Dropbox for Teachers

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Dropbox is a free online storage service that makes it easy to synchronize and share files anywhere. And it will change your workflow as a teacher.

1. Synchronize

Any file you save to Dropbox is automatically synchronized to all your devices–your home computer, your work computer, your phone, and online at dropbox.com. Once you download Dropbox on a device, it syncs with every other device you own. Since it’s saved online, files are backed up automatically. William Chamberlain put it simply put,

What I really love about Dropbox is how I can share files between home and school. That is the real win for me.

So, if I add an mp3 to Dropbox from my work laptop, I now have on my iPad, iPhone, and home laptop. No more emailing myself files. No more flash drives. No more syncing my iPhone just to get one song on it. Stoked. [tutorial]

2. Share

There are two built-in ways to share files in Dropbox: the Public folder and Shared folders. When you install Dropbox, a folder called Public is automatically created. When you place a file into the Public folder, you can right-click to get a link to it. This means that you can send people links to specific files in your Dropbox Public folder.

Any folder in Dropbox can be shared. Right-click on a folder, and select Share This Folder. When you save a file in a shared folder, it’s as if you saved it straight to their computers. This is an easy way for students to submit work (especially in higher ed). [Tutorial]

There are plenty of third-party apps that leverage Dropbox. Let’s look at the greatest hits.

Drop It To Me lets you securely receive files from anyone. They type in your URL (like http://www.dropitto.me/billselak), and upload a file that gets saved to your Dropbox account. [Tutorial]

Send to Dropbox lets you email files to Dropbox. You are given a unique email address when you sign up (like bill_****d@sendtodropbox.com). When you send an email to that address with an attachment, it is automatically saved to your Dropbox account.

DropVox is a $2 iOS app that lets you record audio straight to your Dropbox. You record, and it is saved in Dropbox.

ifttt (If This, Than That) is a website that automatically does stuff based on a trigger. For example, every time you are tagged in a photo on Facebook, it can save that photo to Dropbox. ifttt has several recipes that use Dropbox. It can convert and send books from Dropbox to your Kindle. It can automatically save all your Instagram photos photos to Dropbox. It can automatically upload  photos from Dropbox to flickr. It can even dictate voicemails and save the transcription in Dropbox.

3. Dropbox in Education

Here are some ways that teachers use Dropbox in the classroom.

  • Share files with your grade level team. The file in Dropbox is always the latest version.
  • Students submit work from iPads with Send to Dropbox.
  • Students take notes on iPads with Noteshelf ($6). Notes are automatically saved to Dropbox.
  • Share a folder with each student. They submit work, you share the graded rubrics, and no other students see it.
  • Drag a song from iTunes to Dropbox on your laptop. Open Dropbox on your iPhone, and play the song without syncing.
  • Install Dropbox on every computer in your lab. You add a file once, and it’s on every other computer.
  • Keep lesson plans organized in Dropbox. Use an iPhone instead of a laptop to show a photo or play a song.

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