It's been coming up more and more often lately that some of the web tools we depend on may not be there in the near future. Due to a number of issues, and most likely in the wake of our unstable economy, we've lost Lookybook, Mixwit, Switchpod, and more this past year. Because we are increasingly becoming creators of content rather than consumers, this is not good. Even worse, when we use these tools with kids and all of our work disappears, sometimes without notice, what do we have to show for all of the hard work that was done?
Early last week, I got a Facebook message from a teacher who was using Etherpad with his students. Etherpad had gone down and the students' work was inaccessible. Luckily, Etherpad was just having a moment, and was soon back and fully functional. Some of you will remember several weeks ago when Etherpad seemingly shut down operation, as they were bought by Google. Pads that were already created were to be accessible through May 2010, but a Twitter backlash changed the course of their implementation plan for the time being.
This little scare got me thinking: What if my wiki services, or blogs, or other sites I depend on suddenly went belly up? I started thinking about the necessity of saving my information elsewhere besides the services I'm using and I wanted to share what I've done here--in the hopes that should anything happen down the road, we all are prepared!
SAVE! SAVE! SAVE!
To begin with, DROPBOX offers 2 GB of online storage for you to save your files online. With some of what I am about to describe, you may want to consider it a good backup choice for the things you save and also as an opportunity to save the files you use online so that you have anywhere, anytime access to them!
Most of my wikis are created in Wikispaces, which offers an "EXPORT" function. Under "Manage Wiki," EXPORTING is an available option under "Tools." The resulting saved webpage may lose some of its formatting, but the content is still there.
In PBWORKS, "Backing Up" your page is available from the "Pages and Files" link in the upper right hand corner, then the "Settings" tab. The "Back Up" link then appears on the left side menu, but note that backing up your space is a premium feature that a user has to pay for.
For Ning Pages, right now it looks like one can export the list of members and their associated information to a .CSV file. This is done through the "MANAGE" settings, then clicking on "Members," and scrolling to bottom for link to "Export." Other than that, I don't see any other Export/Back Up features. You may need to do a little Copying and Pasting (to a Word Doc) in order to save Critical Information.
In Etherpad, you must use the Import/Export tab to export your work either as a PDF, a Word Doc, and RTF file, an HTML file, or an Open Doc File. If you export as a Word/RTF file, it is still editable, just no longer collaborative, unless you upload it/import it into another collaborative service such as Google Docs.
For your Blogs, Skype Conversations, and even TodaysMeet interactions, your best bet may just be copying and pasting to a word doc. (Additionally, with TodaysMeet, you can scroll to the bottom of the conversation, click on "READ ONLY" and view the whole conversation, making it easier to copy and paste to save it.)
For Twitter, there are several ways to save important information. I don't think Twitter's going anywhere, anytime soon, but just to be on the safe side--there are a couple of things you can do. For one, you can just copy and paste a favorite tweet and save in Word. You can also take screen shots of favorite tweets and save them as a jpeg image. To do this, click on the time stamp underneath the tweet in the regular web version of Twitter. That will isolate the single tweet so that you can grab a screen shot in whatever way you normally do that, and save the image to your computer. If you want to save an entire conversation, consider using a hashtag so that your conversation is easily searchable through Twitter, or another service such as Tweetdeck or Tweetgrid. Additionally, there are other web tools that let you thread a single conversation that started with a particular tweet, such as Twickie. All of these will allow you, in one way or another, to collect the tweets you want so that you can copy and paste them into a Word processing document. (I'm sure there are other ways to do this as well--and I welcome your feedback in the comments section!)
Google Docs allows exports and saving offline from the "FILE" menu.
Animoto, Slideshare, MyPlick, and other web services allow downloads and exports of their hosted content, though you may have to pay a premium fee to do so.
The bottom line is that many of us are creating tons of content online at this point, and it would be a real shame to lose what we've created, especially as it relates to student work. The number of web tools that are out there now is staggering, and unfortunately, many are ephemeral. I hope this gives you at least a few ideas about saving your valuable content and underscores the need to save what you've done outside of the "web." Additionally, feel free to add your own tips and tricks in the comment section if you know procedural elements for exporting content from web tools I didn't mention!
Hope this was helpful!