Welcome to the inaugural post of my Administrators in the Cloud blog series. In this series I will focus on how administrators can utilize various cloud computing applications to improve their productivity, while fostering a collaborative environment within their building or across a district. Including educational technology does just apply to the classroom, but instead educational technology tools can be utilized in our main offices as well. I strongly believee effective leaders practice what they preach. Talking to teachers about the importance of paperless classrooms, utilization of educational technology, and developing student centered classrooms isn’t enough. I think the phrase I despise the most is, “this is the way we’ve always done it.” It bugs me simply because, if something works doesn’t mean it can’t be improved. Today’s administrators should be leading by example and should be finding ways to streamline procedures by using web based, dynamic, and scalable applications.
An Introduction to Dropbox
Dropbox in the simplest sense is nothing more than a folder on your computer. Well, I guess it’s more like a folder with magical powers, but to the average user it acts and looks just like a normal folder. What makes Dropbox magical is that the files you put in the Dropbox folder are implicitly synced to the cloud. I’ll explain more about that in a minute. After running a simple install program a folder is created for you named “Dropbox.” Inside your Dropbox folder, you can create a hierarchy of folders and fill them with documents the same way you would in a “My Documents” folder on a harddrive, on an external USB drive, or on a network share.
What makes Dropbox magical is that it implicitly syncs all your files to the cloud. This means that when you save a document, not only is the document saved physically on your computer it is also copied via the web to your secure account on the Dropbox server. It is also copied to any other computer you have installed Dropbox on. Example time! You’re at work and save a file to your Dropbox folder. You head home and head directly into your home office and turn on your home computer. Guess what… The file you made at work is waiting for you on your home PC. Let’s say it’s a letter of recommendation and your going to make some final edits at home. When you save the editted doc on the home PC, those changes are automatically copied to the Dropbox servers and back to your work PC. If you have an iPad, Andriod Tablet, or Smartphone you can install the Dropbox app and access that letter of recommendation on the subway if need be.
Ok, so I’m going to stop here. I wanted to provide you with an introductory taste. That way, I can spend time in future posts fully explaining particular features and providing you with some concrete exmaples of how Dropbox is going to make you a better administrator and maybe a better person.