As I wrote in one of the early ProfHacker blog posts, it’s always a good idea to have a backup plan. This truth was brought home to me this semester in my teaching.
About a month ago, students in my course on “Writing in Digital Environments” began experimenting with Storify, a social media curation tool we’ve covered before here at ProfHacker.
As part of their work for the course, the students have been using Twitter since the semester began. As a homework assignment, students were given the task of analyzing (and presenting) their Twitter activity.
Unfortunately, on the day the Storify assignment was due, some students (and apparently many Storify users) lost their work due to a mistake made by Storify with their database. This mishap became an object lesson in never trusting blindly in thestability and security of the cloud. As a class, we decided not to use Storify until they come up with a way of allowing users to make our own backups of our stories. (Storify says they’re working on this, but they haven’t given me a date by which they expect to have such a feature enabled.)
In order to fulfill the task of analyzing and presenting their Twitter activity, students would need to use an alternative to Storify. Unfortunately, I did not have a backup plan (i.e. a selection of other curation tools for them to use.) So we took this list of 40 curation tools, divided it up among the students in the class (each student tackled 2 of the items on the list), and quickly evaluated each one to see if it would fit our needs. If you’d like to take a look at the results of this evaluation, you can view the GoogleDocs spreadsheet that resulted from my students’ work.