Course 2, Week 5: Becoming Contributors

Gerd Altmann, Pixabay

There is no acceptable use (AU) policy for students at my school, only for adults. The AU can be found on the school’s website and in the faculty handbook and I have included the AU at the bottom of this blog. Honestly, this was my first time reading through it carefully and I had two main takeaways. First, the school wants everyone to use the WiFi provided and second, don’t do anything inappropriate while using it.

image by Holly Marshburn

While reading the AU, I considered if it empowers stakeholders to make positive contributions to local and global communities. In the AU, it said, “Our goal in providing this service (WiFi) to users is to promote educational excellence by facilitating resource sharing, innovation, and communication.” However, taking into consideration what Scott McLeod shared in his TEDx talk, Extracurricular Empowerment, it seems to be a way of controlling users out of fear something bad will be done. It is unclear to me how the AU is promoting any sharing, innovation, or communication. I believe the AU is laying out the rules and if anyone breaks them, then you won’t be allowed to use the WiFi at school. For teachers, it could mean disciplinary action from the administration. McLeod encouraged us to let go of the fear and the need to control in order to empower the students, and in this instance, the people. That being said, of course, I believe the students’ privacy would be honored and we should behave professionally.

Media literacy is an on-going process of growth. Technology is evolving at the speed of an expert typist’s words-per-minute and it’s a continuous journey to learn what’s new, relevant, and useful. I have a degree in instructional technology and distance education yet here I am taking another tech certification so I can continue to improve my media literacy. I am always asking my students to teach me what they’re doing online. I offer help to my colleagues with any tech issues they may have that I can help them with. Sometimes it feels like a blow to the ego not to be the ultimate media literacy expert since I have that ITDE degree (that I’m not even using); however, I swallow my pride and ask anyone and everyone for help to improve my tech skills and continue to learn.
video by Holly Marshburn

Participatory culture is a term used to describe how people are creating self-made content then sharing their videos, audio, text, and images on social media (Mindjet, 2008). I have embraced this culture and I enjoy putting myself out there. I have always loved making digital stories (DS) and I have been posting my videos on my YouTube channel for a while. I find the best way to learn something new is to practice it on yourself. In 2017, I wasn’t able to attend my graduation ceremony in the states so my friends celebrated with me in Russian style-selfies and a big party. I created my ITDE digital story to remember it by.

Recently, I discovered Tik Tok. I believe this is a prime example of participatory culture and just this week I posted my first video on TikTok. So far, I have three followers! (Two are personal friends but it’s still a start.) Seriously though for me, contributing my work to the web isn’t about how many followers, likes, or subscribers I have. I do appreciate all that of course but I enjoy the process of creating and have a warm sense of accomplishment when I upload and/or post my creations for the world to see and judge-or not. In the past, I have had students create their own digital stories. They would write a story, create illustrations, record themselves reading their story, take pictures of their pages, then share them with others. I’m not the only one who enjoys this process of creating for a purpose and audience.

Photo by Stefan Cosma on Unsplash

Deanna Troi was my mentor in learning about empathy. Counselor Troi and my lived experiences of almost a half-century have helped me become a more empathetic person. I’ve learned to listen to others, try to consider perspectives different from my own, and being naturally introverted has helped. When someone is mean to me, I consider the possibility his wife beats him at home. When a student is being a jerk, I imagine she has an older sister getting all the attention at home and is acting out with me because she knows I’m safe. When I notice a student or peer is not being empathetic, I try to support them by asking questions about the situation to try to get them to see another perspective and possibly feel empathy. Empathy comes from nature and future. We’re born with it, or not, but there’s always room to learn the ways of the Betazoid.


Extracurricular empowerment (McLeod, TEDxDesMoines) FacultyHandbook(2018-19 September). pp. 35-38 PuttingtheParticipatory Culture to Work. (2008). Retrieved from

The School offers electronic communications and network access to all users. Access to the network provides users with Internet access in addition to other resources. All employees, students and visitors are encouraged to use the school wifi or wired internet connections (not to use data from cellular networks). Our goal in providing this service to users is to promote educational excellence by facilitating resource sharing, innovation and communication. While the Internet provides a massive information source to our school, we must also recognize that some material available may not be considered of educational value in a school setting. The responsibility for proper educational use of the network lies with the user. If an AAS user chooses to access resources that are objectionable, adult-oriented, or restricted, the consequence may be withholding or termination of access privileges, depending on the circumstances and intent of the user.

AAS Computer Systems and Internet Use Terms and Conditions

  1. School computers should be used to support education and research consistent
    with the learning outcomes of the Anglo-American School. Use of another
    organization’s network or computing resources from school computers must
    comply with the rules appropriate for that network as well as for the AAS network.
  2. Network Etiquette – Users are expected to abide by the following rules of network etiquette. These include (but are not limited to) the following:
    a. One should be polite and never abusive in messages to others. Using
    vulgarities or any other inappropriate language will not be tolerated. Hate mail,
    harassment, discriminatory remarks and other antisocial behaviors are
    prohibited. Messages should not contain profanity, obscene comments,
    sexually explicit material, or expressions of bigotry or hate. Such remarks may fall under purview of the AAS Harassment Policy.
    b. E-mail is not guaranteed to be private and may be monitored at any time.
    Messages relating to or in support of illegal activities may be reported to
    c. E-mail chain letters should never be forwarded to or from AAS e-mail accounts.
    d. The personal address, phone numbers, or passwords of users of the AngloAmerican School, including one’s own, should not be revealed without the
    employee’s permission other than on a need-to-know basis.
    e. The network should not be used in such a way as to intentionally disrupt its use by others.
    f. Files downloaded or transferred via removable media should be checked for
    viruses. Deliberate attempts to degrade or disrupt system performance will be
    viewed as a severe offense.
    g. Illegal downloading of files is prohibited.
    h. Files stored in public storage areas may be deleted by the school at any time.
    Users should save files either on removable storage or on their home network
    i. Files stored on the school computer local hard drives are not backed up and
    should be saved on either removable storage or in user home directories on
    the network servers.
  3. Accuracy of Information – Use of any information obtained via the Internet is at
    one’s own risk. Users are responsible for determining the accuracy or quality of
    information obtained through school accounts. Users should not alter any computer configuration on a school computer (without express permission). This includes installing ANY programs from home, the Internet, etc. If a user needs a particular program for school use, the user should contact their divisional administrator (principal or direct supervisor) and/or with the request.
  4. Security is a high priority, especially since the system involves many users. If a
    user identifies a security problem on the network, the user must notify a teacher, librarian or principal, without demonstrating the problem to other users. Users should not intentionally seek information on, obtain copies of, or modify files, other data, or passwords belonging to other users, or misrepresent other users on the network. Attempts to gain unauthorized access to system program or computer equipment will result in the cancellation of user privileges.
  5. Vandalism – Vandalism will result in revocation of privileges as well as other
    sanctions cited in the AAS handbooks and Board Policy Manual. Vandalism
    includes any malicious attempt to harm, modify, destroy, or remove from the AAS premises computer hardware, software, or data of another user.
  6. Any software installed must be properly licensed and evaluated by AAS IT
    Department prior to the installation.
  7. Computers and other electronic equipment available for checkout may not be
    removed from the AAS campus by AAS Staff without explicit, written permission. Lists of available items for checkout will be updated regularly. AAS Staff members may checkout approved devices for professional use only. When checking-out and using an AAS school-owned ICT device, AAS Faculty and Staff members agree to the conditions and procedures outlined below:
    a. AAS ICT devices are only to be used to support our school’s Mission and
    Vision. Personal, non-school related use is inappropriate and prohibited.
    b. AAS school-owned ICT devices off-campus use is short-term only (i.e.,
    c. AAS Staff members are 100% responsible for the off-campus care and
    appropriate use of the AAS school-owned ICT devices checked out to them.
    d. AAS staff members are liable for any associated costs due to on or off campus
    damage/loss/theft, including repair/replacement costs.
    e. All AAS school-owned ICT devices must be checked out through the current
    prescribed circulation system. Any subsequent extensions of checkout periods
    must include a visual inspection and verification of the AAS school-owned ICT
    device by the ICT / IT staff.
    f. In the event of the loss or theft of an AAS school-owned ICT device, on or off
    campus, the user must notify the following immediately — AAS Security,
    immediate supervisor or Divisional Principals, and the ICT / IT staff. (This will
    ensure that recovery procedures can be activated as soon as is possible
    including device tracking and security surveillance.)
  8. Damage to AAS school-owned ICT devices must be reported immediately to the
    employee’s immediate supervisor or Divisional Principals.
  9. AAS Administration reserves rights to monitor any information which is stored on the AAS Network Servers or transmitted over AAS Intranet, Extranet, or Internet communication links. This includes (but not limited to) any data sent over AAS wired and wireless communication systems.

AAS respects the right of employees to use blogs and social media as part of their professional network and as an extension of their personal and professional lives. We do not want to discourage employees from self-publishing and self-expression, but employees are expected to follow the guidelines and policies set forth to provide a clear line between you as the individual and you as the employee in order to preserve the environment that is based on focusing on students at all times.

General Provisions – Employees should not allow social media or blogging for
personal reasons to create a distraction to the learning environment consistent with our similar expectations for students and as noted in Acceptable Use Agreements. Blogging or other forms of social media or technology include but are not limited to social media, video or wiki postings, personal blogs or other similar forms of online journals, diaries or personal newsletters not directly affiliated with AAS.

Consistent with standard privacy expectations in other areas of this handbook,
employees should not publicly discuss students, employees or work-related matters that would typically be considered confidential in other forms. Employees are expected to protect the privacy of the school and its employees and community, and are prohibited from disclosing information and any other proprietary and nonpublic information to which employees have access. Such information could include but is not limited to student and parent information, images of students, student work, financial information, admissions data, etc.

Instructional Blogging – The goal of instructional blogging and instructional social media is to promote sharing of ideas, collaboration, and expanded exchange of information. Instructional blogging/social media may be used to convey information about the school, promote and raise awareness of AAS activities, and communicate with employees, students, and parents to brainstorm, discuss divisional-specific activities and events. To start an instructional blog or social media site, you should consult with technology
leadership in your division and coordinate with the Director of Communications and Development. When blogging or using other forms of web-based forums, AAS must ensure that use of these communications maintains our highest standards of conduct, integrity and reputation while minimizing actual or potential legal risks, whether used inside or outside the workplace. We also have an interest in maintaining connected integrity of our systems and these leaders can provide support in ensuring tight integration with existing systems.

Personal Social Media – It is important to remember that the use of social media networking implies personal responsibility and a complicated separation between personal and professional speech. Individuals can be held personally and/or professionally liable for public commentary that is considered defamatory, obscene, proprietary or libelous by any offended party, including AAS. In order to maintain a professional and appropriate relationship with students, employees should not communicate with students who are currently enrolled (or former students under 18 years of age)using personal
social media sites.

o Staff should not issue or accept student friend requests or follow
individual students on personal social media accounts.
o Staff should decline students’ friend requests on personal social media
accounts. Employees are strongly encouraged to maximize “privacy” settings on personal social media accounts and should not share or allow access to these accounts with students. Staff should not have online interactions with students on social media outside of forums/platforms intended for educational purposes. Employees should refrain from using school-owned equipment, including computers, company-licensed software or other electronic equipment to conduct personal blogging and should not access personal social media during work hours, if said use will constitute a distraction to the learning environment and detract from a staff member’s primary duties as assigned. Professionals should never use social media to harass, threaten, discriminate or
disparage other employees, students or anyone associated with or doing business with AAS. If you choose to identify yourself as an AAS employee, please understand that some readers may view you as a spokesperson for the school. Because of this possibility, we ask that you state that your views expressed in your personal social media site(s) are your own and not those of the school, or of any person or organization affiliated or doing business with the school.
Posting school logos or other proprietary documents on personal social media sites constitutes a breach of copyright. In addition, it is recommended that employees obtain expressed consent of each of any person(s) in the photograph(s) or other image(s) that they choose to post online. Photos of students or individual student work should not be posted on an employee’s personal social media site. While traveling or participating in school-funded business, professional development, school sponsored/funded activities or trips, employees should refrain from posting photographs or accounts of personal entertainment, unprofessional behaviours, unprofessional comments or questionable social activities. Abuses associated with the above guidelines are consistent with similar behavior in other forms of media, print and in real life. As such, adjudication of problems or complaints in this area will be addressed through the appraisal process as appropriate to the Professional Responsibilities domain. If you have any questions related to these guidelines, ask your principal, supervisor, or Human Resources.




4 thoughts on “Course 2, Week 5: Becoming Contributors”

  1. Hi Holly,

    I find it interesting that you say your school does not have an Acceptable Use Policy for your students. Do they use school devices? or any devices?

    I don’t know about you, but I am definitely tired of the negative narrative that happens in these policies and found Scott McLeod’s blog post about Empowered Use Policies ( to be refreshing. It is definitely something I will be considering in the future.

    I also sympathize with what you said about teachers having this policy but never actually being shown it or use it, etc. etc. It just feels like something to cover the school in case something happens, then they have something to refer to. Which does not feel nice!

  2. Dear Holly,

    Thank you for a great post! AUP is really important. School community must have a general agreement and regulations on technology as well as all other facilities like WiFi. But how many of us know about those even if they exist? How many of us read them… Like you said, you read it carefully for the first time only 😉 My school provides WiFi to all staff and students. There are no requirements for everyone to be using it, but we all are using it because it is convenient. Our WiFi has various firewalls and filters, that block out all (or should I say most) of the inappropriate content (and sometimes appropriate as well :)) However, I have to be honest it is quite difficult to find good software which protects the user from unexpected content on the internet. Even using the school provided wifi, working on the research my students were getting some unexpected surprises. Oops… And this is happening, while we are learning because we are learning and exploring ways of using keywords and characters searching online. In this case I only can say, that no matter how strict the AUP is, our – educators’ assistance is really important here and we have to make sure students know how to act in those inconvenient situations, just because filters don’t always help.

    Loved your digital story. All those positive vibes. I could feel your happiness at those moments, even though you couldn’t attend it :). Did I see Ryan (slide #5) on your video? We’ve met in one of the L2 ( conferences 🙂 This conference is amazing and as a technology enthusiast, you should attend it at least once. I’ve been to three of them and can’t stop going :). It is contagious. Many extremely professional educators gather there to share their experience with others. It’s a pity that this year it was canceled because of a pandemic, but I am happy that I could start my COETAIL journey instead. Also, you may find some good information from the L2 Virtual Treads (

    Do you have your own favorite PD?

  3. Hi Holly,
    It was very interesting reading your blog about Becoming Contributors; I had the same questions as Cindy: I found it strange that your school wouldn’t have an AUP for students. I would find it surprising that children in an international school never use technology? Or maybe it is found in the Students’ handbook like at my school, and not on the school website?
    Maybe it is something you could suggest to your administration? Of course by giving them the links to Scott McIntosh to end up with one AUP that will be incentive to student empowerment!
    I would love to hear more about your career path! When you say you have a degree in instructional technology and distance education (never heard of the second one): what does it mean exactly? Where you more ready for Distance Learning than most of us?
    I find it great that although your edtech expertise is at a much higher level than mine, still you are taking another tech certification with COETAIL to continue to improve my media literacy! Respect!
    As you do, I also started to ask students from my school to show me/teach me what they are doing online. And they love it when they realize that you are not trying to check what they are doing, but are interested and want to learn from them <3

    1. Hi, Christel. The students at my school have a digital citizenship pledge that is like an AUP. My ITDE degree was a lot of theory and not a lot of practical application. It was helpful to understand the theories and history of educational tech and stuff like that. I’m really good at writing literature reviews now.:0) I think I was ready for Distance Learning because I had experience. I used to teach Spanish online for a virtual public high school. I knew what to expect and I had my expectations set appropriately. Thanks for your response. -Holly

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