Take It To Go: Is Your Students’ Data Portable?

We’ve all been there before.

After investing time, money, and energy into a new web service, it suddenly closes its doors or goes from free to paid only. Or maybe your school will no longer be paying for the subscription.

Your options vary when this happens, and it all depends on how ‘export friendly‘ the tool or app is.

We feel strongly that student work should always be completed on a platform that allows the student to archive their work or take it with them. So, we reviewed many of the most popular services currently being used by students to publish to the web to see just how open and portable they really are.

Not Export Friendly

  • Google Sites – There is the option to export a site as an html directory, but there is not an easy way to isolate user content.
  • Kidblog – Since the new updates, we can’t find any evidence of an export or RSS feeds.
  • Medium – The one on this list not often used by students, but its popularity deserves a mention. They will send you html files, but RSS feeds won’t contain all content.
  • Seesaw – No evidence of any export tool or RSS feeds.
  • Wix – The Wix support site makes it very clear that exporting is not possible. Unless you like copy/paste over and over again.
  • Weebly – There is an RSS feed which can be imported to other tools, but it isn’t easy to use.

Export Friendly

The following web publishing services all have the option to download an .xml file of content, or have an RSS feed that is easy to work with. This means that content can fairly easily be moved back and forth between them all.

  • Blogger
  • Edublogs / CampusPress
  • Squarespace
  • Tumblr
  • WordPress

You should also consider data portability in all types of tools that you and your students use, not just for web publishing. At a minimum, the platform should make it easy to save work as a PDF, image, or in a format that some other application can open, too.

Remember Posterous and the panic caused when Twitter bought it and then shut it down? Services do come and go, and being prepared in case it happens is key. Even more important is teaching students that what they write is theirs to keep, to do with as they wish, and to provide them with the means to do so.

12 thoughts on “Take It To Go: Is Your Students’ Data Portable?

  1. Interesting blog. I have never thought about the fact that some of this data may not be easy to access after a while. It would good to gain information on what is and is not export friendly.

  2. I have been spending some time to get my head around the different spaces. I wonder with Kidblog whether you could create a widget to export the posts in an RSS form that would allow for some sort of exporting? It really is though a strange platform. On the one hand, it is perfect. Easy to use. Simple. However, its flaws are glaring.

  3. Great article! I’m teaching webdesign to 5th-9th graders in a summer course, so I need a platform that is ok for kids under age 13. Do you know if you need to “agree” that you are over 13 on any of the platforms that you recommend? I’d like each child to be able to sign up for his/her own website and I’m looking for something free and portable, ad free and accessible from home and school and I’d love it to be WordPress based, like Edublog is. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Debbie – appreciate the comment! I know that Edublogs allows under 13 since we don’t require any personal identifying info (names, email addresses, etc.). To the best of my knowledge, all other platforms do require parental consent or for the users to be over 13. The exception would be Google’s Blogger when the account is part of a Google Apps for Education domain. Thanks!

  4. Thank you for your great post. I do agree that students need a portable platform to complete or achieve their work which is the future road for them.

  5. I could not agree more. This is the reason I sought WP (via the old Edublog Campus: now CampusPress) for student publication needs in a former district. I still see this platform, and the service Edublogs provides around it… to be one of the key tools available for innovative approaches to student-centered approaches to learning/authoring.

  6. Two tools that aren’t mentioned: Moodle and Mahara. Both are open source and easily allow exporting.

    Moodle is a terrific Learning Management System. While it may not be as flashy originally as some other sites, what you (and more importantly students) can do is unparalleled.

    Mahara is an ePortfolio system. Students totally own and control their own work. This includes exporting that work out.

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