Google Lively Incident Should be a Caveat, not a Defining Moment

Just reading this post from Tom Barrett over at  Box of Tricks
where he points to my Google lively post about my students losing these great virtual worlds that they've created.

I started asking myself: what would happen if Google decides to axe Google Docs or Google Apps in the same way it axed Lively earlier this week? What if the internet connection is lost when you most need it? What if Google mess up? (is it really that improbable?)
Then I reminded myself that Google is probably the largest advertising agency in the world, a public corporation with over 20,000 employees worldwide who need to get paid and shareholders who aren’t in it for the good of you or me. What would happen to my files if Google decides Docs does not provide a sustainable revenue stream? What if Google appoints a new CEO who thinks differently? Are these things really so far-fetched in the current economic climate?
Finally I couldn’t help but wonder if we would not be better off promoting the use of Free and Open Source Software to create and share universally compatible and locally hosted content instead of the likes of Google Docs (visit the Open Source Schools website for more information on OSS).

Here is my response to Tom:

I think there is an important point to be made here — what is the alternative?

Most school IT directors delete EVERYTHING in the summer time — not archiving of student work. Additionally, if a student changes schools and doesn't think to backup their files – they don't have them any more any way.

Honestly, I think that Google Docs has a longer “shelf life” than the typical folder on a server at a school. I think of how many jump drives my students lose and how many of them come back years later to ask for that copy of the resume they left on the server four years a go — there is no way for me to find it.

I just don't think that IT departments have the kind of archiving to compare to Google Docs. Sure, if the student is very responsible and can remember to store their files and keep the jump drive – fine. But I know for me, I often do not.

Besides that is the rule that if something is created or stored on a school or college's network that it is the intellectual property of that school or college – some may actually prefer to store those files at an offsite location rather than on the school network.

I don't think this is as clear cut as it seems.

I think that what happened with Google Lively should serve to add a caveat to our work, rather than a defining moment.

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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2 comments

MizzB November 26, 2008 - 6:14 am

At my school we’ve been using think.com which is run (free) by the Oracle Foundation. I’ve got student work up there from three years ago. It lets teachers and students build out pages, upload pix and video, create projects which are like wikis. And it’s a closed system; you have to be part of a school to use it, thereby eliminating outside predator issues. You might want to see if it’s robust enough for your needs.

Gareth Davies November 29, 2008 - 9:36 pm

An open source alternative to Google Docs that can be installed on your own server space is Opengoo:

http://www.opengoo.org/

Not quite Google Docs, but pretty good.

Gareth

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