Computers and other learning enhancing technologies have reshaped the educational system. The technology’s capacity to come up with symbolic representations has transformed the way that the students and educators conceptualize knowledge. According to Orey and Branch (1993), the incorporation of technology in learning institutions was prompted by the evolution of cognitive psychology. Over the years, these technologies have been utilized in the creation of enhanced avenues of learning, a situation which has resolved the challenge of teaching in a pluralistic school environment (Bereiter & Scardamalia, 1993).
Such learning enhancing technologies as computers have been offering diverse, unique, and valuable resources to the administrative staff, students, and teachers. They, therefore, facilitate the promotion of educational excellence in the institutions where they have been implemented. Nevertheless, it is imperative for an institution to have an acceptable use policy so as to regulate the manner in which these pieces of technology are utilized within a classroom environment. The policy ensures that the users of computers and other technological devices, whether faculty, students, or the administrative staff, are held responsible for their behavior as they make use of technology while in the school environment (Mesquite, 2009).
The use of computers and learning enhancing devices in the school environment is considered to be a privilege. The users’ failure to abide by the general rules and regulations that guide the acceptable use of these technologies may prompt the termination of the privilege. Moreover, appropriate disciplinary actions may be taken in a manner that is in line with the school policies, and in some circumstances, law enforcement agencies may be notified (Papert, 1980). This would be in such serious cases, for example where the crime of cyberbullying has been committed. The school endeavors to fully cooperate with the federal, state, as well as the local officials during any form of investigation that happen to be related to those illegal activities that takes place within the school system (Bereiter & Scardamalia, 1993).
The students’ use of phones, email, and the Internet within the school is restricted to educational purposes. The use of the school’s computer facilities for social networking is prohibited. In that case, such issues as cyber bulling will be hard to come by. Faculty and administrative staff members are allowed to have some limited private use as long as that it does not obstruct their duties. It is recognized that the instructional resources that have traditionally been utilized can be screened, a processed that is accomplishable within a fair selection criteria (Mesquite, 2009). Since technological links to the public file servers avail access to some of the materials that have little educational value, the school has implemented measures that are meant to restrict accessibility to unacceptable information as per the Children’s Internet Protection Act. In this regard, efforts are employed so as to mitigate the danger that is posed by pornographic and other dangerous sites to the students. Other protective measures include the implementation of firewalls/filters that are updated continually and automatically so as to ensure that the dangers posed by the current threats are mitigated (Dartmouth, 2011).
Nevertheless, it is imperative to appreciate that none of the solutions is 100% accurate. For instance, there may be inadvertent blockage of educational sites or, at times, accessibility to some inappropriate sites. Students are, therefore, provided with instructions that guide the appropriate utilization of such technological resources as the Internet and computers. In this regard, the students are expected to make responsible choices while interacting with technology within the school system. The school does not guarantee data reliability or the reliability of connections. The management will not, therefore, be held liable in an event of data corruption or loss while the students utilize the network facility (Shelly et al., 2012).
The students are required to seek staff authorization whenever they are to make use of learning technologies. The students’ utilization of technology is permitted after the signing and verification of the technology sign in form. The designee or principal will retain the signature records, as they are responsible for the enforcement of the Technology & Electronic Communication Device Acceptable Use Policy. The school reserves the right of amending the terms and conditions without issuing prior notices (Dartmouth, 2011).
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Recommendations for File Backups
The network, as well as the related pieces of technologies, is the school’s property. As such, its storage systems are subject to any inspection that the administration may authorize at any given time. Users are advised not to expect much privacy in terms of the content they store and distribute via their personal files. These files are monitored by the network administrator. Nevertheless, the school has outsourced backup capacities from a reputable firm. The firm has facilitated the creation of an offsite backup facility, a situation which offers some of the recovery should educational data be lost (Orey & Branch, 2011).
The Terms and Conditions Associated with the Use of the School Technology
Rules for Password Management
- The users are expected to undertake every reasonable precaution so as to ban other students from accessing their accounts. For instance, private strong passwords are encouraged. Users are liable for any communication that involves their individual accounts.
- Should the user of an account suspect a security breech, he/she is required to contact the teacher as well as the technology coordinator immediately.
- Users are prohibited from disseminating passwords, telephone numbers, codes, grades, account numbers, or any other individual documents to unauthorized parties.
- The school reserves the right of monitoring or spot checking any ECD or Internet activities that occur on the school accounts and equipments.
Use of the Web
The school holds the view that the Internet technology avails unique resources to the students as well as the other stakeholders. These stakeholders are, however, required to utilize this technology responsibly, efficiently, ethically, and within legal limits. Such a focused use would enable the students to benefit from its value, diversity, and uniqueness (Mesquite, 2009).
- Accessing non-educative sites is prohibited, unless the student seeks appropriate authorization from the teacher or the technology coordinator.
- The students and other stakeholders are required to take decisive steps so as to secure any form of private data that they possess, create, or access. This is aimed at facilitating the mitigation of tension that may derail educational and research activities.
- This obligation requires the stakeholders to effectively maintain the electronic private data and also secure such devices as computers as it is required under FERPA.
- The students must observe all the basic security provisions so as to avail some level of surety with regard to the use of devices. The provisions include attending some training so that one can equip him/herself with the knowledge of how authentication and configuration is achieved as well as the activation of the firewall, security patches, and antiviruses. The students are required to implement the knowledge they acquire upon their attendance of the training classes.
- The functionality of computers is similar to that of critical servers. They facilitate the storage and accessing of private data some of which happen to be contractually as well as legally protected. In that case, the school has implemented an enhanced level of support and security. The enhanced security incorporates the basic requirements as well as the enhanced requirements for security so as to enable the students to achieve privacy as share individual data.
FERPA and Protecting Private Data
Use of “Junk Drives” to Transfer Files to and from Computers
By accepting to utilize various online accounts, the students consent to having the data they post as well as a record of their online communications retained for an unspecified duration of time. In most cases, such records are retained until the account owners’ graduation (Orey & Branch, 2011).
- In this regard, the students are solely responsible for the data items that are transferred via their accounts to either personal or non-RPS account.
- The students are also required to utilize portable storage devices for the purpose of transferring educational materials. Precaution is required so as to ensure that these devices do not spread the threat of viruses in the network. As such, adequate scanning is necessary before the drives are opened on a new computer.
- Users must not run script or executable files that are received via the e-mail due to the susceptibility of the computers to malicious codes.
- The school requires the Window Explorer settings to be adjusted in a manner that facilitates the detection of the files with such extensions as .vbs and .exe.
Rules for Opening Documents Received via E-mail
Overview of SPAM and Phishing
The term spam refers the email communication messages, which are sent from unsolicited sources. These emails may be aimed at accomplishing a malicious infiltration of the computer system, and they are in form of spyware, viruses, Trojan, and Adware. Such emails may have an adverse effect on the network security and performance, and they are usually transferred through contaminated attachments. When these attachments are opened, the spam infects the computer system. Once the computer network has been infected, it becomes difficult to redress the situation (Mesquite, 2009).
- Due to the danger posed by the malware, students are required to ensure that they do not open attachments to unsolicited emails. They should also never open attachments to emails from unrecognizable sources.
Phishing refer to the technique that is utilized by fraudsters and thieves as they attempt to trick their victims into revealing sensitive credit card and bank account information. The theft is achieved through disbursing fake requests for sensitive information over the internet (Orey & Branch, 2011).
- In order to mitigate the dangers that phishing poses to the school community, the students are required to concentrate on those aspects that are academic oriented. That way, the idea of sharing sensitive details over the internet would not arise.
Rules for Shutting down Systems
It is important that computer systems are shut in a proper manner. Turning off the power at the power switch may cause serious file-system damages. Whenever the computer system is on, several files happen to be in use. Their use continues even when the user is not utilizing the machine as there are several processes that are always running in the background. These processes do manage the system by keeping numerous files open. Switching off the power while these files are still open can corrupt them. Depending on the files that are damaged, the system may be rendered unusable (Gardner, 1985).
- In this case, the procedure of shutting down the computer systems must begin with the software before the power button is switched off.
- Computer software must be properly installed and actively maintained. The installation must be done by the technology coordinator. Installation maintenance has to be an ongoing process so as to protect the stored and accessed data in a manner that facilitates the compliance with the school requirements as well as the pertinent external regulations.
- The students and other stakeholders must recognize that it is their duty to ensure that the computers meet the basic security requirements as that they can protect the data and network integrity. Computers as well as related devices do require enhanced protection measures.
- School owned software must only be installed on school-owned computers. Other installations must be approved by the school’s technology coordinator. Furthermore, students and other stakeholders must not store private data on the school-owned computers. This measure is meant to restrict the school-owned computers to the purpose of availing education materials.
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Rules for Installing Software on a School Computer
General Rules Regarding Copyrights
Copyright rules are mainly aimed at protecting the infringement on other peoples’ original creations. The rules safeguard creations from misuse, especially when one does not seek permission from the owner. These rules are aimed at protecting originality of pieces of art and encourage creativity (Gardner, 1985).
- Though some of the copyrighted materials can be used for educational purposes, students are required to cite their sources explicitly.
- With regard to software, unauthorized use of copyrighted programs and procedures without the technology coordinator’s authorization is prohibited.
- Students are required to assign their files and folders logical names. This is to facilitate the ease of location whenever necessary.
Recommendation for File and Folder Names
As it has already been aforementioned, terms and conditions can never be exhaustive. Students are, therefore, required to act responsibly as improper conduct will lead to the termination of their computer use. Some behaviors that may amount to improper conduct have not been covered in this policy paper, but that does not exculpate an individual who has acted irresponsibly.