It’s becoming increasingly common for computer users to have important files living on multiple PCs. The challenge is keeping these files synced across various systems—without the need to e-mail anything to yourself or carry a USB drive. That’s where Dropbox comes in. This cloud-based service’s cross-platform compatibility, file versioning, and a free iPhone app make it one of the most well-rounded syncing solutions available.
Dropbox offers users an online backup service, free file syncing, and the ability to share your files with others. It will allow you to access your stored files on a Mac, PC, and Linux computer, or on the go with a mobile app for the iPhone, iPad and Android devices. Changes to your files are backed up online, and can be accessed from any computer with internet access. The whole process is automated, works in the background, and won’t slow down your computer.
How does it work?
After you sign up for a Dropbox account, you download a special folder to any computer or portable device that you work with. Let’s say at school you have a Dropbox folder on a Mac, and at home you have one on your PC. Anything you put into your Dropbox folder is automatically backed up to your online archive, and synced to your other Dropbox folders on other devices.
Advantages for Teachers
1. It’s free: All educators like free tools, and the basic Dropbox account is exactly that. You get 2Gb of free storage to sync, store and share your favourite files. Unless you deal with a lot of large video files on a regular basis, this is a generous storage amount that will likely cover most teacher’s needs. If the majority of your files are text based you will need literally hundreds of files to reach that 2Gb limit.
2. It’s convenient: Once you get Dropbox and start to use it on a regular basis, you will quickly love how easy and convenient a system it is to use. Forget about emailing yourself files, buying expensive CDs/DVDs, or trying to find that elusive flash drive, because all you need to do with Dropbox is save your file. It will then be backed up and synced to all the devices you have a Dropbox folder on. You don’t have to tell it to do anything, run any programs, or schedule anything, as it works seamlessly in the background. Even if you are away from your Dropbox computers, you can still logon to your account online and access all the same files you have on your computer, download them, and use them as you see fit.
3. It saves you time: Dropbox can be your new backup solution. If your school computer crashes, and you lose all the files on it, you can download a new Dropbox folder, login to your account, and sit back and watch as your saved files download and assume their previous place on your restored hard drive. Everything will soon be just as it was before your computer crashed.
4. Share files: You can share files, or even folders, with other Dropbox users. So, if all the teachers in your school get Dropbox, you could, for instance, create a folder to share links to your favourite educational sites. Whenever one teacher adds a new link, it will be available for everyone to view. You can also share a link to one of your files by sending teachers a link to download it directly from your own Dropbox. That way, you don’t have to clog up someone’s email with large files that take a while to send and receive.
5. Use it with students: Students who have Dropbox accounts can enjoy all the benefits listed above for teachers. However, they could also use it to submit assignments. Once they finish an assignment, they can share the file with you by sending you a link. The teacher can then read the file, highlight and leave comments on it, and save the annotations for the student to read later.
7. Use the Mobile apps: Dropbox can be used on the iPhone, the iPad, and on Android devices. Simply download the relevant app, and have access to your files wherever you are. It is a great example of mobile learning. All popular file types can be displayed on these devices when you download the Dropbox mobile app.
How to Get Dropbox
You can get Dropbox for your own computers and mobile devices by visiting dropbox.com and signing up for a new account. You need to enter an email address and a few basic details, but after that you can download your very own Dropbox folder to start backing up, sharing and syncing your files.
As stated above, the basic account is free, so you can try it out at no cost for as long as you want and additional storage can be paid for on a monthly subscription if required. This is a great tool for teachers to use, and one that will truly make your life as an educator easier on a day to day basis.