September 21, 2012

Sharing Documents in the Cloud

There are several services online that allow students and teachers to collaborate and share files easily online. Using Google Apps for Education is growing in popularity. Here in NJ, Princeton is one of the latest colleges and universities this fall using Google Apps. Google says that seven of the eight Ivy League universities and 72 of this year’s top 100 U.S. Universities (as determined by 2013 U.S. News and World Report’s ranking) are using them.

Students and teachers can collaborate in and out of the classroom using files shared in the cloud. And anyone can take advantage of having files available from any location of device. No more moving files via flashdrives or by email and matching old and new copies.

Using Google Apps across campus involves getting your IT department involved and that may not be easy at your school. There are other services that you can set up on your own. For example, one easy and free service is You install a small program on any computers you use (home, work etc.) and you will have your files when you need it them and they will automatically sync so that the newest version is available to you on all the devices. You can also access the files on any device without installing the app at the Dropbox site.

This is a great way to collaborate on a document with others because you can share files with other dropbox users. It's also a service I recommend to friends because it is an easy way to have your files backed up with the cloud copy. If your laptop crashed, all the dropbox folders would still be safe on their servers. You can sign up for the service for free.

But Google Apps does offer more than just file storage in the cloud. Faculty can offer "office hours" and small group presentations using "Hangouts." Students can create e-portfolios in a Google Site; And with document sharing, you can give real-time feedback in a Google document and have students work on group projects virtually.

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