Sunday, March 14, 2010

Dropbox: A Must For All Teachers and Staff

One of the biggest problems I have dealt with a a teacher is the inability to access information from my work computer when I'm at home or files on my home computer when I'm at work. I'm constantly emailing documents I create in one place so I can work on them more or use them in another place. Another way to transfer information is to use the Flash Drive. Sometimes I would forget it at home or leave it at work. I know I have talked to other teachers and they have said access to school files from home would be great. Well, I don't think the school will be opening up their servers to teachers anytime soon. Dropbox is the answer to all of our file sharing problems.

I've heard some of the teachers in my PLN talk about Dropbox, but I really didn't think twice about it.  Crawling around the web the other day, I stumbled upon Dropbox and finally decided to give it a look. I'm angry at myself for waiting this long to investigate. The days of Flash Drives and Emailing documents are over. All of my school documents are only a few clicks away. Below is a video you should watch to give you the ins and outs of the system. below I will give you some of the key points that have me excited and some thoughts about how I could use it in the classroom.


I hope you liked what you saw. Once you jump on their website, they have another great video walking users through the Dropbox process. Here are some of the things that really got me excited about using Dropbox as a teacher.

  • I no longer have to worry about transferring documents from one computer to another. If I create a test at home, I only need to save it to the Dropbox Folder. Once I get to school, I only need to log-in to to download the document and use in class. 
  • Sharing is easier. We have shared folders in the district, but many of us do not use them for one reason or another. Most of what I do is created at home. Once I create it there, I email to school, make copies and that's that. With Dropbox, I can create folders for each unit I teach and share them with the teachers in my Department from the luxury of my home computer. There is no need for extra steps. Once a folder is shared with other people, they will be able to access it whenever they want. Again, teachers are no longer chained to their computer in the classroom and that is a huge plus. 
  • I can create folders for work and for personal use. Sometimes I want to share a bunch of pictures from a trip. I can place the pictures in the folder and share it with family and friends. Too often, pictures are all over the internet for people to see, but this can allow people to actually keep copies of pictures taken at events. 
  • iPhone access! I downloaded the Dropbox app and can have access to all of the same documents on my phone that I would see on the computer. I can double check to see what documents I have access to from anywhere in the world. If I decide to make a document accessible to the public, I do not have to wait to get to a computer to do so. I can also take pictures from my camera and post them in the shared folder. On a trip, family and friends could view pictures as I take them instead of having to wait until I get home to upload them to a site like Flickr
  • I can share individual files with anyone I want. If I really don't want someone to look at my entire folder, I can store the document (Word Doc, Picture, Song, etc) in a public file and it will create a special URL link I can send to anyone I choose. Click here for an example.
The last point is very exciting to me. In theory, I could create public folders for each of my classes and share documents with my students from any computer I want. hey could be assignments, news articles, pictures, etc. Not only that, student could share documents with me through a public folder. This could be the last step in my attempt to create a paperless classroom. Now, any assignment I want, can be turned in to a public folder for me to grade. I'm sure there will be bugs to work out, but this could be a valuable tool as teachers look for ways to make important class information available to students no matter where they are. 

Lastly, Dropbox is not for teachers only. Any person that uses multiple computers will find this helpful. Think about the times yo have wanted to work on a document, but it was on the "other" computer. With Dropbox, those problems are now gone.

- Give it a try!

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