1/24/2012

An online place for everything

Teachers have a lot of stuff. Never mind all of the posters and popsicle sticks we reuse year after year. I'm thinking more about what we have electronically. From lesson plans to movie clips, there's an awful lot of valuable material on our computers. Should that computer get lost or damaged, all of those wonderful resources will disappear. There is a safe place to keep it all though- or rather safe places. Not every service is right for everyone. You have a lot of material in a lot of different forms so its important to chose your storage service carefully. I want to talk about a few of those services. Full disclosure here- I am a cheap skate so I only use free services.

Google:
Google docs- We cannot have a discussion about cloud storage without bringing up Google Docs. This is a powerhouse of document storage. Anything you have created in Word can be converted to Google Docs format. As long as your files are converted to Google's format, your storage is unlimited and files can be edited and shared online. You can also store a finite number of all other types of files in your account to share and download.

Two other Google services that allow you to store a limited number of files are Gmail and Google sites. With Gmail, you need to attach a file to an email and save it as a draft. Google sites lets you upload files of a limited size as well and store them in a "file cabinate". While this would be a little awkward, it does provide an alternative place to store your materials.

Microsoft Office live: Formatting is typically lost whenever a word document is changed into a Google document. If you are looking to store, share and edit a Microsoft document, presentation or spreadsheet online, this is the way to go. You will maintain all of your original formatting and you can feel safe knowing your document is stored in the cloud. You will also be able to edit a document with your coworkers online.

Zoho: This is another one of Google's competitors. You can store a gigabyte of data here and work with coworkers and collaborators on Zoho friendly documents. One thing that this site does that no other site can do (or will do) are databases. If you need a free program that will work across platforms, try Zoho's database option.

Dropbox: This is a service that is designed to save important files online. A Dropbox folder is placed on your computer. Any file saved in this folder is then copied to the internet. If you need to access the file from elsewhere, just open the Dropbox and grab your file. No worries. It works well and is reliable. You can also share files with whomever you wish.

CX: Nearly identical to Dropbox, it makes file sharing with colleagues a little easier.

Edmodo: This online social service is often overlooked. While it has been primarily designed as a way to keep in contact with students and parents, it also works as a way to store small files. You can upload any file (up to 100 megabytes in size) to your Library. Once those files are there, they can be downloaded by anyone you choose- parent, teacher or student. You can also choose to keep these files private.

Google voice: Teachers need to keep track of who they call and when. Calling logs are great, but they have an inherent weakness. They assume that the person filling them out is honest. Google voice allows you to call parents from you computer for free. It records the time you called (or when the parent called you) and stores that information online. There is also a place for notes. You can keep an accurate record of all parent phone calls for years with this service.

Youtube: If you have video clips, youtube is a good place to keep them. You'll be able to keep them 100% private or you can choose to share with fellow teachers or students. If you decide to download them afterward, simply go to "My Videos", click on one of your movies, and download it.


These are just the services I've grown to love. If you have other online storage ideas, please share!