Backing Up Education Data: The Dog’s Still Eating Your Homework

Long ago in the days of yore, students had to keep track of binders and folders and backpacks full of papers, along with notebooks and heavy textbooks. With the ream of paper that they were carrying around at any given time, it’s no wonder one would get misplaced here and there, resulting in those infamous “my dog ate my homework” moments. In these cases, a student would have little recourse but to accept a bad grade or start over from scratch.

But of course, we live in the future now, far removed from the bad old days of drowning in paper. Cloud computing came along and made it possible to store an assignment in the ether instead of in the confines of a disorganized backpack. The cloud made it possible to virtually submit an assignment without having to hand over yet another piece of paper, and the cloud made it possible for teacher, student and parent to access that document at any time from anywhere.

But that didn’t stop the dog from eating your homework.

Although there is no paper to lose, it’s easy to accidentally delete a virtual assignment with the click of a mouse, and it can take much more than a click to get it back. And with the collaborative classroom technologies that are still being figured out, it’s easy for a shared document in a group project to get overwritten by someone else’s changes with no real way to step back in time to the previous version. And between bad syncs and malware, a file might suddenly decide to change or disappear for no apparent reason. In all of these scenarios, the student has the same recourse as before: accept a bad grade or start over from scratch.

But there may be another way.

Backup plans are ubiquitous in the business world; businesses know that lost data means lost money, period. And success in the business world is defined by what’s in the bank account, so they spend a little money to make sure they don’t lose a lot.

But in education, the yardstick is grades; lost data for a student means lower grades. And lower grades have been connected to lower self-esteem, lower motivation, higher anxiety, and a general decrease in their ability to succeed in school and in life. So maybe backing up education data makes sense for students too, even though most rarely think of the two together.

It’s easy to see why a business needs to backup their data. It’s even easy to see why school administrators and teachers are backing up education data to keep their schools and classrooms on track. But students need to stay on track too, and one of the ways we can help them do that is by making sure that the work they do is safe from mishaps. We give them lockers for their physical belongings – we should provide the same for their virtual property.

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