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In this new series, author and educator Aaron Quigley shows you how to stay up to date with the latest educational technology and classroom management techniques. Each week, he'll introduce you to a new tip you can use to be more efficient, and increase student achievement. Aaron covers concepts like the flipped classroom, Common Core Standards, and the role of social media in education. The series also covers a variety of productivity apps, learning management systems, and other technologies, using a project-based approach that simulates the real K–12 or university classroom environment. Check back often for new tutorials, every Monday with Teacher Tips.
Hi, I'm Aaron Quigley and welcome to another edition of Teacher Tips. This week we're going to look at Dropbox and how we can use this online file storage system to create collaborative planning and sharing of documents among our colleagues. Here I've navigated to Dropbox in my web browser. I've already created an account, so I'm just going to Sign In. If this is your first time using Dropbox, you can simply click on create an account. Follow through the prompts, and Dropbox will do everything you need to get it properly installed on your computer. As well as create your account in the system. I'm going to go ahead and sign into my account, using my email address and password, and click the Sign In button.
Now that I'm logged into Dropbox, I can see a very basic setup. Here I have the ability to upload documents to the Dropbox server. I can also create new folders and organize these documents. But the real power of Dropbox comes in the ability to share these folders and share these documents. The way Dropbox works, and if all you want to do is have the ability to upload documents to web browser and view them and share them. You can simply use a web browser every single time you want to interact with Dropbox. However, Dropbox is automatically installed on my computer. The ability to use Dropbox without ever having to open a web browser.
Here in my Mac, I can see in the upper right hand icons, that a small Dropbox icon is there. This Dropbox icon allows me to quickly access all of the folders that are inside my Dropbox. Furthermore, I can also go into Settings and I can actually manage all of my Dropbox preferences, directly from my computer without ever having to login to the Dropbox website. I can also open up the Dropbox folder that's been created on my local system. This folder acts just like any other file folder on your computer. I can drag files into it, I can open documents from it. I can even work inside of this folder, when I'm not connected to the Internet.
However, the minute I do have Internet connection, Dropbox is going to take anything I've placed in this folder. And it's going to automatically sync it up, to the Dropbox website. Once my data is synced to the Dropbox website, I then have the ability to share that data with anyone else. If someone else has a Dropbox account, and we are sharing a folder, then that folder will automatically be downloaded and synced to their computer as well. If I then go in and make a change to a file, it'll not only be synced up to my computer and my online Dropbox. But that change will also show up for someone else's account, in someone else's Dropbox.
As educators, we can use the power of Dropbox to create collaborative planning folders. The way this works it either through our online computer Dropbox or through the Dropbox website. I can create Dropbox folders, such as lesson plans or phone log. I can even create online calendars or forms. On my local teaching computer, Dropbox is going to go ahead and sync up those files. Any changes that I make on my local computer will automatically be synced up to the Dropbox folder, which is stored on the Dropbox servers. I can then take one of those folders and I can choose to add additional teachers that have access to them.
Now please remember these teachers will have the ability to not only download that information, but also change those files, re-save them. So that we can now work collaboratively on projects. That teacher can add additional teachers. Or even I can add additional teachers. You can have an unlimited number of users all interacting with the same folders. And all able to download, make changes and re-save all of those documents. Furthermore, not everyone has to have complete access. Let's say that teacher two and teacher four, would like to share just a forms folder.
Well these teachers could choose to share a folder, outside of the rest of the group. Inside your Dropbox you can have a variety of folders, with a variety of sharing options. Here in my Dropbox home page, I'm going to go ahead and set up a lesson planning sharing system. This is going to allow me to use other educators at my school for collaborative planning. We're going to create a variety of folders to organize lesson plans into, so that we can work on a thematic unit within our teaching team. To do that I'm going to first click on the create New Folder icon. I'm going to call this first folder Planning Ideas.
Clicking outside the folder will automatically create and name that folder for me. At this point what I can do with the folder highlighted, is I can invite others to this folder. I'm going to go ahead and type in a few teachers, that I would like to invite. Once you have a teacher typed in you can simply press the tab key on your keyboard, it'll automatically enter that email address and allow you to type in a new teacher. So there I have two teachers added, I can simply click Share Folder. Each one of these teachers will receive an email asking them to join the shared folder. If the teacher does not have Dropbox already set up, they can click on the link, and Dropbox will walk them through the process of setting up their free account.
As well as installing it on their computer. Now the other way we can do this, is by also creating folders directly on our computer. So for my lesson planning folder, I'm going to go ahead and do that inside of Dropbox, on my local computer. To do that, I'll click on the Dropbox icon in the upper right hand navigation. Here I'm just open up the Dropbox Folder. You can already see that Planning Ideas has been synced to my local computer. And I'm going to go ahead and just create a New Folder here. And we'll call this one Lesson Plans. I'll click outside the folder. And you noticed very quickly the Dropbox created a small circular icon to show me that it was updating to the website.
Now that it's updated I have a check-mark, which means that the information that's on my local computer is now 100% synced online. I can see that by going back to my web browser. Here I have Lesson Plans already set up. I can click on Lesson Plans and I see that this folder is empty. However let's say that someone else decides to add content to this. I have Dropbox open on another computer and I'm going to go ahead and upload a file. You notice in the upper right hand corner that my system has told me that a file has been added. I can also choose to go in and refresh my web browser. And I can now see that Lesson Plans have been added to my regular Dropbox folder.
In order to organize this, I can simply click on it, drag it down to the folder where I'd like it, and release it. You'll notice automatically, my system tells me that there's been a file changed. And it's moved that file into the appropriate folder. So Dropbox allows you to quickly share documents. You can share information. You can even create a system where people can go in, add their own information to a document and click the Save button. A few words of caution, however. Please make sure you properly train everyone that's on your Dropbox folder. For example, I'll go ahead and open up my Dropbox folder on my local computer. Let's say I don't want this Getting Started file anymore.
I can go ahead and click it, I can choose my right-click and Move to Trash. By doing this, however, it's no longer available on the Dropbox servers. Which means, if any other teacher was sharing that file with me, then that teacher would see it deleted not only from the Dropbox server, but also from their local computer. Let's say a teacher would really like to have a copy of all the Lesson Plans on their local computer. So they just click the Lesson Plan folder and they drag it to somewhere on their computer. Well what's going to happen is that's actually going to move all of the Lesson Plans outside of Dropbox.
Which means that other people sharing that folder will no longer have access to that information. When you're training teachers to use Dropbox. Please remind them that it's best to make copies. So they'd want to right-click, and choose Copy Lesson Plans. And then they can paste the Lesson Plans folder somewhere else on their computer. Another thing that happens, is, if two teachers have the same document open at the same time, and both of them make changes. You might also end up with conflicted copies. You'll actually see a new copy appear that would say, lesson plan.
It would have an opening bracket and say conflicted copy and then the name of the person who has the conflicting copy on their system. If you see a conflicted copy appear. Simply go in take a look at both files, figure out which one's the most accurate one. You can rename it and then delete the other one. At this point we've talked about how Dropbox can be a great tool for sharing information across our building. In my own school teaching teams use Dropbox for collaborative planning. And we also have a school wide Dropbox folder that allows us to quickly share information among educators. Such as the forms that we most commonly use including office referral forms and hall pass forms.
Now that we've set up Dropbox. The next step is to look at how to access Dropbox in variety of places?
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