Tuesday Tech Tidbits--4/8/14

A quick look at great technology to make your life easier

I love the convenience of using Google docs and having my documents available at home and at work. What if there were a program that would let you know access to EVERYTHING (pictures, videos, documents and more)...

It's your lucky day! Introducing DROPBOX!

Downloading and setting up Dropbox for yourself

  1. Visit Dropbox.com.
  2. Start a free account (you get two gigs to start, but you can quickly increase that amount by suggesting Dropbox to your friends).
  3. Run the installer.
  4. Double-click on the Dropbox icon in the pop-up box.
  5. A Dropbox widget appears on the top of your laptop’s menu screen. You can create folders in your Dropbox, and simply drag and drop files into the widget to save them.
  6. Download the Dropbox app to your smartphone or tablet. Sign in with the same account and – presto – you can access your files.

Downloading and setting up Dropbox in the classroom

  1. Visit Dropbox.com.
  2. Sign in using the account you created, above.
  3. Create folders for each of your classes or subjects.
  4. Click on any folder in the Dropbox and “invite to folder” using students’ emails. Once you’ve invited everyone, the folder is “shared.” Everyone can add, edit, and delete content. However, Dropbox has a “save” for folders deleted accidentally – you, the Dropbox owner, can “show deleted files” and restore them. If you don’t want students to be able to edit the files, you can upload PDFs.
  5. Finally, encourage students to download the Dropbox app on their smartphones and tablets.

Integrating DropBox into the classroom

Now that you’ve got it all set up, this is where the fun begins. You can use Dropbox to:

1. Share assignments and readings.

Using Dropbox eliminates the need for you and your students to use external storage devices and easily share and collaborate on documents. This includes documents that are too large to send by email.

The great thing is that you can share the documents from “anywhere.” Some have been known to remember to send their class an assignment or article after school and – presto – off it goes from Dropbox and the comfort of an after school snack.

2. Backup important files.

Writer Julie Meloni says:
“If Blackboard or your Web-hosting provider goes down, where would your students turn? How long would it take you to recreate those systems? If your documents were also stored in a public folder in your (Dropbox) account, anyone could access them from any device (including mobile devices), and you would have a backup ready to transfer to another system.”In addition, Dropbox saves your files to your computer’s hard drive, so even if the worst-case scenario happens (the app gets hacked or goes away) you’ll always have them.

3. Collect homework.

Dropbox provides each file with a time stamp, so you can tell what date and time it was delivered.

4. Evaluate students’ homework and portfolios.

As mentioned earlier, teachers can create shared folders for each student, allowing them to submit private assignments and save collections of items, like portfolio pieces, without anyone but you and them seeing it. The teacher can open the assignments and make changes or comments.

5. Get students to have discussions and work collaboratively.

“Shared” and “public” folders allow you to get students to work in groups or publicly, as you require. You can also use Dropbox as a substitute for Google Docs and wikis: one student saves a document in the file folder, and another opens it and adds or amends content.

6. Be creative.

Teachers shouldn’t be limited by what they believe they can use this tool to do; by using it and being open to student suggestions, more uses will inevitably arise.

Questions? Need help?

Stop by the library or email me with questions. If you are totally lost, I would be happy to help you get started.