Monday, August 11, 2008

Problems With Technology

I ran into two unforeseen problems in the maintenance of my blogs. One of these problems I have solved, the other I have not.

When I first established this blog, I set up a free file sharing account at a website known as MediaMax. Using the MediaMax free service, I would be able to upload my school documents and link to them from this site for others to download. This enabled me to provide easy access to the array of PDF files and the podcast that reside within my various posts. However, within the last few months, MediaMax changed nearly everything about its philosophy. The website changed its name to The Linkup and switched over to a completely paid system. Given the fact that I was using the free service, all of my files were removed. This left me a with a bunch of dead links on my blog, not where I wanted to be after putting in a lot of time and research to set up the links properly.

I did not want to pay for the new service on The Linkup, as that totally went against my philosophy on using freely provided services (hence the reliance on Google for this whole endeavor). I had to find something different. I uploaded all of the files (except the podcast) to my Google Documents page, but I could not successfully link to them from my blog. I eventually settled on a free file sharing service called, and all of the files are now accessible to all interested parties.

The other technology problem is still, sadly, without a solution. A short time after establishing this blog, I set up a second one for use with my classes. On it, I would detail my class assignments and post handouts for each day. About two months after setting it up, however, Dumont High School's administration announced an edict stating that teachers will not be allowed to maintain web sites outside of district control. I had to stop updating the site. All of the previously entered text is still posted for posterity, but I lost my method of sharing my day's activities for students and parents to read outside of school. I understand Dumont High School's concern for student safety in the public domain, especially in the days of internet predators and hackers. But, I still don't know how to replace this service. I think the school is struggling with this, as well, as the administrators are still searching for an in-house equivalent to the options teachers have for creating content on the world wide web.

The most important message of this post is that using technology is not a simple matter of tapping some buttons and watching magic happen. There are many different concerns and problems, some of them within our control, some of them unforeseen. Trying to get out in front of a new movement in education will obviously have some early-adopter problems. I was happy and lucky to solve one of them (although I currently have no contingency if changes, as well), but I am still searching for a solution to the second one. I will post if there are any new developments.

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