Dropbox or ...?
Types of Cloud Storage Services – 3 and 3 – Part 1
(In Part 2, I’ll return to talk about Drive, OneDrive and iCloud)
Box, Copy and Dropbox
This group of cloud services is simpler than the group I will cover in this two-part series, “Types of Cloud Storage Services.” Box, Copy and Dropbox provide some ancillary services, but their focus is in providing cloud storage and sharing. All install a folder directly on your computer which you can drag files into and out of in order to upload or download those files from the cloud. Sharing with these tools is simple: You put the file in the folder, share the file with those other [whatever the service is] users and set those other users’ permissions accordingly. Once a file is shared, whenever anyone updates and then saves over the original, he or she is doing so for everyone (great for student projects). Additionally, each of these services allows public links to the files/folders to be created, so that even people without a Box, Copy or Dropbox account can still view and download the file for which you provide access.
The distinctions between these first three apps come in the form of permissions, gradations of control over updates to files, and complexity. The spectrum runs from complex control, Box, to simple use, Dropbox, with Copy somewhere in between. Box targets corporate use, and so gives users a bunch of ways to control permissions over group and individual access to folders. For larger institutions tackling complex projects with separate groups who need hierarchically different levels of permissions, Box is real handy. For less complex uses, the granularity of control may be unnecessary or even onerous.
Most classroom uses are not complicated enough to merit the use of Box, but it deserves to be listed here anyway. It is a fantastic tool.
Dropbox and Copy both give users an ample number of permissions settings, providing plenty granularity of control over how students/colleagues/staff can access or modify files you share with them, with the added benefit that they’re extremely easy/intuitive to use. There are distinctions between Dropbox and Copy, mostly to do with Copy’s “Fair Storage” model (which is pretty awesome, it should be said), but they are close enough that choosing one comes down to personal preference.
Finally, it should be noted that I have accounts with each of these services–choosing one doesn’t mean tossing the rest. However, I do end up using Box for certain tasks, Dropbox for others, and Copy…well, I’ve only just gotten into Copy. So consider how you will be using the cloud, and that will help you to decide what you use.
Classroom uses of the Cloud
- Keeping track of all your materials–and student materials–no matter where you are or what computer your using
- Student portfolio building
- Student peer review of portfolios
- Small group collaboration on complex projects comprising large numbers of files and a diverse set of file types (images, videos, documents, PDFs, etc.)
- Resource gathering and sharing
- Exchanging files too large to be emailed