|Title||Ways to Define User Expectations
|Author||B. Manning, D. Perkins
Network Working Group B. Manning
Request for Comments: 1746 ISI
Category: Informational D. Perkins
Ways to Define User Expectations
Status of this Memo
This memo provides information for the Internet community. This memo
does not specify an Internet standard of any kind. Distribution of
this memo is unlimited.
This paper covers basic fundamentals that must be understood when one
defines, interprets, or implements methods to control user
expectations on or over the Internet.
User agreements are a form of acceptable use policy (AUP) are an
implicit part of internetworking since they place parameters on user
expectation. They define the desired and expected behaviour of those
who participate. Everyone has one, whether published or not. This
applies to networks that provide transit paths for other networks as
well as end sites and the individual users that use systems. A
better understanding of an AUP, and how to formulate one seems to be
increasingly important as the global net encompases new environments
as varied as K12 schools and real-time systems. AUP's are used to
determine pricing, customer base, type and quality of service
metrics, and a host of other provider services.
2. Components of an Agreement
In defining your particular agreement there are three areas that must
be addressed. They are where you get service from, who your peers
are, and whom you provide service to. A good understanding of these
concepts will make or break the policies you formulate.
2.1 Where you get service from
Each entity gets its service from one or more other providers,
either a level three service, such as IP transit, or a level two
service, such as circuits. The provider of such services usually has
an policy in the form of an agreement or contract specifying terms
and conditions of use. This forms the basis for the type of service
offerings that you as an entity can provide. If you get service from
several providers, all of them need to be considered in the
formation of policy.
2.2 Who your peers are
Are your policies consistent with those offered by your peers? In
many cases, the formation of policy will define who your peers are.
It is important to clearly identify which areas you intend to reach
and the community you wish to be a contributing, productive part of.
Once this is clear, formulate polices along those lines.
2.3 Who you provide service to
It is required that you inform those who use your services just what
your policies are. Without this information, it will be almost
impossible for them to distinguish what to expect from your service
offering. Without a clear policy it is possible that litigation may
ensue. It is important to reflect community standards in the creation
3. Some Issues to consider
IP provided services can be complex. They comprise both information
and communication. In the formulation of policy it is critical that
the policy provide for security and access to information and
communication while ensuring that the resource use does not
overburden the system's capabilities. These conflicting demands must
be analyzed and a synthesis arrived at. This hints a fourth
component of an AUP, that it has a method to extract compliance.
This is so site specific that further analysis will not be attempted
Some items that should be considered in the formation of policy are:
- privacy - morals & ethics
- freedom of expression - legal constraints
- safety - harassment
- plagiarism - resource utilization
- indemnification - targeted areas of interest
- expected behaviours - remedies and recourse
This should not be considered as an exhaustive list but as pointers
for those types of things to be considered when policy is formed.
4. Security Considerations
Security and Liability issues are not discussed in this memo.
User Agreements are here to stay. As the Interconnected mesh of
networks grows, the choices presented to end-users mandate that
provider/user expectations are clearly presented. Use of these
guidelines will help create a clearer, better defined environment for
USC/Information Sciences Institute
4676 Admiralty Way
Marina del Rey, CA 90292
Instructional Media Services
Houston Independent School District
Houston, TX 77027
For further reference on some acceptable use policies, see the
following materials archived in Armadillo--The Texas Studies Gopher:
Name=Acceptable and Unacceptable Use of Net Resources (K12)
If these resources are not available to you, you may want to review
the attached policy and justification that is in use by an NSF
sponsored project on K12 networking. It provides a view on the
thinking process and actual Agreement that was worked out for this
The Internetworked School: A Policy for the Future*
Barry J. Fishman and Roy D. Pea School of Education and Social Policy
The CoVis Network Use Policy itself appears as an appendix to this
The next five years will radically change the ways that schools
relate to the world around them as global computer networks--long the
exclusive domain of higher education and private industry--link up to
primary and secondary schools. The Internet, a network made up of
many smaller contributing networks, represents a powerful educational
resource unlike anything that precedes it. Its potential for
education grows with the establishment of each new connection.
For the first time, schoolchildren have the means for simple, direct
contact with millions of adults in a forum that masks their physical
youth and presents them as virtual equals. However, just as the new
kid in school has to learn new social codes and rituals to fit in,
schools must learn some of the practices and etiquette of the
Internet. Of course, the established denizens of the Internet will
soon have some adjusting to do as well, with thousands (or millions)
of new kids knocking electronically at their doors. Since the
Internet was not designed with children in mind, many potentially
difficult issues must be discussed by both the education and the
This article presents a framework for thinking about some of the
issues that are essential to making the initial encounter between
schools and the Internet successful. It also presents an excerpt of a
policy that embodies our approach to resolving those issues.
Expanding Access, Expanding Horizons
For roughly the past decade, schools increasingly have participated
in specialized computer networks such as the NGS/TERC Kidsnetwork,
the Intercultural Learning Network, and FidoNet, as well as for-
profit services such as CompuServe, America Online, and Prodigy. The
majority of these projects were conducted on networks, where
teachers' or students' messages could not be read by anyone beyond a
predetermined audience composed of other students and teachers. These
projects made it possible for students and teachers to communicate
with their peers in faraway places and pioneered some pedagogical
uses of networks for computer-mediated communication and
collaborative project work that will carry over to the Internet.
Internetworking, however, goes beyond proprietary systems by joining
a vast number of distinct networks into one large network, the
Internet. As individual schools and bulletin boards are connected to
the Internet, the number of people and services within easy reach
increases exponentially. By one estimate, there are currently 19
million users of the Internet, with an annual growth rate approaching
80 percent. Furthermore, some of the Internet's most powerful
communication tools are specifically designed so that any of these
millions of people could join any conversation. The network's true
power comes from the synergy of many dispersed minds working together
to solve problems and discuss issues, and there is little in the way
of hierarchy or control of the discourse.
The schools' shift to internetworking systems involves critical
technological, as well as pedagogical, issues. It requires a change
in the school computing paradigm from centralized computing to
distributed client-server systems, thus bringing about an
administrative change in the nature of school computing. Many schools
that currently have some kind of network access provide accounts only
to teachers or administrators. Internetworking is fundamentally
different--giving accounts, access, and therefore control directly to
There are numerous arguments for the pedagogical benefits of school
internetworking. But what of the risks? What safety, liability, and,
above all, educational concerns must be addressed before schools are
ready to tap into the Internet? This policy is not intended as a
document that sets limitations or restrictions. Rather, it is
designed to facilitate and set guidelines for exploring and using the
Internet as a tool for learning. The policy was written with the
purpose and goals of the Internet as a background: support for open
research and education in and among research and instructional
institutions. The context for the policy was provided by the specific
needs of a growing community of learners composed of students,
teachers, scientists, and researchers. The networked environment must
support collaboration and cooperation. Proper frameworks to support
network navigation and information searching must be established. And
because networks will continue to be a scarce educational resource
for the foreseeable future, the policy also provides guidelines for
maximizing the educational cost-benefit ratio for teachers and
Testbed for Change--The CoVis Project
Our framework for considering internetworking issues is a project
currently being conducted at the School of Education and Social
Policy at Northwestern University. The Learning Through Collaborative
Visualization Project, CoVis, is designed to reconceptualize and
reconfigure high school science education. CoVis is a networking
testbed funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Its goal is
to enable project-based approaches to science by using low- and
medium-bandwidth networks to put students in direct contact with
practicing scientists and scientific tools. In CoVis, we are working
with the types of network connections we believe will be common in
schools in the near future.
In the first phase of our project we are working with two Chicago-
area schools, Evanston Township High School in Evanston and New Trier
High School in Winnetka. CoVis is deployed in 12 classes at the two
high schools, involving three teachers at each school. Approximately
300 students are involved in the project: 100 freshmen, 100
sophomores and juniors, and 100 seniors, all enrolled in either earth
science or environmental science classes. Each classroom contains six
Macintosh Quadra computers with audio/video conferencing units linked
to an internal ethernet, which is linked to Northwestern's ethernet
by a primary-rate Integrated Services Digital Network bridge for
telecommunications using the public-switched network. Additional
computers are available for Internet use in computer labs at each
The CoVis Network Community consists of students and teachers in
CoVis classes, scientists who wish to collaborate on CoVis student
projects, the researchers conducting the CoVis project, and other
interested parties who are granted special accounts. In the CoVis
classroom, each student is given an account that makes him or her a
"full" member of the Internet community. This means two things: Each
student has access to all Internet services with minimal mediation by
teachers or other adults, and anybody with an Internet account can
contact the students directly, again without mediation.
In addition to the standard Internet resources, which include
electronic mail, listservs, Usenet news discussion groups, Telnet,
gopher, and file transfer, CoVis makes it possible for students to
communicate with peers and scientists via video and audio conference
tools and remote screen-sharing technology for synchronous
collaborative work. Therefore, the CoVis Network Use Policy goes
beyond the needs of the typical low-bandwidth internetworked school.
As an NSF testbed, CoVis has the job of developing new frameworks for
the use of internetworking. In seeking to understand problematic
issues of networking, we turn both to other projects--Bolt Beranek
and Newman's work with the Ralph Bunche computer-minischool in New
York; AT&T's Learning Circles; and TERC's LabNet project--and to
analogous situations extant in schools. Our attention thus is placed
on the development of a policy to establish ground rules for the
students who will be introduced to the Internet.
The Need for a Proactive Policy
Exciting or revolutionary educational programs too often are
derailed. In the 1970s, Jerome Bruner's curriculum Man: A Course of
Study (MACOS) was at the center of a political and ideological
firestorm that prevented its implementation in many schools. The
experience of the MACOS developers taught us that it makes sense to
spend time in the initial stages of a project trying to determine
what challenges might arise to an educational innovation in order to
avoid, preempt, or co-opt them.
In March 1993, the Communications Policy Forum, a nonpartisan group
of telecommunications stakeholders convened by the Electronic
Frontier Foundation, met on the issues of Internet services for the
K-12 educational community. The forum concluded that services should
be provided only to schools that would indemnify the service
providers. It also recommended that a warning statement be developed
to advise schools of the presence of materials on the Internet that
may be deemed inappropriate for minors.
We believe that it is not enough to devise a policy designed to
protect schools and service providers, although our policy also
speaks to those roles. In this policy designed to guide students
through some of the social complexity presented by the Internet, we
created guidelines to alert novice users of established expectations
and practices. Because the Internet is somewhat anarchic in its daily
commerce, it is necessary to define a safe local space, or identity,
for a school network where students can feel like members of a
supportive community. The goal of establishing the boundaries of our
own community forms the framework of our policy.
Issues and Analogies
The kinds of issues posed by internetworking are not new. Similar
issues have been debated by schools many times before, from creation
science to dress codes. These concerns resurface in the availability
of networked material that some parents, teachers, or students might
find objectionable, pornographic, or otherwise inappropriate.
Although the actual percentage of materials in this category is
small, their mere presence draws plenty of media attention. Consider
this lead-in to a story about graphic material that can be retrieved
through the Internet, published in the Houston Chronicle in 1990:
"Westbury High School student Jeff Noxon's homework was rudely
interrupted recently when he stumbled across the world's most
sophisticated pornography ring....It was supported by taxes and
brought into town by the brightest lights of higher education."
While some are shocked, an alternative interpretation might point out
that in using a valuable resource provided by the local university, a
high school student chose to view material that many (including
regular Internet users) find objectionable. Educators must understand
that, as a byproduct of introducing internetworking, schools likely
will have to justify student use of network resources to a public
that does not understand the medium or its utility to education. By
seeking out analogous situations and applying them to the development
of our network use policy, we believe it is possible to establish
frameworks for responding to these challenges. We found several
* American Library Association (ALA). In considering information
access issues, the most striking and informative analogy is to a
remarkable set of documents built around the ALA's Library Bill of
Rights of 1980. It is not farfetched to consider the Internet, at
least in part, as a vast digital library. After all, the electronic
database and information search tools it employs are rapidly becoming
part of new school media centers, and many public and school
libraries are beginning to offer some type of network access to their
The ALA documents state, "Attempts to restrict access to library
materials violate the basic tenets of the Library Bill of Rights."
However, they add, what goes into the library collection should be
chosen thoughtfully and with an eye toward instructional goals.
School librarians are bound to devise collections that "are
consistent with the philosophy, goals, and objectives of the school
district," and they must "resist efforts by individuals to define
what is appropriate for all students or teachers to read, view, or
hear." Similarly, tools used to access the network must be designed
to direct access to materials that support curricular concerns. Thus,
the interface to the network embodies the notion of a library
collection. In a school network policy, the "intent of the
collection" should be clearly reflected in a statement of purpose for
Directly addressing the information access needs of children, the ALA
opposes attempts to limit access based on the age of a library user.
"Librarians and governing bodies should maintain that parents--and
only parents--have the right and the responsibility to restrict the
access of their children--and only their children--to library
resources," it states.
While we in the CoVis Project have some ability technologically to
restrict what is in our Internet "collection," it is virtually
impossible to prevent students from accessing materials whose
presence we never anticipated while preserving the students' status
as full members of the Internet community. In this way, the Internet
is fundamentally different from a relatively static library
collection. Following the lead of the ALA, however, we believe that
the precise limits placed upon students' access cannot be formalized
by the school policy. Instead, it is the students' responsibility to
adhere to the standards set by their parents.
* American Society for Information Science (ASIS). The code of ethics
of ASIS provides another informative analogy, this one speaking to
issues of professionals' responsibilities to both individuals and
society. Where individuals are concerned, information professionals-
-a designation we believe should be applied to teachers--must strive
both to "protect each information user's and provider's right to
privacy and confidentiality" and "respect an information provider's
proprietary rights." With respect to society, information
professionals should "serve the legitimate information needs of a
large and complex society while at the same time being mindful of
[the] individual's rights." They also should "resist efforts to
The ASIS code speaks directly to issues of electronic mail privacy.
We believe that students and teachers must feel certain that their
communications are private. In many electronic mail systems currently
used in schools, the teacher must act as an intermediary between the
school and the outside world. When students are "full" members of the
Internet, mail is sent directly to the outside world with no human
mediation. As a rule, such communications should be private, and the
network policy must make explicit any reasons for teachers or
researchers to have access to message content. Users must be made
aware of times and circumstances under which private mail may be
* Prodigy. Privacy in electronic mail communications seems like a
straightforward issue--it is analogous to the U.S. mail. But what
about network bulletin boards or Internet newsgroups? Posting a
message in one of these public information exchanges may raise
questions of freedom of expression among students and other network
users, but no more than in any other public forum.
One approach to dealing with this issue was described in the Wall
Street Journal's technology supplement of November 15, 1993. Prodigy,
a dial-up bulletin-board service jointly owned by IBM and Sears, has
a strict editorial policy for both its public forums and its members'
private email exchanges. Prodigy employs editors who screen every
message before it is posted, sometimes delaying posting by up to 40
hours. It also uses special software to screen messages for what it
deems objectionable language. The result is a lowest-common-
denominator approach to what is acceptable or unacceptable material.
This approach undervalues the maturity of Prodigy's users. In the
CoVis classroom, we want to strive to develop students' maturity, and
in order to learn these lessons, they must feel that their message
content is under their own control. To let students know what level
of behavior is expected of them, we are very clear about the use of
offensive, obscene, or inflammatory language on the network. These
guidelines are not unfamiliar to the students in CoVis, as their
local school codes of conduct include the same admonitions. Offensive
messages posted by students are not ejected from the network.
However, students can lose their privileges on the network if they
post such messages (a significant disincentive for CoVis students),
and they are encouraged to post a retraction or apology once they
understand why their message was problematic. These interventions are
only initiated upon the complaint of another user, not as part of an
explicit editorial policy.
* School Conduct Codes. Every school has a code of conduct for its
students that details appropriate school behavior, outlines rights,
and sets expectations for students. Because the CoVis Network is used
as part of a school activity, the school's code of conduct applies to
network activities. Thus, we believe the network use policy should be
an extension of the school's policies. An important part of the
development of the CoVis Network use policy was a close reading of
the participating high schools' codes of conduct. For example, at one
of our high schools, special rules against vandalism of computer
equipment and unauthorized access to information exist. These rules
cover such important concepts as computer piracy, hacking, and other
tampering with hardware or software. Both CoVis schools have codes
warning students that use of harassing or abusive language is
unacceptable, as is obscenity. At the same time, both high schools
place a high value on students' right to freedom of expression and
outline the dimensions of that right in some detail.
* Field Trips. All of the rules that apply to student conduct in
school also apply when the students are off campus on field trips.
The Internet offers many opportunities for virtual field trips to
distant locations, and CoVis adds a new twist to this genre with the
addition of full audio and video connections to remote locations.
Students in the CoVis community will be able to "visit" the
Exploratorium in San Francisco, directing a remote camera around the
exhibit floor and engaging in conversations with guides and other
museum visitors. It is important that students realize they act as
ambassadors for their school in such encounters, and our policy
states this explicitly. Currently, parental permission slips are
required before students may take field trips. At one of our
participating high schools, such slips are required even for "trips"
within the school building. Is there a precedent for extending the
concept of permission slips to the virtual field trip? We do not
believe so, but we do recognize the importance of written information
alerting parents to interesting or innovative school activities.
Beyond the Barriers
Barriers to internetworking in schools are being lowered every day,
and soon electronic bulletin boards may be as familiar to the
American classroom as blackboards. Educators are encouraged by
continuing developments that make the Internet accessible to schools.
This is accomplished in part through commercial networks such as
America Online and Delphi and by the decreasing costs of modems and
communications software. With the cooperation of nearby universities,
dial-up Internet connections can now be obtained for an investment of
under $100 per existing computer.
Schools will find tremendous new opportunities for enhancing,
extending, and rethinking the learning process with the advent of
internetworking. But will they be ready to face the challenges? To
date, schools have had little experience with advanced
telecommunications technologies. Many classrooms still lack even such
basic tools as telephones. Given the general lack of communication
even between classrooms in the same school, it will not be easy for
schools to join in the fast-paced discourse of the Internet. The
CoVis Project has taken a proactive stance toward the issues that
internetworking raises for schools with the development of a
network-use policy based upon the best lessons available. We invite
feedback on our policy and offer it as a contribution to this
exciting and rapidly developing area of educational technology.
Barry J. Fishman is a Ph.D. student in the Learning Sciences program
of the Northwestern University School of Education and Social Policy.
Roy D. Pea is Dean of the School and John Evans Professor of the
Learning Sciences at Northwestern. They acknowledge the assistance of
Laura D'Amico, Larry Friedman, Paul Reese, and Dick Ruopp in the
preparation of this article. Their research is supported in part by
National Science Foundation Grant MDR-9253462.
Margin Notes: Electronic versions of the original texts of American
Library Association, American Society for Information Science, and
Houston Chronicle documents can be found at FTP (file transfer
protocol) address ftp.eff.org, in the pub/academic/library/directory.
The Communications Policy Forum meeting is reported on by Andrew Blau
in the EFFector 5(4), also available from ftp.eff.org in the
/pub/EFF/newsletters directory. Statistics about the Internet are
available from ftp.nisc.sri.com, in the /pub/zone directory. Both of
these FTP sites can also be reached via gopher.
For further reading:
Roy Pea, "Distributed Multimedia Learning Environments: The
Collaborative Visualization Project," Communications of the ACM (May
Denis Newman, Susan Bernstein, and Paul A. Reese, "Local
Infrastructures for School Networking: Current Models and Prospects,"
Bolt Beranek and Newman Tech Report No. 7726 (1992).
Richard Ruopp, Shahaf Gal, Brian Drayton, and Meghan Pfister, LabNet:
Toward a Community of Practice (Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, 1993).
APPENDIX: THE COVIS NETWORK USE POLICY
A. Mission Statement
The Learning Through Collaborative Visualization Project (CoVis) was
established to explore project-enhanced science learning supported by
advanced computing applications in a secondary school environment.
As such, the computer network environment supported by the project
(the CoVis Network) is designed to enhance the learning and teaching
activities of the participating science classrooms at New Trier and
Evanston Township High Schools. The term "network" in this document
refers to a number of computers and other electronic tools that are
connected to each other for the purpose of communication and data
sharing. CoVis is a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded
research project, and use of the network is therefore provided to
allow the study of its impact on learning and teaching.
1. Purpose of the Internet
The Internet (a global network made up of many smaller
contributing networks) and its services are intended to support
open research and education in and among US research and
instructional institutions, plus research arms of for-profit firms
when engaged in open scholarly communication and research. Use
for other purposes, e.g., for-profit activity or extensive
personal business, is not acceptable.
2. Purpose of the CoVis Network
The purpose of the CoVis Network is to facilitate communications
and collaboration between members of the CoVis community. Network
use is primarily intended for the support of project work
conducted for participating CoVis classes, and far less
significantly for other purposes that students and teachers
determine to be of educational value. The CoVis Network has
limited resources, and CoVis classrooms have limited time
available for network- supported teaching and learning activities.
Any use of the network which adversely affects its operation in
pursuit of teaching and learning or jeopardizes its use or
performance for other community members is prohibited, and may
result in the loss of network privileges.
B. Services Available on the CoVis Network
The CoVis Network consists of a variety of computing equipment,
software, and network connections. This section describes the
primary tools and services approved for use in the CoVis Network.
Other tools may be used, but may not be supported by the system
1. Cruiser Videoconferencing. Cruiser is a tool designed to
allow video and audio connections between two people, each of whom
must have a Cruiser station and access to the CoVis network.
Cruiser conversations are private;
2. Timbuktu Screen-Sharing. Timbuktu is a commercial software
product that allows a Macintosh user to view or control another
Macintosh computer remotely (with the remote user's permission).
This is designed to allow two or more people to work together over
the CoVis Network. Timbuktu sessions are private;
3. Collaborative Notebook. The Notebook is a personal or group
workspace designed to support project work in CoVis classrooms.
Work done using the notebook may be either private or public, as
designated by the user. Users should be careful to note whether
they are working in a private or a public portion of the notebook.
4. General-Use Internet Tools. These include, but are not
limited to, the following:
a) Electronic Mail, or email. Email is just like regular mail,
except instead of paper, you use the computer. Email
correspondence is considered private. The CoVis Project uses a
program called "Eudora" for sending and receiving mail.
b) Listservs. A listserv is a means to broadcast an email
message to many users for the purpose of maintaining a
discussion list. Although listserv messages are transmitted
via email, correspondence is public, so extra care should be
used when participating. The program called "Eudora" would be
used for participating in a listserv.
c) Network News. Netnews is a communications tool for large
group discussion. Netnews is essentially similar to a
listserv, except that it does not use email as the means of
communication. Instead, you use software called a "news
reader" to read and post messages to the appropriate groups.
Newsgroups are very public, and should be used thoughtfully.
The CoVis project employs a program called "NewsWatcher" for
reading and posting news.
d) File Transfer Protocol, or FTP. File Transfer Protocol is a
means of moving files between computers on the Internet. The
CoVis project employs a program called "Fetch" for doing this.
e) Telnet. Telnet allows you to connect to other computers on
the Internet, provided you know the machine's Internet address
and appropriate password. All provisions of this document
apply to members of the CoVis community while using remote
computers via Telnet. The CoVis Project uses a program called
"NCSA Telnet" for telnetting operations.
f) Gopher. Gopher is a means of navigating the Internet via a
menu-driven or point-and-click interface to the computer.
Gopher is a very convenient way to retrieve files and
information from sources all around the globe. For most
purposes, it may be considered an easier form of FTP and can be
used to initiate Telnet sessions. The CoVis Project uses a
program called "TurboGopher" for gopher searching.
C. Who is a member of the CoVis community?
All account holders on the CoVis Network will be granted access to
all services the network offers. The following people may hold
accounts on the CoVis Network:
1. Students. Students who are currently enrolled in a CoVis
class will automatically be granted a network account upon
agreement to the terms stated in this policy;
2. Teachers. Teachers of CoVis classes may hold accounts on the
CoVis Network. Other teachers may apply for accounts;
3. Scientists. Scientists who wish to collaborate on student
projects will be granted CoVis Network accounts. The exact nature
of the account (i.e., which services are available) will depend on
4. Researchers. The researchers conducting the CoVis project
will hold accounts on the CoVis network;
5. Others. Anyone may request a special account on the CoVis
network. These requests will be granted on a case-by-case basis,
depending on need and resource availability.
Note: Except in special cases listed above, people from the larger
Internet community are not part of the local CoVis community, and
will probably be unaware of the existence of this policy.
However, you should always treat people you "meet" on the network
with respect, as if they were a part of your community.
D. Privileges and Rights of CoVis Network Community Members
Members of the CoVis community have certain network privileges and
rights. These include:
1. Privacy. All members of the CoVis community have the right to
privacy in their email, Cruiser, Timbuktu, and notebook
communications when so designated by the user. However, if a user
is believed to be in violation of the guidelines stated in this
policy, a system administrator or teacher may need to gain access
to private correspondence or files. An attempt will be made to
notify the user of such inspections whenever possible. As CoVis
is primarily a research project, researchers may periodically make
requests to study or view correspondence and files, but
confidentiality is ensured in such circumstances. Also, it is
important that users recognize the fundamental differences between
public (e.g., news) and private (e.g., email) forms of
communication, and shape their content accordingly;
2. Equal Access. All members of the CoVis community will be
granted free and equal access to as many network services as their
technology allows. Exploration of the Internet is encouraged
relative to the purposes of the CoVis Network;
3. Safety. To the greatest extent possible, members of the CoVis
community will be protected from harassment or unwanted or
unsolicited contact. Any community member who receives
threatening or unwelcome communications should bring them to the
attention of a system administrator or teacher. Users must,
however, be aware that there are many services available on the
Internet that could potentially be offensive to certain groups of
users. The designers of the CoVis Network cannot eliminate access
to all such services, nor could they even begin to identify them.
Thus individual users must take responsibility for their own
actions in navigating the network;
4. Intellectual Freedom. The CoVis Network must be a free and
open forum for expression, including viewpoints that are strange,
unorthodox, or unpopular. The network administrators will place
no official sanctions upon the expression of personal opinion on
the network. However, the poster of an opinion should be aware
that other community members may be openly critical of such
opinions. Occasionally, a message that you post may be met from
outside the CoVis community with especially harsh criticism (a
practice known as "flaming"). It is best not to respond to such
attacks, unless you believe you are capable of a measured,
rational reply. Personal attacks are not an acceptable use of the
CoVis Network at any time. The CoVis Project does not officially
endorse any opinions stated on the network. Any statement of
personal belief is implicitly understood to be representative of
the author's individual point of view, and not that of the CoVis
Network, its administrators, or the participating high schools.
E. Responsibilities of CoVis Network Community Members
With the rights and privileges of membership in the CoVis Network
community come certain responsibilities. Users need to familiarize
themselves with these responsibilities. Failure to follow them may
result in the loss of network privileges. These responsibilities
1. Using appropriate language. Profanity or obscenity will not
be tolerated on the CoVis Network. All community members should
use language appropriate for school situations as indicated by
school codes of conduct;
2. Avoiding offensive or inflammatory speech. Community members
must respect the rights of others both in the local community and
in the Internet at large. Personal attacks are an unacceptable
use of the network. If you are the victim of a "flame," take time
to respond rationally, and bring the incident to the attention of
a teacher or system administrator;
3. Adhering to the rules of copyright. CoVis community members
must respect all copyright issues regarding software, information,
and attributions of authorship. The unauthorized copying or
transfer of copyrighted materials may result in the loss of
4. Re-posting personal communications without the original
author's prior consent is prohibited. To do this is a violation
of the author's privacy. However, all messages posted in a public
forum such as newsgroups or listservs may be copied in subsequent
communications, so long as proper attribution is given;
5. Use of the network for any illegal activities is prohibited.
Illegal activities include tampering with computer hardware or
software, unauthorized entry into computers, or knowledgeable
vandalism or destruction of computer files. Such activity is
considered a crime under state and federal law;
6. Avoid the knowing or inadvertent spread of computer viruses.
"Computer viruses" are programs that have been developed as
pranks, and can destroy valuable programs and data. To reduce the
risk of spreading a computer virus, do not import files from
unknown or disreputable sources. If you do obtain software or
files from remote sources, follow proper procedures to check for
viruses before use. Deliberate attempts to degrade or disrupt
system performance of the CoVis Network or any other computer
system or network on the Internet by spreading computer viruses is
considered criminal activity under state and federal law;
7. You have full responsibility for the use of your account. All
violations of this policy that can be traced to an individual
account name will be treated as the sole responsibility of the
owner of that account. Under no conditions should you give your
password to another user;
8. Impersonation is not permitted. Real names must be used,
pseudonyms are not allowed;
9. Anonymity is not allowed on the CoVis Network. As an
educational network, we believe that individuals must take
responsibility for their actions and words;
10. Exemplary behavior is expected on 'virtual' field trips. When
'visiting' locations on the Internet or using the Cruiser or
Timbuktu communication tools, CoVis community members must conduct
themselves as representatives of both their respective schools and
the CoVis community as a whole. Conduct that is in conflict with
the responsibilities outlined in this document will be subject to
loss of network privileges.
This article is reprinted with the express permission of TECHNOS:
Quarterly for Education and Technology.
It originally appeared as: Fishman, B., and Pea, R.D. (1994). The
internetworked school: A policy for the future. Technos: Quarterly of
Education and Technology 3 (1), 22-26.