As many of you know I have a school leadership newsletter that can be accessed by clicking here. It shares tips on a variety of topics from PLCs to data analysis to action research. One of my editions includes the use of Dropbox.com in schools. Because I received a slew responses on its usefulness, I thought it would be appropriate to share in my blog as well.
Dropbox can be a tremendous tool for schools. It has been, without doubt, a great help in my own school. Not only do I use Dropbox for my day-to-day dealings, but it has also given classroom teachers a vehicle to collaborate in a unique manner.
What is Dropbox?
Dropbox.com is a free software tool that allows you to sync your files online and across multiple computers automatically. It also has capabilities for sharing files and folders with multiple users, allowing several people to work collaboratively on the same files.
How can you use it in your school?
There are several ways schools can use Dropbox.com in a school. Here are a few examples.
Most of us have multiple computers that we work with from work desktops to home desktops to laptops…and more. It can get a little bit cumbersome carrying flash drives around everywhere, or emailing documents back and forth to yourself. Many files, when using this method, can get lost in the shuffle. Dropbox helps keep all your files located in one central location and can be accessed from any computer with a download of the software. Because all the files are stored on the Dropbox server, the cloud so to speak, you will never lose files if one of your computers is lost, stolen, or damaged.
Here is a scenario where, after the fact, one teacher kicked herself for not using Dropbox. This particular teacher was charged with the development of the school’s yearbook. Every single one of the yearbook pictures were actually only saved on one of the school computer hard drives. We are talking about thousands of pictures. Then one weekend the school was broken into and this exact computer was stolen, along with the hundreds of hours that accompanied the slew of snapshots of various school events. It was devastating! If the pictures, on the other hand, were saved within Dropbox then the damage would be minimal. Although this is an extreme example, we all have stories of losing important files.
Let’s say for example Teacher A and Teacher B are creating an assessment that will be given to each of their students. Of course, they each want to try their own distinct strategies and come together in the end to see which strategy, based on the results, was most effective. Teacher A can start the assessment within a Dropbox shared folder and then Teacher B can revise the assessment within that same folder. This process can go back and forth until the document is sound. Perhaps Teacher A and Teacher B do not necessarily teach within the same school; maybe they don’t even teach in the same state. Not only can they access the document in real time, but these documents can also be stored in the shared folder and accessed at any time. There are a myriad of ways in which classroom teachers can use Dropbox.