The deleted, the dying and the dead. Useful online resources may not live forever

There are two contradictory trends with the internet. Firstly, mind your digital footprint. Things you say on a forum, on Facebook, on twitter, on your blog etc. will follow you around for ever, possibly affecting your career prospects.  Secondly, although the internet gets ever bigger parts of it are dying. A recent frustration has been trying to find documents online which I know are useful, but no longer seem to exist online.

Gravestock. Disability CPDPhil Gravestock’s 2006 guide: DisabilityCPD: Continuing Professional Development for Staff Involved in the Learning and Teaching of Disabled Students was at once available online, but my recent attempt to find an electronic copy failed. I have a printed copy, but I wanted to make it available to participants on our PGCert course so thought electronic would be best.  I found a few secondhand printed copies for sale online, but that didn’t seem a very efficient way of getting copies into the hands of the PGCert participants. Fortunately the author was able to supply me with an electronic copy which I have uploaded to our student area (obviously not my place to put it into the public domain). One lesson from this episode has been the ease with which once easy to find documents can get totally lost, through website reorganisation or the closure of the organisations which produced them. Secondly (as an aside) I have become aware of how relatively little has been done about disability in higher education since the first decade of this century. The specialist National Disability Team and TechDis are no more. Much of the work done by the Learning and Teaching Support Network (LTSN) is hard to find, and similarly the work of the former subject centres is unevenly archived. This means that older work of the type published by Gravestock is not being updated or superseded. (For example the legislative issues dealt with by Gravestock are not up to date, although the pedagogic principles and practices still stand).

marsh and chengI recently struggled to find the analysis of the National Student Survey Marsh and Cheng (2008) undertook for the Higher Education Academy. I eventually found it on the HEA website under the Islamic Student Network domain with a somewhat ominous url which included the phrase ‘delete this soon’. Very concerned about this, I have downloaded materials from the HEA website in case they get deleted for any reason.


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