Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

This week’s resources had me really inspired. After reading a few of the articles mentioned I turned around to Jason Edwards, our Director of Technology, had a rich discussion about the history of responsible use policies at YIS and our vision for the future. Thanks to those who have come before me (Kim Cofino, Clit Hamada and others), YIS was revolutionary in developing the Connected Learning Community (CLC) – a technology support community of learners that focused more on the learning and less on devices. Our CLC was primarily developed in the Middle and High School, but it’s now working its way down to elementary. With this move down to elementary, we’ve dug out the old responsible use agreements.

Our current responsible use agreement for upper elementary students

One challenge I’ve been facing recently is our current responsible use agreement. I say it’s our current one, but in reality no one is using it – it’s just the most recent one we have. It is too wordy, it is a bit too negative for my liking and it would be challenging most of our upper elementary students to digest. Most importantly, our students don’t know it or believe in it.

Take a look at it:

Find the full PDF here

What’s missing?

  1. Simplicity. It’s long and inclusive, but is that necessary for an elementary school student?
  2. Empowerment. It includes way too many “not’s” – It doesn’t empower our students to use technology to be creative and share their creativity.
  3. Trust. Our students want to do the right thing and they are just waiting for us to support that. Of course, sometimes they need some guidance, but they need us to trust them and empower them.

What are some good examples?

A lot of international schools are really pushing forward with their technology agreements and policies and it’s really inspiring to see what others have spent the time putting together. Here are a couple of my favorites:

Scott McLeod’s blog post about implementing an Empowered Use Policy really inspired a lot of my thinking. He was discouraged by the negativity of traditional acceptable use policies and developed an empowered use policy:

When it comes to digital technologies in our [school / district], please…

Be empowered. Do awesome things. Share with us your ideas and what you can do. Amaze us.

Be nice. Help foster a school community that is respectful and kind.

Be smart and be safe. If you are uncertain, talk with us.

Be careful and gentle. Our resources are limited. Help us take care of our devices and networks.

The American School in Japan has a great graphic for their digital media and citizenship program that has a very easy to digest and inspirational message. Check out more about how they learn with technology here.

Copyright The American School in Japan

Next steps

Because of this post, I’ve quickly shifted my priorities so I can spend some time working on an empowered use agreement for elementary school students. I want to create a document that is a living, breathing policy that our students and teachers know and appreciate. I want a document that inspires our students to create and share all of the amazing things that they are doing with technology, not restrict and challenge their creativity.

Creating a new empowered use agreement isn’t something I can just sort out in a couple of days, my vision is to work with a group of students put together a policy that they believe in. I look forward to sharing what I’ve come up with soon.