MET:Dropbox for Educators
Dropbox is a free service (with paid options) that lets you bring your photos, documents, and videos anywhere and share them easily. You can synchronize your Dropbox files with any computer or login to the Dropbox website to access your content from anywhere with internet access. According to the Dropbox website, "today, more than 100 million people across every continent use Dropbox to always have their stuff at hand, share with family and friends, and work on team projects."
Dropbox Tutorial Video
History of Dropbox
Dropbox was founded by Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi in 2007. They were students at MIT and created Dropbox to solve the issue of having to constantly email themselves the files they were working on.
The basic and free Dropbox account gives you 2.5GB of storage space, but it is easy to earn additional free storage space of up to 16GB in total by referring friends to Dropbox, uploading photos from your camera, connecting to social media, etc. As you can synchronize your Dropbox account with any computer, it can be used the same way as your My Documents folder, but gives you access to the same files wherever you are.
File Sharing via Links
Any file you have in your Dropbox can be sent to another user via a uniform resource locator (URL) or web address. The user then goes to that URL and is able to download the file to any location they desire.
An additional benefit of Dropbox is that it allows you to Share Folders with other users so they can access and edit all the files in that folder. This is especially useful for individual departments within a school to share files such as final exams, schedules, and unit plans. Users can also share links to a file within their Dropbox to other users, so students who miss a class can be given the link to download all the required documents.
The settings of a shared folder can be easily changed. If you no longer need access to that file it is possible to leave the folder so it will no longer be in your Dropbox. You can also change the settings so that someone else can be the owner of that folder and control it. One thing that is important to remember when sharing files, is that every shared folder in your Dropbox counts toward your storage quota. If you have files that people shared with you that were only needed for one day, you may want to go back and delete them to free up more space in your Dropbox.
Previous Version History
Another benefit that busy teachers will appreciate is the ability to go back and see previous versions of a file. There is no longer a need to save different versions of the same file because you can always go back and access them from within Dropbox. If you saved a file when you made a change that you did not want to keep, it is possible to access the previous versions of that file instead. The free version of Dropbox allows you to view 30 days worth of previous versions, while the paid versions of Dropbox allow you to access previous versions as far back as they go.
- Shared Folders for Class Materials
- Student Portfolios of Work
- Lesson and/or Unit Planning
- Shared Department Folders for Important Materials
- Student Work Submission (via Dropittome or other similar app)
- School-wide forms and document sharing (instead of an intranet)
- Storage space for website pages and documents to create simple websites
- Connect Dropbox to many other applications such as GoodNotes on the iPad
Droppages is a web hosting service that uses Dropbox to host files for a simple website interface. It offers three themes (or templates) for website layout. This is an easy way for teachers to create a stylish and customizable website for their classes using content they already have in Dropbox.
DropboxPortableAHK is an application that allows you to keep your Dropbox on a USB drive. This application will allow you to have your Dropbox and all its files synced onto a USB drive. Even when you are using a public computer somewhere you will have access to all your files like it is your own desktop.
Dropittome is a web-based application (app) and free service that connects to your Dropbox account and allows Dropbox users to provide anyone with a way to submit files directly to their Dropbox. This could be a good way for students to submit assignments. Once the files are submitted, there is no way for the students to then access them and edit them.
[https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/dropvox/id416288287?mt=8 Dropvox] is a paid iPhone app ($1.99) that allows you to record audio recordings on your iPhone that will be sent directly to your Dropbox in M4A format.
GimmeBar is free bookamarking tool that allows users to download videos, images, links, etc. and users are able to automatically back everything (except for the videos) up to their Dropbox accounts. This is a great tool for teachers searching for resources that they will want to access at a different time and from a different place.
JotForm is an application that allows you to create forms and have the results sent directly to your Dropbox. Teachers may want to use this to create a quick review quiz or class survey. The website offers hundreds of pre-made templates for education.
[Connections to 21st Century Learning Skills]
The Partnerships for 21st Century Skills presents a framework in which subject area learning should go alongside life and career skills; learning and innovation skills; and information, media, and technology skills. While Dropbox may not have been designed specifically as an educational tool, it fits within the framework as an important application for educators and students alike. The skills that can be learned by incorporating tools that are used in the professional world will help our students to think about new ways of sharing and creating content. When educators start to incorporate applications such as Dropbox in their daily practice and students see the benefits, an environment where 21st century learning and skills are developed becomes the norm.