Dropbox is known as one of the top cloud storage providers and one of the best file sharing tools as well. You may not think of Dropbox as a classroom tool but it has many uses for teachers and other educators. Currently, Dropbox is such a powerful tool that the boundary of its uses are yet unknown- new uses are found on a constant basis.
Dropbox works on devices such as PC and Mac computers and laptops, iOS, Android and other smartphones and tablets, so it can be used by all students and teachers no matter what device they use. If homework is needed, it’s simple to use Dropbox to send out work to students after school hours. Students can also upload their work to Dropbox so the teacher can grade it immediately instead of waiting until school hours.
I know teachers use a variety of programs and apps in their lessons so is compatibility an issue? Not necessarily. Some apps already have the option to sync with Dropbox and many others, such as Evernote, Google Drive, Box, Basecamp, SugarSync, and SkyDrive, can be synced by using a cloud service like cloudHQ that is specifically designed to create sync between various cloud providers. Please see the information at the bottom of this article for instructions on how to use cloudHQ.
Dropbox for teachers
PowerPoint presentations are a standard part of most classrooms and if you use a lot of images, these presentations can suddenly take up a lot of space. Now you want to share these presentations but they are too big for email and sending them by USB drive is not efficient. Dropbox is the answer as it allows you to have a shared folder on each computer or device that it is installed on. The teacher simply has to drag and drop the presentation to the Dropbox folder and it is instantly replicated to Dropbox folders on all computers and devices that the teacher has allowed. So students can simply open it immediately in their laptops, tablets, or other devices. There is no waiting (other than a minute or so for the file to upload), files are encrypted for security and Dropbox has added security measures such as two-factor authentication.
Dropbox can also be used by the teacher to store extra copies of handout sheets. This way, if a student misses a day of school, loses their sheet (or if the dog eats it), they can simply download another copy from Dropbox at any time, even if it’s not regular school hours.
It’s the perfect solution for students to turn in homework as multiple folders can be created for different assignments and all documents are time-stamped.
How to use Dropbox in the classroom
The first step is to download and install Dropbox: https://www.dropbox.com/install. Then you can create a folder (with subfolders for organization) that you wish to share with the students. Not all folders have to be shared, you can specify which folders you wish to share. That way you can keep some files private while sharing the files that students need to accomplish their work. You can name your shared folder anything, for now let’s say you create a folder and name it “American History.”
Next you need to invite all the students to share the folder. Right click on the folder and then click “Share this folder,” or you can invite from the Dropbox website, whichever you prefer. Simply input all the students’ email addresses and this will send them invites to the folder. If they aren’t currently Dropbox members, it will send them an invite to join Dropbox using your link, which will give both of you an extra 500MB of storage space free.
Once the students have accepted your invitation, they will have access to the shared folder and any files that are in the folder. Subfolders can be created so students can organize work into separate folders.
Students catch on fast
In classrooms where teachers have used Dropbox with their students, the students have caught on to Dropbox extremely fast- mainly because it integrates with Windows and there’s not much difference in using it than using any other Windows folder. Except that this folder can share files between students and teacher. The students even found new tricks and uses for Dropbox.
Dropbox does not allow read-only folders but cloudHQ can help
Unfortunately, Dropbox does not have a feature that allows files to be read-only, so this could potentially create a problem if students accidentally (or intentionally :)) decide to delete or modify some of the files that the teacher shares with them. This can be easily remedied by using cloudHQ to simulate read-only sharing of these files. This protects the files and documents and ensures that they stay in their original condition.
Backup everything to Dropbox with cloudHQ
If you have multiple cloud accounts (such as Evernote, Google Docs), cloudHQ can also easily consolidate all your cloud data to Dropbox. So you have a centralized storage which will retain and archive all your files. It’s simple to accomplish this using cloudHQ to create a cloud data consolidate process.
Dropbox can be the perfect teaching tool, and when used in conjunction with cloudHQ, this use can be expanded even further.