The most significant problems that I have had with online teaching have been with the loss of data on the part of my students. I suggest highly to each instructor as you communicate initially with your students to emphasize the importance of a central location for backup of papers, research, bookmarks, pictures, audio files, PowerPoint presentations and any and all communications that might be needed in the future for completion of assignment and course requirements.
The three most tragic results I have had in the years of teaching online have been in regard to students losing assignments to be handed in. One of my best students had a wonderful paper in hand--we had worked over five weeks on this--when her computer malfunctioned and she lost the file containing the paper. She had sent on the prior revisions so these were up on the BU server and she then had these older documents, however the newer work including her updated research was lost. BU has a “My Files” location for saving student work which is super as it is a “cloud” location outside of the student’s computer that is independent should something happen at home and the file then can be retrieved. I recommend each student obtain either a Flash Drive or become involved with an online memory storage location and CONTINUOUSLY and METHODICALLY save to this independent location from their computer.
A second student left his project on his school computer and there was a system malfunction at the school and it was lost. This was tragic as the project was in its last stage. Again, a backup on a Flash Drive would have been of total importance. The third tragedy occurred in the loss of a PowerPoint presentation that was one of the final parts of the course evaluation requirements and it was lost with a computer malfunction. A suggestion to everyone, both instructor and student, is the purchase of a Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-Portable Drive (my current one is 1 TB). This is very portable; is a CNET editor’s choice; utilizes USB 3.0 Plug-and –Play; and adapts to USB 2.0. It works simultaneously with both PC & Mac and provides a huge amount of space for storage and also for transfer of files should you work bi-platform on both computer formats.
As an instructor, I also make sure that I have backup of my student files and communications so if something unforeseen might occur with the BU server I have all previous communications on file. This is highly recommended to both instructors and students should you have a grading dispute and need to access information that might resolve the issue or support your position. Whether you are working in synchronous or asynchronous mode this is a very important direction to follow.