By Jennifer Carey

Dropbox is many things — a powerful, multifaceted tool that can be used in a number of different ways. But the short and sweet of it is this: you can use it to store and sync documents and files across computers, tablets, and smart phones.

You can write a lecture or lesson plan on your computer at home, put it in your Dropbox folder, and whoosh – it’s synced with your work computer. You can open files, make changes, which are then automatically synced with your home computer. It’s seamless, fast and free.

You can manage your own material and make it more readily accessible. By keeping lectures and other school materials on Dropbox, you always have access to the most recent changes. And many applications that you likely use (Evernote, Things, 1Password, Elements, to name a few) have a Dropbox sync option. Check your favorite applications to see if they have a “save to Dropbox” feature. Since Dropbox works across platforms and devices, you can use a Mac at home, a PC at work, a Blackberry phone and an iPad, and you will have access to your documents on *all* of them (there are also Dropbox apps for iPhone, Android and Linux).

USING DROPBOX WITH STUDENTS

Dropbox can also be a great teaching/learning tool. You can use it to store copies of hand-outs, distribute presentations, and as a way for students to turn in homework assignments. It’s an easy electronic homework drop (compared to email) and will time stamp submissions.

Dropbox can also be a useful tool in managing student projects and presentations. Students can submit the visual components of class presentations, and it’s easy for educators to determine whether students have completed a particular portion of a project or presentation assignment. Best of all, since all presentations are “turned in” to same same virtual place, every student can access his or her presentation via one log-in (a huge time saver when you’re trying to get through many presentations in a single 50-minute class).

Students can use Dropbox on their phones to review handouts (rather than a print-out, ultimately saving paper). And, like you, they can sync their files across multiple computers outside of school.

This isn’t a program you will have to teach your students to use. Don’t be surprised if in a few weeks, they’re showing you some tricks you haven’t even considered.

Dropbox is more of a mega-utility than a simple tool. It begs you to think up new ways to use it, in and out of the classroom. If you download a free copy of Dropbox via this link, you’ll get an extra 250mb of storage space for free. Install it on your computers and any other compatible devices. Play with it and see what it has to offer!

A version of this post originally appeared on Voices from the Learning Revolution.

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