Over the course of an average year, schools will amass large troves of photos, videos and audio files. Visits, assemblies, performances and events all offer ample opportunities for capturing the life of a school, and that’s before you even get to use of cameras and audio recorders for curriculum work.
This is all wonderful, but it presents several challenges. With digital media files tending to take up lots of space, where you should you store them all? Once they’re stored, how can you organise them so that specific clips are quick and easy to find? And how should you decide who outside of school can access them?
One solution is to store all your media files in the cloud. Most schools now use a learning platform such as Google for Education, or some form of service from the likes of Apple or Microsoft for remotely uploading and storing their files. This way, space is often no longer an issue, and you’ll be able to control file and folder permissions, making it possible to quickly allow or bar access to specific files by parents and others outside the school.
Everything is stored in one central area. Unfortunately, however, the terms of service you agree to when using cloud services can be subject to change, and it’s not unheard of for remotely stored files to disappear without warning. True, it’s unlikely that Google, Microsoft or Apple are going to shutter their cloud services any time soon, but you can never be 100% sure.
There can also sometimes be issues involved in transferring large volumes of files one cloud provider to another (to say nothing of the risks that can come with entrusting your remotely stored files to services that may be more focused around the needs of business than educational users). For these and other reasons it’s a good idea to always keep local backups of all your files. That way, you can have a two-tier solution – files archived locally for safekeeping, but also available online for easy access and sharing.
A normal hard drive likely won’t be large enough for storing all of your photos and videos. A better option might be to look into a media server or networked attached storage (NAS) drive – a hard drive inside a dedicated device that can be connected to the school network and left permanently switched on. You could also reassign a computer on the school network to sole purpose of storing and archiving large media files.
Remember that you need to be able to find those files once they’re stored. Rename your files using a set system, such as ‘2018-Y3-Tower of London.jpg’ and organise them via a system of labelled folders and sub-folders – perhaps by year group, then by class, type of event (assembly, trip, etc) and type of media.
Finally, be mindful of the government’s rules governing the collection and use of data by schools – a good starting point is the DfE’s privacy notices, recently updated to comply with the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Terry Freedman is an independent education technology consultant and writer.