The iPad 2: Responsible Use & Making Obsolete Policies Obvious

As part of the action research project we have embarked upon with students in my Digital Journalism class as part of the iPad pilot, we asked kids to read and edit our school’s Responsible Use Policy for the iPad. This policy is intended for a 1 to 1 tablet laptop environment, and the students immediately began digging in and turning up lots of incompatibilities, from points intended to protect the network from viruses to the hackable nature of the iPad. One of the first “ah-ha” moments came over the school publishing policy, which is well outdated and well-meaning, but not compatible with an environment chock full of digital publishing and sharing. As a result, a conversation has been initiated that I hope will lead to substantive, progressive changes, but we’ll see. In terms of what we could actually change ourselves, we edited the policy in bold print as follows:

Faculty, staff, or students may not transmit or seek access to materials which violate laws, infringe on copyrights, or have threatening, obscene, or racist content unless in the context of investigative research.
This change made sense in a journalism classroom. I applaud the young woman who pointed it out and re-wrote it.
I understand that streaming video or music, social networking sites,  instant messaging and chat, video games are not allowed during class time unless used for completion of classroom activities or permitted by a teacher;
This change probably says more about the power of iTunes than any other, but the iPad is a media machine, so this policy without the change handcuffs the functionality of the tool. The next change is related to this one:
I will not intentionally disrupt school network traffic with high bandwidth use for personal entertainment such as downloading music, videos, or online gaming;

The next two relate to the nature of the iPad. We synced all class iPads to a single account with no way to purchase apps, but shared the password to allow the downloading of free apps:

— I will not give out my password to anyone nor use someone else’s password or log-in identity and I understand the dangers of giving out personal information;

—  I will not share the ZIS Digital Journalism account information with anyone;

This next change comes from our savviest Apple student who proudly hacks his family iPads to allow for free app use. He is clearly the expert in the room. This point initially dealt with viruses, worms, etc.:

— I will not deliberately introduce any harmful or nuisance program or file including executable files from untrustworthy websites, or deliberately circumvent any precautions taken by the school to prevent this from happening;

Again, from our 15 year old Apple expert:

— I agree to comply with trademark, copyright laws, data protection laws and computer misuse laws, and to give credit to all sources used. I also agree not to jailbreak or otherwise hack the iPad in any way for any reason;

The next changes were necessary to navigate the tricky nature of a 1 to 1 iPad setup, because kids can authorize the iPad on their own iTunes account and put a lot of money in apps, music, and other media into the iPad, only to give it up in the spring. Of course, de-authorizing the iPad should mean they lose nothing from this activity, but we also wanted to circumvent students begging for apps from parents that are “necessary” for school. If they pitch the idea to the class, we can get paid apps, but they don’t need to be buying them on their own.

The user accepts responsibility for all software on the machine. The user agrees not to alter the core configuration of the iPad, but may install additional software or apps without approval by the ZIS IT Department. However, any apps purchased by the student for use with their iTunes account are their own responsibility, must adhere to previously stated policies of responsible, acceptable use, and will not be reimbursed by ZIS for any reason.

Finally, the iPads were provided with funds separate from our 1 to 1 program and intended as a pilot. As such, the iPads don’t carry the same sort of insurance as their laptop brethren. So we added the following, which I think is totally fair:

The user accepts responsibility for the physical security of the iPad. The machine is not insured under the school’s insurance policies and will not be replaced irregardless of accidental or purposeful damage or destruction. Additionally, if a user is deemed negligent they may be held responsible for replacement of the iPad, such as the iPad being left unattended and in view in a car or unattended in a public place, in which case the user will be held personally liable for any loss or theft.

We provided students with big, burly cover for their iPads and wished them well. In order to take their 1 to 1 iPad, students returned the cooperatively modified RUP with signatures from themselves and their parents, as well as with an action research informed consent letter that I’m happy to share if anyone is interested (just comment). This week, we are off and running, students are keeping reflective notes in shared Google docs as we go, and I’m excited to see what happens next.

2 thoughts on “The iPad 2: Responsible Use & Making Obsolete Policies Obvious”

  1. Hello this is somewhat of off topic but I was wanting to know if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have
    to manually code with HTML. I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding experience so I wanted to get guidance from someone with experience. Any help would be enormously appreciated!

    Like

    1. This is a WordPress blog with a theme that provides the layout and look. I customized some of the images and the font via a theme editor page in the blog backend. My suggestion is to sign up for a free blog at WordPress.com and start playing around with it. It’s a quick and easy learning curve!

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