Acceptable Use Policy – A Student’s License to Drive on The Internet Super Highway

15 Sep

The History Lesson

When Internet use exploded in the late 90s, like with any boom, there were some undesirables that took advantage of the new Internet frontier.  As a result, in an effort to protect students against harmful or obscene content, the Child Internet Protection Act was passed in 2000 and updated in 2011. The intent was to block this sort of content on public computers used by minors. To assure compliance, schools and libraries that participated in the discounted communications program known as E-rate, had to certify that they would comply with CIPA. Compliance included instituting filtering protocols for obscene or harmful images and monitoring student usage.

With the birth of social networking came cyber-bullying and student safety concerns. In 2008, the Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act was passed requiring the additional stipulations that schools  had to educate students about appropriate online behavior and Internet safety. In addition to the federal requirements, each state could impose further mandates. Arizona’s requirements can be found on the Arizona Department of Education Educational Technology page. I encourage you to see what your state requires.

How to Get a License to Operate on Your School’s Network

If your school participates in E-rate, you will have have to sign a user’s agreement. This agreement has several different names: Electronic Information Services User Agreement, Computer User Agreement, Acceptable Use Agreement, and so on. Regardless of the name, the agreements have required elements:

  • State the intended purpose of Internet and computer use and Network access
  • District’s right to monitor user activity
  • Compliance with all copyright and licensing laws
  • No unauthorized access, including  “hacking,” using someone’s  username and password, and any unlawful activities
  • No inappropriate (obscene) or  harmful content allowed
  • Maintaining the security and privacy of minors – no disclosure of student’s personal information
  • Consequences of non-compliance

Once you and, if you are a k-12 student, your parents have signed your district’s or school’s user’s agreement, you have your “license to drive” on the Internet super highway. Just as with any roadway, remember to obey the laws and be safe!

Sample Acceptable Use Policies

BUSD AUP – This is my school district’s user agreement. We are a small rural district on a Native American reservation in southern Arizona

Gila Bend – A small rural district bordering the Tohono O’odham Reservation. This agreement is for the elementary and middle school.

Grant High School – A rural New Mexico high school

Chinle Unified School District – A rural Navajo Reservation district in Arizona

National Center for Education Statistics – This template can be used by simply filling in the district’s name

Click here for a glossary of related terms for middle school students developed by Boston Public Schools.


Federal Communications Commission, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau. (2012). Children’s internet

protection act (CIPA). Retrieved from

Arizona Department of Education, Educational Technology. (2012). Children’s internet protection act (cipa). Retrieved



Posted by on September 15, 2012 in Uncategorized



5 responses to “Acceptable Use Policy – A Student’s License to Drive on The Internet Super Highway

  1. melaniegoodson

    September 16, 2012 at 9:01 am

    I appreciate the history lesson aspect. It really put it in perspective for me how much AUPs have had to change as a result of growing technology.

    I also appreciate the comment you made when submitting your blog post. When I was searching for example AUPs, I learned how hard it can be to find some on a district’s webpage, which brings up another issue. If school’s are requiring people to sign the agreement, it should be readily available in an easy-to-find location.

    • Cheronne Edwards

      September 16, 2012 at 9:48 am

      You are so right! The policy should be easy to locate and people should actually know what it is. For us, it is just a another piece of paper they sign in a stack of forms.

  2. catherinetolnai

    September 16, 2012 at 9:44 am

    The link you posted for the National Center for Education Statistics looks like a fantastic resource for a school site that has not articulated their Acceptable USe Policy. My school has attempted a user agreement, but we have not drafted an actual AUP. I am grateful for this resource!

    Also, your sumamry of the required elements clearly synthesizes the information I found as well – concise and informative.

    • Cheronne Edwards

      September 16, 2012 at 9:49 am

      Thanks, glad you found the link helpful. Good luck to your school.

  3. Tsisana Palmer

    September 16, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    Cheronne, I found your posting very informative as well as creative: thank you for the “history” lesson! I also liked your approach to view the “Internet Highway” similar to a real highway in the way that we must know the rules and obtain licenses in order to ensure safe use of it. Another great reminder was to always review the state’s requirements. Thank you for posting!


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