If students are going to use iPads in the classroom then learning about cloud storage is an inevitability. That being said, most teachers are also going to need training on this topic. I would even recommend a professional development training just to get teachers familiar with it. By no means do I mean to imply that it is difficult to use – it is quite the opposite actually. A quick description of cloud storage is that you can upload your files (documents, pictures, etc.) to a server and be able to access them later through multiple devices such as a home computer, smartphone, iPad, laptop, or other computing devices. So if you’re typing a word document on your work computer, you can save it to your cloud storage (such as Dropbox) and you will be able to immediately access it from one of your other devices such as your come computer, iPad, or home computer. No longer will you need to keep emailing yourself your resume every time you make an edit. Here is a video that really breaks it down.
There are a number of cloud services to choose from. Here I will discuss Dropbox simply because it is free, accessible on almost all devices, easy to use, and is the most popular cloud service. Before I begin, I should also mention that Apple makes a big deal about its iCloud service so if you are wondering why not just use that it is because iCloud is only for files that are related to Apple programs such as iWork, Pages, Keynote, etc. and is only accessible on Apple devices. Dropbox will work with any file type and you will be able to work on them through any device – Windows or Apple computers, iPads, iPhones, Android phones and tablets, and Blackberries. Simply install Dropbox through the App Store and on any or all of your computers (work and home) by going to their website and downloading the install file – http://www.dropbox.com. Once they are installed on all your devices create an account on one of them and log into it on all your other devices. Then you can just start uploading your files from any device and now you will be able to access them through all of your devices =) Even if you use a public computer you don’t even need to have the Dropbox application installed. You can still access your files by just using the browser to go to www.dropbox.com and you can download your files from there. Saving files to your Dropbox from your computer is just as natural as saving any other file. Just hit ‘Save As…’ and there will be a Dropbox folder in your directory.
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To save photos and videos from your iPad, open the app and just hit the Dropbox icon on the top left and you will see the ‘Uploads’ icon. Since Dropbox is the most popular cloud service there are plenty of apps for the iPad that allow you to save files right from within the application. So if a student is taking hand-written notes during his U.S. History class on Noteshelf (a handwriting note-taking app I will review soon), all he has to do to save it to his Dropbox is hit the share icon and the option to upload to Dropbox is right there. Each new account allows for 2GB for of free storage which is plenty for student use. (There are even simple opportunities for students to earn even more free space if they care to do so.)
If students are being provided iPads in the classroom they will most likely need to be able to access their files on home computers, computer labs, and even their own smartphones. Dropbox provides the perfect solution for this. Teachers will also find this as an asset. They should also take the time to teach their students how to use it so that it can be an effective tool for their classes throughout the year.