to be open to your AUP evolving as your school does. Since you have involved your Designated Safeguarding lead, it can easily be included as part of any reviews they may have to complete each year.

 An AUP is just one way to help schools manage devices and internet usage. Our Mobile Device Management platform can help you add an extra layer of security by providing oversight of all devices in your network, allowing you to track and manage these effectively to create a safe online environment. Find out more by taking a demo with one of our team.

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