Tuesday, August 18, 2009

How to keep those old electronic grade books

As we are about to start the new school year with a new student information system, the old teacher grade book software, InteGrade, which we previously used will no longer be available. This caused a good question to be raised by member of the faculty:
A thought just occurred to me as both a teacher and former department chair.

Seeing as though there is no longer going to be use of Integrade, it may seem that we no longer need the program application around. However I have my own Integrade files over the years as a teacher, and as a former department chair who kept department faculty's files each marking period. If I delete the program application, ALL THOSE FILES Become unreadable (data rot). Is there something in place as a school, so that if the need arises, we can access the information in those file in future years?

There seems to be no conversion option for Integrade files. In other words -- are we going to keep at least one turntable around in order to play the record albums in the future?

I posted my response here for others with the same question:

We no longer have the rights to use InteGrade and there is no plan to keep it around somewhere for the purpose you mention. This is a common problem with all electronic data and the best practice for dealing with this problem in general is to save the data for later viewing in a common format. In this case, I recommend that you print the appropriate InteGrade reports for record keeping purposes to a PDF file. Primo PDF, which we have supplied on your tablet, will work well for this purpose.

In some cases, PDF files are better than the original proprietary application data because most hard drive search tools or uploading files to services such as Evernote will allow you to search them all en mass. (While Google Docs lets you upload PDFs, it doesn't currently appear to let you search them all at once. Bummer.) The version of PrimoPDF I just tested (4.0) does create searchable PDFs. If your tablet has an older version that does not create searchable PDFs, you can download the latest version for free at primopdf.com. (I don't remember when Primo added this feature but I believe it was a few years ago.)

All that said, InteGrade does not need to be "installed" in order to use it. If you copy the InteGrade program folder currently on your tablet to a CD and stick it on a shelf, you could copy it back onto your computer at a later date if necessary and it should run. (It might even run directly off of the CD.) Of course, this assumes in the future that you are using a computer and operating system that InteGrade would still work under, which is not a certainty as technology evolves. This is another reason why common file formats like PDF are good for archiving.

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