Technology comes and goes. That could spell disaster for you! What if you have critical notes/information typed up and stored in a document that you can no longer access because the app you used doesn’t work on the latest version of the operating system? What is you stored all your Professional Development documents in “the cloud” but that cloud doesn’t exist anymore?
Apple Computer is one of “those” companies that is well known for leaving the past behind and doing so without apology! I have so many documents that were created in ClarisWorks and AppleWorks that I have saved over the years. Those documents are useless now. Those apps are what I created all my concert programs in so if I ever wanted to go back and see what we performed in 1999 I am out of luck! Unless of course I could find a paper copy of that program in my file cabinet – gasp…. paper copies and file cabinet drawers?
What about that note taking app you bought into for all your meetings 2 years ago? You know that one that you used all year long, every single meeting, to make sure that you did not forget what you covered. Teachers meetings, professional development, Board of Education Meetings, Band Council meetings, Band Booster meetings and even the sermons on Sunday mornings were all noted down in this app. AND THEN…. a better app came out that looked prettier, synced with DropBox and had a way better way to file and organize all those notes. You left behind that other app and forgot to transfer your notes and then you deleted it three seconds AFTER you remembered you had no way to get those notes back!
What are YOU doing to make sure that your “stuff” is accessible 5, 10, 15 years from now? Do you have a plan?
1)You need to decide what might be needed in the future…. yeah, yeah, I know… but try at least! Here are some ideas;
- Concert programs
- Records of who your student leaders/awards winners have been (John P. Sousa, Drum Majors, etc…)
- How about REALLY important ones – Teacher Evaluations
- Records of Professional Development
- Meeting Minutes
I’m sure you have a few others.
2)Decide what format you could store these digital copies of information in that will be around for time to come.
- Microsoft Office has been around for a long time, is it still a safe bet?
- Apple’s Pages app might be around for a while?
Those are excellent creation apps and we will probably use apps like those to create the documents in the first place. Still though I think you need to think more general for long term archival purposes. I think you might need a copy of copies of the documents. One in the original format and one in a different format like
- PDF – So very easy to use the Print option on Mac OSX and save a PDF copy of those files. IF you are dealing with paper copies then it is pretty easy to scan them and save them as PDF’s
- JPEG – Not my first choice for a document but if all I have with me is my iPhone I will simply take a picture of documents these days – the quality is good enough that it at least allows me to look back at it later for reference.
3)Decide where you are going to store these archival documents. This is going to change depending on the document. Whatever the case, I don’t think having them simply on your laptop hard drive is a good idea!
- Concert Programs/Award Winners/Drum Majors – those type of lists could easily be kept on a website
- Personal Teaching records – obviously an external hard drive and maybe a cloud service like Box or iCloud. I don’t think DropBox is the best idea here because of the limitations of space, 2GB is NOT a ton of space. Box gives you 50GB frequently for free if you watch for those specials. Under everyday signups you still get 10GB for free.
- EverNote – this could be a very viable option. I feel like it is not going anywhere anytime soon. It just always seems weird putting a document inside of a note. It seems like an extra thing to deal with.
4)Figure out a way to name your files that you will be able to recall in 5 years. These days it is easy to come up with a descriptive name for the files. Back when we had to use only 8 letters it was worse than Twitter, trying to decipher THOSE 8 character filenames is ridiculous! So go ahead, put a few extra words in there and don’t use abbreviations that you might not remember in 5 years!
TO WRAP IT UP
You really must plan for the technology and the apps we use today to not be around 5, 10 or 15 years from now. What does that mean for all that information you will need to access in the future? Or maybe it’s not even YOU that wants to have access to that information but maybe it’s the next director who takes over after the guy that replaces you!