Often, I’ll get a spate of similar questions and turn the combined answers into a blog post. This time, I only got the question once but it seemed like a good topic to address: should instructors use the Export option in Copy Course Components to make offline backups of their courses? Are there any best practice recommendations from the Carmen team?
My answer: this would be a situational or personal preference.
For and against #1
Every time you do a full Copy Course Components when you re-offer a course, you are essentially making the old course a backup of the new course. Making an off-line back-up as well would be redundant.
If you tend to make changes to both old and new courses as you go along but want a “snapshot” of how the course looked at the beginning and/or end of the term, then an offline backup would be the solution.
For and against #2
If the concern is to “back up your courses because the system might fail — just like your hard drive might fail — and if that happened you wouldn’t be able to get your courses back,” then no, individual course backups really shouldn’t be required. We do systematic backups of the whole system and if something disastrous were to occur, we would restore the whole thing.
If you are especially paranoid about worst case scenarios (e.g., Carmen fails bigtime AND at the same time the backup system(s) get fried by a kamikaze squirrel), backing up individual courses would probably be soothing.
It’s also possible, in a worst-case situation, that you just completed major work in a course in the little window between the last incremental backup and the huge disaster. In that case, we wouldn’t have a backup of the major work and you would be glad of your offline backup.
For and against #3
A bigger concern from our perspective is someone who wants us to restore an image they deleted from the file manager, or a content module full of URLS, or half-a-dozen quiz questions, or whatever.
We can’t do a piece-meal backup of one or two files or course elements. If we were to do a restore-from-backup, the whole system would be returned to a previous state.
In most cases, you probably do have an old course with the deleted files / modules / questions / whatever still there that can be copied again. Ideally, you will also have copies of documents and other resources still on your computer.
If you are a person who makes a lot of course changes or sometimes gets over enthusiastic about your digital housecleaning, then periodically making an off-line backup would be a useful strategy for you.
A final reminder
The offline backup that you can do as an Export from Copy Course Components only includes the instructor materials. It doesn’t include grades, dropbox submissions, discussion posts, quiz attempts, etc. To get that kind of information backed up, see http://elearning.osu.edu/carmen-help/instructors/common_backup.htm.