Collaborating and sharing files

DropboxLast week we investigated using Dropbox on the iPads so we could hand in and share work.  Before working with the students I had already created a dropbox account for the class.  We are going to share that drop box.

So in class –

First we downloaded the dropbox app.  Next students shared a photo or screen shot they had taken.  We do have an iPod Touch with a camera and use duplicam for students to get a photo on their iPads along with the hundreds of photos available on our school intranet Photo Gallery. Then we discovered that you need to select the photos folder first and then upload the photo.  It is very easy as you tap the camera icon and are sent to your photo gallery.  It couldn’t be easier. So that had photos covered but how can we put keynotes or anything not an image into dropbox?

Sendtodropbox

After some googling I found sendtodropbox.com

This allows you to send an attachment to dropbox via email and we all know that many apps allow you to share via email.  So this will easily allow the students to share and hand in work plus be organised into folders.

By adding the dropbox account details into sendtodropbox you are then given an email address to use to sendto.  The part I liked was that you can set it up so that the subject of the email becomes a folder or looks for a folder with that name to put the attachment into.  You could have the students put their name in the subject and then they would have their own folder or you could put the topic in the subject and that would be the folder.  As long as the attachment is properly saved with topic and student name.

I found that students weren’t naming their keynotes and just leaving them as presentation 2 etc.  So another skill has been learnt and sharing has begun.  Sharing work to have others add to will also be a use of the dropbox folders.  I sent our timetable and now all students have it in their iBooks.  It was sent as a PDF file.

I think dropbox will have some great uses  and it will be interesting to see how it goes for space as we are allowed 2gb per account.  Perhaps the shared folder will be used in the future also. I am yet to find out about the shared folders capabilities.  Do you use dropbox? If you have any ideas please share them as I would love to know how others are using dropbox in the classroom. Teachers can view the files and add comments then students can look again and read comments etc and make changes if necessary.

Of course you can get dropbox on your laptop, desktop and phones so student work can be accessed everywhere/anytime.

Updating iOS and syncing

Last week the new iOs 4.3 was released so I thought we should all update our ipads.  The download is close to 600mbs which too big for wireless to drag down x20 at a time.  So we connected via ethernet and 6 students began downloading the required update. Once the students had logged in to their users on the network they then connected the iPad and selected update in iTunes on the info window.  As downloading began they were looking at over 30 mins to download and so we had to leave them running and come back later.  This was going to take too long.

So plan 2 was put into operation which was used last year to update software.  Once the download is complete the download file can be used by others to update without syncing to different iTunes libraries or downloading the iOS. The file is located in the users library/iTunes/ipad updates/update file.  The file can be copied onto an external drive or onto a shared drive for easy access.

Then the other students who want to use the file login and connect their iPad.  Once iTunes opens it will tell them there is an update available.  They can then hold the option key while they select update.  A browser window will open wanting to find the file.  Students then navigate to the file and boom!  It installs very quickly not like the original download. This process can also be used for the iPods.

We had a student volunteer to update as many ipads for others as he could that afternoon.  So it could actually be done from one account to many iPads.  As it is a free download I can’t see there being any issues with this.

It was interesting as one of the original students who was installing the update disconnected her iPad before it finished and then had an iPad that wanted to connect to iTunes as when new image on the iPad.  Luckily she had backed up to her account and it could be restored from the backup.  A great example of why we backup.

Credit and Syncing to PC

We still have a way to go to get all students up and running with all apps downloaded. One student purchased an app not on the list and used up credit. Hmmm.

We have decided to give the students from last year some more credit ($20) however it will be in a school iTunes account not their home account so we don’t lose the apps. To do this I have created email accounts for each iPad and forwarded them to my email. Then I created iTunes accounts and added the credit. Buying $40 for $30 has worked well and saved a lot of money at 25% off.

Today we synced the iPads back to the school computers. This was a two step process involving authenticating the computer and transfering purchase to this computer. Some student got the transfer message but it only transferred the music. I later remembered the control click on the named iPad in iTunes and then you select transfer purchased items. This time all the apps came into their iTunes library at school. It was interesting as some students had apps that were not purchased by them and then couldn’t authenticate the apps for the computer.

I have found that some students shared their iTunes account last year and reinstalled a previously bought app on another students iPad in return for the downloading of the games apps. This was illegal and has been spoken about at length with the students.

The forwarding of the emails from iTunes is working very well as I can see what the students are downloading from their school accounts. This is very useful also for the bursar keeping up with iTunes credit.
If you go to www.itunesonsale.com there is a calendar of itunes cards specials in Australia. I wonder if it works in other countries.