The term ‘cloud’ has come to mean something quite different than its origins as suspended water particles. ‘Clouds’, these days, “allow users to upload files that could then be accessed over the internet from a different computer, tablet, smart phone, or other networked device, by the same user or possibly by other users, after a password or other authentication is provided.” For example, using Dropbox, or another cloud website/app, you can access any file that you were to upload to this service. The cloud connects all of the devices that you are logged into, instantly creating an invisible link that allows you to access any of your content.
“Dropbox was founded in 2007 by Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi, two MIT students tired of emailing files to themselves to work from more than one computer.” It’s a great concept that has revolutionized that way we handle and share files. When setting up an account, you have the opportunity to gain more space for FREE. These opportunities include following them on twitter, telling friends, and connecting your facebook page, all of which are easy to do! Of course, you can pay for a more substantial amount of space, but, initially, when you’re learning how to use Dropbox, a few GBs of space is all you need. Upload your important files that you’d like to access anywhere and you’re off!
I’ve personally used Dropbox in many different aspects of my life. In college, I used Dropbox to upload important documents that I would be using for my classes (this included syllabi, term papers, study guides, etc.) so that I was able to access all of the files when I needed them. Whether it was at home on my desktop, out-and-about on my iPad, or even in the school’s computer lab, I was always able to find the content I needed. I could even share documents, such as homework outlines, with friends who needed them; I could send an email to a friend, through Dropbox, that would include the location of the document or file they were looking for. This came in handy when I had a particularly forgetful lab partner in one of my classes; with just a few clicks, she was back up to speed.
I’ve also used Dropbox in my personal life. I’m a hobby photographer and like to take photos of my family over the holidays, and such. Instead of mailing copies of the photos on a jump drive to my family in Kentucky, I need only upload them to Dropbox and share the folder they want. They can even view the pictures right in their browser before they download them to their computer, making downloading a specific file fast and easy. Even my 70-year-old grandmother has used Dropbox to access my pictures; it’s very easy to use!
You can use Dropbox in your classroom, too! Create a Dropbox account and, from there, create folders for each class or subject that you teach. For instance, are your students learning about World War I? Create a folder that includes all of your PowerPoint slides on specifics of the war and handouts, so that students have access to the content, even from home. Also, as the owner of the account, you can even see if files have been deleted and you can recover the files fast and easily. And why not have your students submit homework and papers to Dropbox, as well? It saves paper, and excuses, and makes your job easier… what could be better than that?
Dropbox is an amazing tool that can be utilized in countless ways. Use it to host your website, share photos, and collaborate with people across the country. Its uses are endless!