My next favorite tool that I use as a teacher and student is Dropbox. As a teacher, I have a laptop for school. As a grad school student, I have a laptop that actually works on which I also do a lot of work as a teacher for my classes. As a normal part of today's society, I also have an iPad and an iPhone. Because I travel from my classroom as a French teacher to my office as an ITS, and then again to and from school and my house, it used to be difficult to keep track of the latest versions of all my files. It was also a pain to get my files from one computer to another. I used to use a component of Windows called Briefcase that via a flashdrive would allow me to update just those files that had been updated. In the newer versions of Windows, however, that has gone away. Another downside was that you had to have a flashdrive that was big enough to hold all the files you have. And I have a LOT. Unfortunately, that required large and EXPENSIVE external hard drives. That would break, Which then cost $500+ to replace and recover the files.
The next step that I tried to manage my files was the product that replaced Briefcase called SyncToy. SyncToy was awesome. It works the same way as the Briefcase, but faster and less clunky. The problem is that you have to remember to run it. If you don't run it, it doesn't do it for you. And you have to run a newer version of Windows than my ancient school laptop has. When you don't run SyncToy, and the hard drive on your shiny new super-mega-foxy-awesome-hot personal laptop dies, you then lose all of your grad school files that have been created since the last time you ran SyncToy.
After that disaster happened, I knew that had to find a better solution. I had heard of Dropbox, but was turned off by the size limits. Did I mention that I have a LOT of files? However, faced with the reality of having lost major files twice, I decided that it would be worth it to invest a little in my future sanity. So I forked over $100 to buy 100 GB of cloud storage. I downloaded Dropbox to my personal laptop, my school laptop, and all of my mobile devices. Now, I can view any file no matter where I am (as long as I have Internet). On my laptops and my tablet, I can edit them. The best part: they update across the cloud automatically!
I can also create shared folders that allow multiple people to add elements to the folder as long as they have an account with Dropbox (which gives me more free space if they sign up because of me). As a teacher, I can also have students submit large project files to a shared folder if they won't fit into our online LMS. I can share pictures or videos with other teachers or administrators without using up email space. How many of you have used Dropbox and what are your recommended uses?
COMING UP NEXT TIME: Ideas for bookmarking for visual learners...