Scott McLeod’s recent post at Dangerously Irrelevant, My not-so-friendly library, boring teachers, and other marketing interactions, talks about the negative impact of the draconian, punitive language his public library uses, and points to marketing expert Seth Godin, who “…reminds us that every interaction with a customer / client / patron / stakeholder / visitor is a marketing interaction. It’s an opportunity for us to build or erode our brand, a chance to increase or decrease the trust and goodwill of the people with whom we are interacting.”
It made me think about the messages that schools send out about technology.
Scott goes on to say:
Schools do a host of wonderful things. But they also engage in a number of individual and organizational behaviors that chip away at the trust and goodwill of their internal and external communities.
So, here’s my question – what message does your technology AUP send home?
The AUP, short for Acceptable Use Policy, is typically part of the packet that goes home with students every fall. Parents know the drill. You fish through emergency cards in triplicate, imponderable policies that need your signature on every page, the new dress code, the skateboarding rules, offers for SAT prep and parenting classes, PTA dues, and who knows what else. You sign the pages, sign the checks, and hope that you’ve filled it all out right and that you never have to do it again (until next year.)
The technology AUP is in there too. It’s likely the only thing a parent will see all year long that has to do with computers and technology at the school.
So does your AUP:
- focus on punishment, or opportunity?
- contain only legalese or is easy to read and understand?
- communicate a vision of students as would-be hackers and criminals, or your vision of students as active participants in the 21st century?
- portray students as potential victims of predators and bullies, or show parents how and why students are safely learning how to navigate this brave new world?
- hint that computers are an afterthought and a “reward” that can be taken away as punishment, or explain why computers are essential tools in every classroom?
The AUP could be an opportunity to involve parents in your vision of technology, it could be a way to communicate the passion and importance of building a learning community that values 21st century thinking, and it could be a way to help parents understand that despite “To Catch a Predator”, your school is thoughtfully using technology to benefit their child.
So, which message is going home this fall?