Thoughts on being Digitally Responsible

I wrote a post Digital Natives Need Infrastructure last spring about a visit I made to our first Digital Immersion classroom at Riverside Secondary school.  That visit and subsequent workshops with principals and IT staff on Digital Tools and Social Responsibility spawned a priority for our District to review and revise our procedures.  We need to ensure they are current and able to guide our students and employees in being responsible in their use of digital tools, services, and content.  The need for increased bandwidth is another top priority but without digitally responsible use, bandwidth on its own is not the solution to an overused network.  Digital FootprintWhile writing Living and Learning Responsibly in the Digital World and then  Privacy, Living and Learning Digitally, I reflected on some examples of students not being digitally responsible.  What digital “foot print” are students leaving? (photo courtesy of

A small team of amazing staff development coordinators are working with me to develop Digital Responsibility Guidelines and to review and propose revisions to district and school procedures and “policies” (not to be confused with Board Policy).  I’ve included some draft work on a new “acceptable use policy” for students (see below) and a second piece of work developed by our team on digital rights and responsibilities for learners.

The team would really appreciate feedback and input on the content and organization of these two resources.

Acceptable Use “Policy” (early draft work)


School District No. 43 (Coquitlam) (the District) provides digital network connections within its schools and administrative buildings. Furthermore, the District provides digital network connections between its schools, administrative buildings, and the Internet. Students use computers and other digital tools that are provided by their school, the District, or themselves to access school, District, and Internet sites and online services that enhance and enable their learning. Students have access to and are able to participate in a variety of digital services and content including this sample list: public websites, secure virtual classrooms, discussion boards, video files, digital pictures, audio files, library systems, e-mail, file storage, printing, encyclopedias, wikis, blogs, texting, and messaging tools.

It is possible for students to receive, access, and contribute inappropriate digital material and to conduct themselves inappropriately through the District’s network. The District is obligated by its Policies 17 and 18 to ensure safe, orderly, and caring physical and digital learning spaces and to inform parents of the potential risk and to impose rules on what students are able to see and do in digital environments.

The primary purpose for the District’s network is to support student learning, teaching, and the administrative functions of schools and the District. Students are expected to use the District network in support of their learning, however some personal use is acceptable as long as it adheres to the District responsibility guidelines and that it does not interfere with other students learning or teaching and administrative activities.

Role and Responsibility of School Personnel

  • Keep students’ personal information including their names and images, private, unless parents are informed
  • Seek out content and digital tools that is of educational quality and that will help each student learn
  • Teach students how to locate, evaluate, and use information
  • Model digital responsibility in front of students and colleagues
  • Ensure students feel safe, are protected, and are respected online within the realm of school and classroom activities and projects
  • Facilitate student learning about appropriate behavior online
  • Report behavior that is harmful, unsafe and/or inappropriate
  • Monitor and supervise student use of District, school, and personally-owned devices including cell phones to ensure their use is digitally responsible

Role and Responsibility of Parents

--- nothing written yet…  ideas on this would be appreciated ---

Role and Responsibility of Students

All Digital Responsibility Guidelines apply to students using District, school, or personally owned computers and digital tools including cell phones.


  • Use District and personally-owned devices and digital tools for educational purposes
  • Follow copyright laws and acknowledge and respect the ownership of others for their creative works
  • Keep your personal information (last name, home address, phone #’s, picture, passwords) private
  • Respect the privacy of other students and adults
  • Report uncomfortable, unsafe, or inappropriate behavior or messages to your teacher or principal
  • Treat others fairly
  • Treat other students and adults with respect
  • Understand that digital tools such as e-mail, messaging, social networks, websites, wikis, blogs, texting are not guaranteed to be private

Do not

  • Share your passwords
  • Take and use someone else’s identity (their name, password)
  • Falsify your identity
  • Take pictures or videos of others and share them without their permission
  • Hurt or mistreat others by what you create or share
  • Harass, stalk, bully, threaten, insult, abuse, or attack others
  • Damage computer systems, networks, digital tools or content
  • Access secure information owned by others without their permission
  • Use information or work of others as your own without their permission
  • Use software programs that are not provided by the school or District or that are not free or purchased by you for your personally-owned device
  • Use District or personally-owned devices for commercial, illegal, or malicious purposes
  • Use District or personally-owned devices to operate file or other digital content searching or sharing services
  • Access or distribute pornographic or obscene pictures, videos, or text
  • Use your cell phone or mobile device unless approved by the principal or your teacher
  • Meet with someone you meet online without your parent(s) or guardian(s) approving and going with you

And the second resource…

Digital Rights and Responsibilities for our Learners


  • To empower students in their use of digital resources.
  • To educate students in the lawful use of digital resources.
  • To protect students while in our care and custody.



Privacy Rights

I have the right to:

· Keep my personal information, including my image, private.

· Develop my identity and to share it in the way that I choose.

· Be assured that when I give my personal information it will be kept safe and only used in appropriate ways.

· Correct any of my personal information that is inaccurate.

· Have my personal information stored in Canada and nowhere else unless I choose for it to be.

· Protection, if I report something.

Privacy Responsibilities

I have the responsibility to:

· Take responsibility for my choices and actions.

· Learn about and always be aware of the risks of sharing my personal information and images with others.

· Not take someone else’s identity (e.g. use another’s password).

· Not take pictures of others on school property without their permission.

· Report inaccuracies in my personal information.

Copyright Rights

I have the right to:

· Be known as the author of works that I have created.

· Use content, music, images, etc. for my personal use.

· State how others will use works that I have created.

Copyright Responsibilities

I have the responsibility to:

· Acknowledge and respect the ownership of others over their works.

· Respect the right of other authors to state how they want their works to be used.

Use and Access to Information Rights

I have the right to:

· Learn, and communicate my learning.

· Create new works.

· Have an opinion and to express myself freely.

· Access and use district resources.

· Locate and share information.

Use and Access to Information Responsibilities

I have the responsibility to:

· Seek out content that is of educational quality and that will help me to learn.

· Use district resources for educational, school-related purposes (e.g. non-profit).

· Use no more than my fair share of district resources.

· Learn about and always be aware that what I might express could be perceived by others as offensive.

· Protect my access to district resources (e.g. passwords).

· Ensure my actions don’t damage district resources (e.g. viruses, hacking, physical).

Behaviour Rights

I have the right to:

· Feel safe and be respected.

· Be protected from being hurt or mistreated in body or in mind.

· Choose my own friends.

· Meet with my friends or other groups (e.g. in person or online).

Behaviour Responsibilities

I have the responsibility to:

· Respect the rights and freedoms of others.

· Not hurt or mistreat others by what I create and share.

· Treat others fairly and not harass, stalk, threaten, insult or attack others.

· Report unsafe and inappropriate behaviour.

Invitation to provide input / feedback / advice:

  1. How would you define “digital responsibility”?
  2. Are there rights or responsibilities you might disagree with?  Which do you appreciate the most?
  3. Should we provide a list of types of external tools (animation, video, social networking, wikis, blogs, messaging, texting, web documents and lists, web email, calendar, avatars, profiles etc.) and requirements or advice for using them?
  4. Should we provide advice around appropriate web writing, messaging, communicating? What advice would you provide?
  5. Should we provide Friending advice?  I.E., should teachers add students as friends on Facebook?  should they accept Friend requests?  Why? What about for students?
  6. How might students help with self-regulation around their use of network resources?
  7. What would implementation of a “policy” like this look like for students? teachers? principals? parents?
  8. Anything else you might add?


  1. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for the post. We are re-developing our Acceptable Use Policy in Burnaby. Thanks for letting me use this information with my team. I will let you know how things go on our end.


  2. Hi, my name is Livia Turnbull and I'm from Riverside Secondary School. I believe we have rights to go online at school and use Internet as a research tool. We also have the right not to give personal information if we don't want to. However, it is our responsibility not to give out personal information to just anybody and to report the unsafe behaviour of other students.

  3. Hello Brian,

    The two most important rights for student use of digital technology is:
    a)Effectively and appropriately use digital technology for school use while being ensured the student has privacy and protection.
    b)I believe students should also to some extent have access to sites such as Facebook, but should be limited (breaks, when the assignment is finished). With this rule parents and teachers both have to provide the student with guidelines of 'free time'

    the two responsibilites that are most important are:
    a) The student is responsible for their choices and actions. A temporary ban on that student's account would help them understand the class is not for 'fun'
    b) Another responsibilty is the teachers to evaluate each student's use on the computer and award the student's who follow the rules as an example for others to also use the technology for school purposes.

  4. -Livia: Thank-you for taking time to share your thoughts. Research is certainly a good use of the Internet along with writing, recording, sharing, and learning with others. I'm glad you're aware of your right to keep your personal information private - that is very important for all of us to be careful with.

    -Riverside: effective and appropriate use is key, thanks for pointing that out. I wonder how you might define that use? People have different understandings of that I think. Privacy is important for self and for others when online.

    I agree that some personal / social use should be appropriate. The key is "some" and not to use the network for personal use that impacts others. EG, watching TV online at school would slow it down for kids needing to do school work. Great point.

    I like your ideas for responsibility. Have you shared them with your teachers or principal. They would probably appreciate the suggestions.

    Thanks for sharing your ideas and thinking on this.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Teachers teaching with SMART Boards

Joel's New Textbook

Bogglers Block