In today’s digital world, schools are more plugged in and reliant on tech than ever before. In fact, 98% of schools have one or more computers in the classroom, 81% of teachers agree that tablets enrich classroom learning, and 90% say that modern technology is an important tool in achieving success in educational programs.

With technology comes vast resources and opportunities to learn, but it also increases the demand for new ways of integrating both current and future technological innovations into the public education system and individual schools. However, many schools are finding it difficult to meet the various IT requirements that are necessary for running an educational institution, and seemingly never-ending budget cuts continue to magnify this challenge.

One critical part of the equation is the necessary teacher training. Again, most teachers agree that technology is integral to education. However, 60% of teachers feel ill-prepared to integrate and harness technology into the classroom effectively.

This points to a crucial need for continued professional development as teachers and other educators are more and more responsible for educating students about the best practices of technology.

Our students deserve to have teachers, including novice teachers, who are fully prepared to meet their needs. In today’s technology rich world, that means educators need to be prepared to meaningfully incorporate technology into their practice immediately upon entering the classroom.

U.S. Department of Education

Data Storage & The Importance of Backing Up

Best practice number one? Data storage and backup. The first step toward helping teachers harness technology effectively should arguably be educating them on the importance of backing up, and how to pass that information onto their students. All of the technology in the world is basically useless if we can’t safely store the amazing things we’re able to create with it.

March 31st is World Backup Day, a campaign that aims to spread awareness about the importance of storing and backing up your data. According to the creators, “it’s not a question of if your hard drive will fail, it’s when. And if the data isn’t backed up, it’s gone.”

  • 30% of people have never backed up
  • 113 phones are lost or stolen every minute
  • 1 in 10 computers is infected with viruses each month
  • 29% of data loss is caused by accident

For students and teachers, not following backup best practices means leaving countless of hours of coursework, projects, research, and sensitive student information vulnerable to damage, theft, hardware failure, and other data-sabotaging accidents.

Data Storage & Backup: 3 Lesson Points

The following main points are considered the pillars of data backups and storage, and should be the main focus of any lesson for both teachers and students.

1. Prioritize Data Security

The main methods for data backups are physical devices and cloud storage. Physical backup solutions include USB hard drives, and cloud solutions include services like Google Cloud and Dropbox.

Each option comes with pros and cons, and most experts recommend what’s known as hybrid cloud backup, where you backup to a local device and to a cloud service.

Regardless of what you choose, you need to prioritize security and encryption. Doing so helps protect you against identity theft, the main criminal motivation behind data hacks and breaches.

For example, many cloud storage service providers maintain the security infrastructure and must meet strict compliance standards to get certified. Once certified, they must undergo periodic audits. With external hard drives, you can password-protect and encrypt the data using a whole disk encryption program.

2. Backup Every Device

When people think about backups, they automatically think of computers. However, any digital device can and should be backed up, including smartphones and tablets. Tablets are becoming more and more popular as a classroom learning tool, and students often take notes on their own phones if and when allowed.

Because most students and individuals have multiple devices, a cloud storage account will likely make the most sense in terms of cost-effective and safe options. This way, you can have all of your devices backup automatically to the same place, minimizing the risk of misplacing or forgetting about old files stored elsewhere.

3. Do It Regularly

The only way to protect yourself and your students against data loss is to establish a regular backup schedule. Since important work is done in the classroom and at home every single day, it’s best to backup every 24 hours.

Whether you use an external drive or cloud storage, there is always an option to have it backup your files automatically at times you set, so you have full control over this. Since backing up can slow your device down, it’s best to backup overnight.

Bonus tip for teachers: after you’ve run a lesson in data backup with your students, make it part of your daily tasks as a class to backup any in-class devices before the end of the day. Practice makes almost perfect!