How the idea came to be:

Let’s get one thing straight before I get started here. I am, by no means, an authority on [any] school policy. I am a rule follower who enjoys the opportunity to bend and mold rules to serve my purpose. No one has asked me to write a Responsible Use Agreement (RUA) or Responsible Use Policy (RUP) for my current (or past) schools. But to know me is to know that I’m no shrinking violet. I’m loud. I’m in-your-face. And I have an opinion about everything! So when Christy Martin (a fellow fiery friend) and I decided to collaborate on this project, we agreed immediately to write a new and improved RUA/RUP.

Through my 6-week inquiry in to school-wide tech agreements and my own background with school policy (read my husband’s or my perspective on this as experienced in the last few weeks), my ideology has changed. As a wife and mother, I know you can get a whole lot more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. And the same rules apply to kids. If we empower children to think for themselves and give them choice, it often leads to greater success. You get what I did there? Yeah, yeah… the honey was the empowerment!

So… how would I apply this understanding to a school tech policy you may ask?

Well, thanks to my #Coetail crew, I (virtually) met and became inspired by the teaching of Scott McLeod (#mcleod) through his dangerously ! irrelevant blog. Mixing McLeod’s ideas of empowerment with Ben Chestnut’s business model in which he empowers failure–our collaborative AUP was born.

In the TEDTalk below, Ben Chestnut, CEO and founder of , discusses how his experience as a child with no friends but a zest for creativity “rewired” his brain which he applied to his company model. He explains how he “only hires wierdos [who he encourages to]… to fail all the time.” Chestnut urges us to create an environment where people (read: kids) are encouraged to make things. With strict time constraints in place, Chestnut gives his staff permission (and encourages them) to fail. If they fail… at least they are trying, right?


The idea:

EmpowerdAgreement

created by Angela Langlands

PHILOSOPHY

Just as books, libraries, and pencils have been tools for educational success, 21st century schools are embracing a new collection of tools for global connectedness and student achievement. Technological tools (including but not limited to: internet access, computers, tablets, smart phones, calculators, TV, smart watches, Mp3 devices…), used creatively and broadly will allow students to connect their learning in a way that empowers open-mindedness and respect of differing perspectives.

Digital Citizenship

“In this increasingly global world of information, students must be taught to seek diverse perspectives, gather and use information ethically, and use social tools responsibly and safely.” –American Association of School Librarians


Be EMPOWERED
You are amazing!. So do amazing things. Show others what you can do. Amaze us!

Be Creative
Be awesome and awesome things. Be creative and share your ideas.

Be Respectful
Let’s work together to make our school community principled and caring.

Be Smart
Think before you click. If you wouldn’t share it with your grandmother, you probably shouldn’t be there either. If you are uncertain, talk to us.

Be Safe
Think before you share. If you see something that doesn’t look or feel right, talk to us.

Be Gentle
Our resources are limited. It is everyone’s responsibility to care of our devices and networks.


The reflection:

So there it is. 6 weeks of work narrowed down to 6 simple ideas on one poster. The infographic is something that schools could easily add to their school handbooks, have plastered around campus, and have students (and parents) sign at the beginning of the school year. With this EMPOWERED Use Policy there should be no need for 36 pages of “don’t do this” and “don’t do that” talk. Every scenario we could think of would fit under any of the empowering guidelines.

So now the real question is… do I feel empowered enough to talk to my Head of Technology? Hmm. Perhaps I’ll wait to see what Brandon Hoover (@javajive) thinks about it first.