23 April, 2010

Data Liberation and Online Learning

In my own formal and informal learning, free web based tools are really useful. For example Feedreaders like Bloglines are a quick and easy way to follow updates from a large number of web sites, journals, and other sources, and social networks on Ning are useful to keep in touch with communities of practice. In my teaching I use Google Docs to create and distribute materials, as each document can be given a web address and easily shared, and even worked on collaboratively.

However as we've mentioned before, nothing lasts forever and whenever you create important data using a tool or service that is out of your control you need to consider how you can back it up and export it to another service.

I write this now because Bloglines has been 'down for scheduled maintenance' for a while now which indicates it might be closed, meaning anyone who hadn't backed up their data from it might have lost it. Also Ning has announced that it is closing down the free ad supported section of it's business, which was used in a small way here at Edge Hill University and by many educators around the world.

Whenever you look at using at any online tool in your teaching or learning, the ability to back up and export your data to another service (you should always have a Plan B) is vital.


Update: Bloglines is back up now at 3pm BST on 23rd April... but still export your OPML file as the owners don't seems to see it as a priority and it might not be here much longer.

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