Cloud computing has become a catchphrase in technology today. Simply defined cloud computing involves saving your documents on remote servers over the Internet for access from any computer and for sharing and collaboration. Clearly, this is the future of computing, where most of our computers and smartphones for that matter will become dumb terminals which one will use to log into one's virtual operating system, applications, and documents. The advantages of this are obvious. Remote backup of all files, instant access on any computer, and the ability to work together with anyone from anywhere. This is the future of computing. With applications like Google Docs, SkyDrive, and Dropbox, the future is now.
My favorite is dropbox. This program is revolutionary in its simplicity. It gives you a shared folder that you can load on any computer, Mac or PC or even an IPhone, Android, or BlackBerry. You can save documents to this folder whether you are connected to the Internet or offline just like you would use any other folder. When your computer is connected to the Internet, this folder syncs automatically to an online folder and to every other dropbox folder that you have on every other computer. It even gives you a Public folder which you can use to share documents of any size with anyone by sending them a direct link. I use dropbox on MacBook Pro, my Dell PC, and on a computer on my school network and all documents sync flawlessly. The only limitation of dropbox is space. You get 2 GB of space for free. If others sign up for dropbox using your link, this space can grow to 8GB. You can pay for additional space at a nominal fee. Please click on the following link to sign up for dropbox and help me get more space on mine at the same time: Signup for Dropbox. By the way, if you sign up by referral you get 250MBs extra space too so it's a win-win.
What are some applications of dropbox for school?
- Get rid of that pesky thumb drive. Save all your documents you need for school in your dropbox and you will no longer need to worry about emailing them to yourself or transporting them on a USB drive that can be easily lost or stolen. You can access them in school even if you cannot load the dropbox app on your computer simply by logging in from the website.
- Help facilitate better collaboration on student projects. Students can solve the problem of having some of their documents saved in different people's profiles. When working together, they can use the public dropbox folder which they can access online in school and also save on their personal laptop or home computer. Dropbox even saves a revision history of every version of a file to easily figure out which student has worked on a project and which is merely piggybacking on others work.
- Create a shared folder for teachers to access at home. Once again, teachers no longer have to worry about getting on their school network at home since they can collaborate on documents in their dropbox.
- Google Docs allows you to work entirely in the cloud and gives you a free Word Processor, Presentation tool, Spreadsheet program, and the ability to create forms and drawers. It's drawback is that you cannot use it as a shared folder to collaboratively work with some of the powerful tools that programs like Microsoft PowerPoint, Smart Notebook, or Keynote provide.
- Windows Skydrive theoretically gives you everything dropbox offers and is MUCH larger with 25 GBs of free space. The one problem with it is that it does not have a reliable app to create a shared folder that will automatically sync with your Skydrive on your computer and it limits individual file sizes to 50 MBs or less.
Enjoy working in the cloud! This is only the beginning!