Lately, I have had the technology jones. April was not a good month for me and technology. My technology at school and at home has let me down and I have a few thoughts as a result of these technology disasters, now that I am on the other side.
First, early in the month, the NCSSM Moodle site, a course management software system, completely crashed. those of you that know me, know that I have COMPLETELY invested in the blended curriculum concept and that crash really handcuffed me in all of my courses. I have created instructional videos for all of my classes I have students taking quizzes and turning in audio projects via Moodle for my recording classes. And, I use it extensively in my orchestra class for instructional videos, distribution of recordings and other related music, as well as for jury sign ups and other purposes. In my piano and guitar classes, it is simply the portal for the entire course organization. So, when it crashed and the backup servers didn't do their job, I lost a ton of information and work. I would estimate that I have something like 50 to 60 hours of work to bring my courses back to a fully functional place. Not to mention the fact that I lost several assignments that students had submitted to me electronically earlier in the term. That makes giving mid-term grades pretty dicey. Not fun.
Second, at about the same time as the great Moodle crash of 2010, i decided to take the leap and purchase a Blackberry. I stepped up my wireless plan to an unlimited DATA plan and picked up Blackberries for both my wife and me. We felt that we had arrived at a place where we really needed to have phones that would provide us with our e-mail and calendars on a portable basis, as well as the ability to get to the web on a moments notice for information purposes. Our scheduling has become so complex that it felt like the right thing to do at this point. No problem - right? Wrong!
In my zeal to get the Blackberry synced up to my computer, I somehow removed all of my calendar info from my laptop beginning in June of this year. Now, for those of you that know me, this is a huge problem. I am booked sometimes as much as 18 months out for various appearances and performances. I am constantly juggling a busy school, performance, and family schedule and pride myself in my organization. This was a DISASTER. I spent the next several days trying to hook up with the nice folks at Sprint. I must say, they were very helpful and after two LONG days of troubleshooting at the store, my data was restored. This situation caused me a ton of stress, at least one sleepless night, and several hours of troubleshooting at this store and at home.
Add these two major catastrophes together with the usual Windows freeze-ups, I-pod battery dieing, cable out, and other day to day tech issues and it was an April to remember.
I think that I could have handled one of the two major tech disasters this spring without much of a problem, but the two simultaneous problems definitely left me with the technology jones.
So, I have a couple of big reminders for everyone today. First: back up your information. This is a hard lesson to learn. We had been assured at school that our Moodle courses were being backed up weekly. It didn't happen. I actually bought an external drive to back up my Moodle pages at Christmas time. It never happened. I also intended to back up my Outlook Calendar. This, too, never happened. We have to do it. We are all relying on technology for the organization of our lives more and more each day. We, as individuals, can't afford to lose it. It isn't that hard and it doesn't take that long. Take a minute today to find out how to back up your Outlook calendar. A quick Google search will give you the procedure.
Second: Listen to the cues that your technology gives you. If things aren't working properly, that is the time to back things up. right now, my fan in my laptop needs cleaned. It has been shutting down intermittently due to overheating and I haven't found the time to get it into our IT guys for a cleaning. I have to make the time. Otherwise, it could spell disaster.
Our technology is so important to us today. I use it for my teaching, my social life, my bookings and performing life, my family schedule, my creativity, and for so much more. Be smart about the way that you care for your information. I know that I have learned the hard way. I am hoping the this season of the "Technology Jones" is about over. As I work today to rebuild my courses, I am hopeful that I won't have to do this again. The ball is in my court.