Technology Tips for Teachers  

May 14, 2012

As the school year comes to a close, you may have come across a new end-of-the-year dilemma: what to do with all this digital content. I am going to bet that I am like many of you and have most of my stuff on my computer. I write a new lesson, or a student hands in an iMovie and I put those in the appropriate folder on my computer. It is important to back up your digital files, and I do, just not as much as I should. I will cover three basic ways to back up or store your content.

The first option is to burn the content on to a DVD or CD. This is a great way to keep homework files from the past year. Burning to a disc is also a great option for photographs. You can use the disc in kiosks to make prints, or use in DVD players to watch slideshows of photos. If the class has done some iMovies, you can create DVDs of the projects for the students to keep.

A second option is external hard drives and USB drives. Today, the cost of storage is greatly reduced. The silver USB drive in the photo is my first pen drive I bought (years ago) and it is 64 MB. It cost me about $64 at that time. The blue USB drive is 1 GB and it cost me $5 (and that was a couple of years ago). Most external hard drives are just as portable as USB drives today. I use my external hard drive to back up my digital components for my classes: lesson plans, movie and music files, and presentations. USB drives are great for daily use in the classroom or small file transfers. Also, many Blu-Ray players have USB ports to play your digital movies. (As a father of five, a great way to take movies with us when we visit grandma and grandpa for Christmas.)

And then there is the cloud. The cloud has many options. On April 24, Google announced their cloud storage option, Google Drive. Apple has the iCloud, Microsoft has SkyDrive, and I bet your Internet provider has a cloud storage option. These options allow you to store your everyday digital files: documents, photos, videos, and music on the providers "cloud." The benefit of cloud storage is accessing files from anywhere and on almost any device.

Computers do crash, servers go down, and devices do run out of power. It is important to backup your digital work. And yes, I will be taking my own advice; I have some blank discs sitting on my desk just waiting for student work to be handed in.