Friday, February 1, 2013

Pulling the Plug on Shared Knowledge

Sometimes, you just have to take action

by Karen Hamilton - Thursday, July 15, 2010, 11:07 AM

Here's a case study:

You are a master's student at a large American university enrolled in a program that explores curriculum, technology and education reform. As part of your program you are not only encouraged but required to publish your work on the university controlled servers using systems like Moodle, Mahara and the college's hosted Wiki. One day in passing, you see a notice posted in the program moodle that says all the servers will be shut down in 4 weeks (by August 15) and that if students want to save their work they must somehow make copies because all of the work will otherwise be lost. The program's moodle and mahara will now be part of a larger department's moodle and mahara and students may recreate some of their work step by step there by cutting and pasting. The college Wiki may not be saved or resurrected. The college wiki represents many years of the collective knowledge and scholarship of previous and current students.

As an individual, you have created an extensive portfolio that includes much multimedia work and scholarship inside the Mahara platform. The program tells you that the current version of Mahara does not support back-up and restoration to another Mahara site. You hear that a newer version of Mahara does allow for back-up and restoration to another site, but that the school does not intend to move to that upgrade at this time.

Your only alternative short of losing your Mahara work is to upload piece by piece your work into the other Mahara which may be deleted after you graduate. As for your Wiki work and the collective work of students from previous years, it all will likely disappear at the flick of a switch.

What should you do?

Sadly, this is 100% real and happening now.

In the midst of one of our courses the above actually happened. Many of us were contacting the people who were running our program. Those people were trying to explain to the powers that be that the work of former and current students shouldn't just be disposed of in the blink of an eye. They were getting nowhere. When the above "Case Study" was posted in our current course the professor took notice. He actually didn't know anything about the actions that the school were about to undertake. Since he was a rather prominent professor when he spoke up, things changed and the WikEd was saved.  This was a case of being in the right course at the right time and just taking a risk and throwing it out there..victory for the little guys!

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