Sunday, March 16, 2008

Putting it all out there

Those of you who follow my suggestions for uses of web tools may be interested in one of my readers questions:

"As one who is moving more and more stuff online (photos to web albums in Picasa and Bubbleshare, documents to Googledocs, meeting agendas and minutes and associated stuff to various wikis, my calendar to Google, I have avoided asking these very questions because the potential answers are just too scary to contemplate. In the same digest further one, I read that a geocities website has gone down, files vanished, perhaps irretrievably. Should we back it all up somewhere else."

I have been telling myself to get my stuff backed-up, but don't ever seem to make the time. Are we becoming too dependent on others? Will my presentations all disappear into the cyber-void someday?
I am looking forward to your SOPs and thoughts.


Markus said...

I certainly trust some services more than others, and some to equal extent as the worry that my own house might burn down. I haven't yet negotiated for my neighbor to let me do nightly back-ups. I don't put a lot of stock in many of the works that I create testing out new Web2.0 tools. I am often testing out tools that have just released or that are still in beta phases. I guess I feel that any of these "new" tools might be here today, gone tomorrow. For many of my works, I am willing to admit that they are also in beta stages and that their loss will likely be just cause for new versions if they were lost. There are a bunch of these out there that I wish would get lost and that I am glad I am not maintaining or trying to keep organized.

I certainly trust that any of my works stored in Google Apps services are as well maintained as with any service I have have access to... over my own schools back-up and security systems and certainly over my own. They own all my stuff anyway... so it would be their loss :o)

The concerns I am more often considering have to do with what it means for Google or others to have rights to everything I do with the tools they freely offer.

This question sadly makes me think more about the overall value of all the things I have stored online. I don't deal with personal records or information much, most of the things I do online could go away and I wouldn't be at loss of great significance. My family pictures and videos are backed up. Beyond that, I don't do a whole lot of "looking-back" that doesn't come from the data-base stored in my head.

Let's face it... past a month, who ever looks at those old meeting notes or agendas? I find I feel better every time I find some time to throw those things out myself. I constantly have the urge to go into my Google email and just wipe out everything. Thank goodness it is searchable.

Kern Kelley said...

I think the convenience of cloud computing will (or already has) overtake concerns people have for their privacy. Look at online commerce as the model. Initially I'm sure many said they would never trust an online store, but now with eBay, Amazon, etc. the battle's over.

I think the idea of storing one's digital life on Google's servers will be moot. I'm sure that most of our students don't think about where their information is stored online (even when they should!)

Scott said...

I've always had two concerns for using Web 2.0 apps like Google for the classroom. First is the security piece. Just how secure are the documents and other media that our teachers and students put on their. Second is "What is the internet goes down?" It doesn't happen often in my 6 schools, but when it does students and teachers would no longer be able to access their work.

With that being said there are many advantages to using sites like Google. One students, teachers, everyone can work on their work anywhere that there is internet access. Second the backup. I tell everyone that if they have important documents, that they can backup the said document by exporting it to their system, and that way if they are at home working without internet, or in the case that Sharon was talking about documents are lost they can just import them. All of my school's teachers at MSAD #74 have their own laptop so they don't see the real advantage of using Google for let's say word processing rather then NeoOffice, that our students do, but that doesn't mean that we should shy away from that technology that they use.

Even businesses are getting into the Web 2.0 movement. When you think about it, it does make good business sense. You only have to make sure that a web browser is installed on the computer, and deploy the computer. Then for backup there isn't the big expense that there usually is.

Markus said...

Scott, your teachers don't see the real advantages in using Google Docs over NeoOffice?

Some reasons:

1. NeoOffice is such a "fat" application... it takes forever to open on our ML MLTI machines and when it is open it is very hard to have other application running simultaneously. Most teachers don't "multi-app"... not as much as students, but many seem to not quit applications. This can cause problems with the operational effectiveness of the machine.

2. Documents created in Google Docs can instantly be shared with others, allowing people to collaborate or share their documents with others, without creating multiple versions of the same file.

3. Documents can instantly be published online so they can be shared with others publicly... giving them web publishing capabilities, without learning other web design tools.

4. If you move on to help teachers Google Apps for Educators... this opens up many other reasons why they might eventually save time and find it advantageous... ex. The new Google Sites tool in Google Apps allows you to embed any type of Google Doc file directly into a page of the site. This would allow the following; a teacher uploads all the documents, presentations, and spreadsheets they have made in the past into Google Docs... then they can embed any of those into their Google Site, directly as new pages of the site.

5. Anything put into a Google App is search-able, tag-able, more easily accessible.

If you want to have some resources that will point toward these advantages and possibly provide things you can use to help others understand the potential advantages, check out the following:

A couple of the embeded videos and resources link to YouTube videos. Our school blocks YouTube, but maybe you can access these at home.