Category Archives: Admins in the Cloud

Administrators in the Cloud: Volume 1 Dropbox – Part 2

Dropbox Public Folder

In this installment of Administrators in the Cloud, I’ll be focusing on Dropbox’s Public folder.  Dropbox’s Public folder provides administrators the ability to share files effectively,  efficiently, and at no cost by getting their files into the cloud.

Overview of The Public Folder

When you install Dropbox on your device, you’ll noticed that one of the default folders is named Public.  Files you want to share with your staff, or colleagues, can be kept in your Public folder.  All files stored there have a public link that can e-mailed, tweeted, blogged, or posted on a webpage Anyone who has that link can access your file from anywhere in the world.  Keep in mind that this folder is public and there is no way to restrict access to particular users, so be sure not to use this folder for documents that contain any sort of sensitive or private content.  The Public folder provides public READ-ONLY access to your documents.  You are still the only person who can create, edit, and delete files in this folder.  Below is a quick list of some key features / functionality of Dropbox’s public folder.

  • nested folders: You can neatly organize your public documents into sub-folders within the Public folder.
  • public links:  Each and every file within the Public folder, or any of its subfolders, has a public link.  The public link is simply the URL you can share via an e-mail, tweet, blog post, or webpage.  For instructions on how to get your document’s public link, check out this help page on the Dropbox website.
  • individual file sharing:  By design, the Dropbox Public folder only allows access to individual files.  There are no public folder links, only links to individual files.

Administrators’ Public Folders

The Dropbox Public folder isn’t going to solve all you file sharing or document distribution needs.  However, there are three clear benefits for school employees, all of which I use frequently and have outlined below.

Memos:  We often have to send out e-mails to our staff with a memo or document attached.  One con of the attachment approach to document sharing is, you are actually sending a copy of the file to every single recipient.  So, if your sending the e-mail to 200 people, that means 200 copies of the same exact file that are now sitting on your mail server.  Most attachments are small in size, so this isn’t necessarily a problem.  However, if you are sending a flyer for a fundraiser or a school event that contains pictures, this duplication can cause unnecessary stress on your servers.  If you were to place that document in your Dropbox Public folder, then you’d simply be e-mailing your staff a link to the document and everyone would be accessing the same document with the same ease of opening an attachment.

Along that line, have you ever e-mailed a document to your staff or students, only to realize there was a typo.  In the attachment method of sharing, you’re now resending the e-mail, which makes another 200 copies of that file on your mail server.  If you use the Dropbox Public Folder to share that file, you simply edit the file in the public folder and voila…  The same link you sent out will now take your staff to the updated and corrected document.  The Public folder is great for documents that may be fluid and for documents the staff might need to access multiple times.

Guidelines / Tutorials:  Schools often have network folders that contain tutorials, acceptable use policies, teacher handbooks, etc.  The downside of most network folders is that they are only accessible when you are within the walls of the school.  If you turn your Public folder into a Staff Resource folder by simply placing all those required documents inside your Dropbox Public folder and teachers will now be able to access those documents from anywhere in the world.

Bloggers and Tweeters:  Administrative bloggers and tweeters are often sharing forms and other documents with parents.  When you attach a file to a blog post or to a tweet, you’ve got to go through the upload file process, which again is creating a duplicate of your original document.  Instead you can put that document in your Dropbox Public folder and simply link to that file from your blog or tweet, in the form of a clickable hyperlink.  Again, the beauty of this method is that if you need to modify the document, your not going through the upload process again.  Just edit the doc in the Public folder and you’re good to go.

 

I’d love to hear how others out there are utilizing the Dropbox Public folder.  Please share you usage with a comment…

 

Administrators in the Cloud: Volume 1 Dropbox — Part 1

The Cloud

(Photo Credit: Shutterstock)


Series Overview

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.