It’s Independence Day in the USA and I can’t think of a better Web 2.0 tool to celebrate freedom than Dropbox! Freedom from multiple file versions! Freedom from thumb drives! Freedom from disorganization! Dropbox is an online storage and file sharing application that can help simplify your life is so many ways and give you the freedom to maximize your productivity on the computer, especially when sharing files with others.
This brief introductory video will explain the basics:
Start by creating a Dropbox (cloud-based) account at www.dropbox.com. It’s free and you receive 2 GB of storage just by joining. Be sure to also install the Dropbox Desktop Application. Any files you drag into the desktop application will be automatically synced with your cloud-based Dropbox account. If you install the app on any other device (iPad, your laptop, your iPhone, etc.), all your files will be accessible to you from any of those devices, too.
Once you have your folders and files in order in Dropbox, you can invite others to share the folders. For every person you invite and who installs Dropbox themselves, you will receive extra free storage.
If you work in committees, Dropbox allows all the committee members to share the same central document, spreadsheet or PowerPoint presentation without having to email the files back and forth. If you need to send large movie or photo files to others and want to bypass the hassle of being bounced back by the email server because the attachment is too big, Dropbox can help. Large files take a few minutes to load, but then are readily available to others who share the folder in which they reside. Can’t find the minutes from the last church committee meeting? Put them in Dropbox and they will be there when you need them, accessible from any computer with Internet access.
Dropbox accepts nearly every type of file format and no formatting changes are made to your files when they are in Dropbox: a Word document remains a Word document; an Excel spreadsheet remains an Excel Spreadsheet.
Finally, Dropbox is not ad suported as many Web 2.0 tools are. They have such a great product, and the Dropbox creators hope people who find it useful will upgrade to a paid account. However, 2 GB of storage is plenty to play around with and give you a feel for whether Dropbox can solve your storage and collaboration needs before you need to make that decision.
Here’s what a teacher says about Dropbox:
“Our students are either in the computer lab or using the netbook cart. They very rarely are able to get the same computer twice, so having access to “cloud computing” on school computers help immensely. Many of my students have lost flash drives or have had them go bad due to wear and tear. Unfortunately, several students have lost research papers because of their device or operator error. Drop Box will allow them to open their work regardless of which computer they have been assigned to use. Also, if they forget or lose their flash drive (today’s equivalent to the dog ate my homework), they will still have access to their work and be able to turn it in.” (Jeannie J.) http://teachweb2.wikispaces.com/Dropbox
Whether you use Dropbox with students, parish committee members, or for your own personal use, it’s a great tool and one that every catechist and parish minister should have in their personal technology toolbox! If you use Dropbox, tell us how you find it helpful by adding a comment to this blog post.