The original concept of the web was to connect documents. Obviously, the web has grown and expanded. Now, there are many, many different places to put “your documents”. Now your “documents” are no frequently longer web pages or documents that you write, but rather things that you post on other’s web sites.
Lots of people now post their “documents” to places like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, InstaGram, Tumblr, etc. These sites all make it really easy to post information. They all vary in how easy it is to get your data out of their system. They also control where your data lives. Generally, the trade off is the ease of use to post (and network effect of those there) in exchange for your data living in their ecosystem.
Similar to the personal examples above, there are many professional examples as well. Many people are using some the of the sites above in a professional manner. There are also sites like BlackBoard, Edmodo, Haiku and more. These sites vary from some free access to some very expensive options. Beyond the cost (because usually the cost is born by the school district, not the individual teacher) is the idea of who owns the data. Here the data is the very hard work that a teacher has put into developing that site. Getting that data out can be difficult.
Why does this matter?
I know a teacher who recently switched districts. This is a technology proficient teacher who had created a wide range of classes, activities, resources, etc digitally. However, the district that this teacher was in, had contracted their LMS out. That means that the teacher could not take her data with her. She had some terrific lessons that she had spent time developing and could really use now. However, her data is locked up somewhere else. She can no longer get to it.
There is also a movement called the IndieWeb. The basic concept is that you write a text post, post a picture, post video or some other type of data and then it is connected to whichever other destinations that you want it posted. For example, you could take a picture and post that picture to Instagram, Facebook. This means that even if one of those sites goes away, you still have your picture. Think about how many pictures exist on Facebook only. Maybe that’s fine. But it should be a choice. Here the idea is that you own the data, you post the original and “copies” are distributed around to other sites.
Now the same thing really can be done right now. One can set up a web site, purchase a domain name, install a couple of plug-ins and away you go. This is what I’ve chosen to do via this site. However, it does take some work. Not everyone is going to do that.
It is far easier to sign up for a service like any of those above. Next, hope that there are people there (and especially the right people). Be thoughtful though.
This is why I’ve started and use this site. This is one reason that I’m a big believer in Moodle. With this site, I’ve also installed Moodle. I own the data. I can use it however that I want. I’m not dependent upon others. That also means that I need to maintain the site. *It’s really not that hard to maintain.
No matter what you choose, at least make the choice thoughtfully. Do you want to own the data? Do you care if the data goes away? Just how important is the data?