Demystifying the Responsible Use Agreement.

Yesterday was our 5th Y6 1:1 iPad Launch event for around 150 families from three junior schools. The careful process that leads up to a rollout: stakeholder communication, online shop, ordering from July, student emails created & linked to Apple IDs, device integration into MDM, app deployment and order chasing, is significant.

Y6 lessons from the start of term @BSNJSL involve student account setups on school network and Edmodo and the introduction of Responsible Use Agreements [RUA].

On Launch Day, we use minimal signage, designed to guide visitors to the key launch locations, with directional arrows, and a step by step guide, e.g.: ipad-launch-signage-2014

During the day, I noticed that many walked past these, or stood close without seeing them, consequently asking where to go. It struck me that if the information in front of you, whatever the format doesn’t mean anything to you, or you don’t make connections between it and it’s purpose, it’s not effective.

The same applies to the Responsible User Agreement.

From experience, we know that students need time to become familiar with the RUA.  With the support or their teachers, and through activities that make the content real to them. Each year we adjust this, depending on the learning styles of the cohort. Students work in pairs to read through the RUA and discuss:

“What did it (content) mean to you? Tell us in your words…”

This enables lots of talk. It’s the talking, questioning and negotiation of meaning here that I feel is so important. In a recent staff meeting,  we were challenged to reduce our Outstanding Learning Habits statements into 30 words only and present this in teams. I lifted this idea and asked students to create a punchline – they could decide whether this was a poem, one sentence, or slogan that we could build into later displays.

In the image below you can see how some formulated these for the three RUA sections entitled ‘Keeping Safe’, ‘Being Organised’, ‘You Must’.


Students receive two copies: one to keep at home and one to bring a back to school. This enables us to use similar language when any support is needed.

Issues Escalation:

Students immediately jump to the escalation section – where it mentions police consultation in its ultimate stages. This always grabs attention, however, as with the rest of the document, it’s needs explaining in terms that make sense to 10-11 year olds.

I switch this around to focus on the stages that lead up to that – empasizing that we are ALL working on a positive behaviour model whereby we develop confidence to make sensible choices in how we organise our digital behaviour, creations and share with respect to peers &/orcommunity. We remind students “You are 10 – there was life before the iPad. You still need to eat, sleep, socialise with your family and play outside”.

It’s all about balanced right time, right place, right use.

We are upfront with students, and parents that mistakes will happen and need to happen in order for further conversations about behaviour choice, as well as digital learning, to take place.

We learn from making mistakes, and this is crucial to acknowledge.

Whatever your paperwork says, it’s the human involvement in the process that has the biggest impact. This applies to students, parents and staff. On Launch Day, families arrive from all BSN schools, meet Learning Technology Managers from 3 sites, IT colleagues and a range of staff supporting us on meet & greet. Naturally, for some, those faces, and the building layout etc. may be unfamiliar.

It doesn’t matter that the signage reads What Do You Need To Do? > 1. Collect iPad in Year 3/4, 2. Go to Waiting Area… without a friendly face that can guide you to where that is, and unwrap what ‘Collection Area’ means.


As Learning Technology Managers, part of our job during the workshops is to translate school expectations into real experience and open up dialogue with families. This is part of our everyday business, and we know how important it is for example, for families to feel secure and supported when their child has a device that they are now responsible for.

Along with that, we value the ongoing school-home liaison that enables us to evaluate, and gain feedback about the positives, as well as the challenges this responsibility brings once the device leaves the school and goes home.

Demystification Successful ?

For Stage 1, Yes. Students devised some clear and meaningful slogans to show their understanding. When they took them home, they were given the  job of being a Teacher. Part of their responsibility was to explain what the document ‘meant’ to them – to their parents.

Their explanation was then backed up in our Launch Day workshop sessions which outline the whole program, expectations and allows face to face time for questions.

Today marks Stage 2: when the practical learning really begins!


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