Guest author Wes Burns introduces four different tools that provide free file sharing functionality.
Way back when I was still in school, at least half my teachers shared things online. Whether it was syllabuses or lecture notes, teachers posted documents online all the time. The one drawback was that many times, teachers used school-issued software to share these files online. This software was frequently buggy and/or difficult to use.
There’s a better way to share files with students. Well actually, there are several better ways to share files with students. The following online storage tools use the power of the cloud to give you free storage and simple file sharing.
As an added benefit, these tools translate well into real-world experience for students. It is safe to bet that at least several of your students will be exposed to these tools (or similar tools) when they enter the workforce.
The following file sharing tools are free to use up to a certain limit. Each tool offers a couple gigs of free storage space that you can use to post things online and to receive documents from students. If you work primarily with text documents, presentations and spreadsheets, a few free gigs will last a long time.
Without further delay, let’s get to the good stuff:
Dropbox is a big player in the online file storage game thanks to its simple setup and powerful features. The file sharing options for Dropbox are flexible and make it easy to share documents with students. Just create a free Dropbox account and specify a folder on your computer. Any file that you store within that folder is saved online.
You can then share any of these files by clicking on that file and creating a download link. From there, you can send that download link to any number of students. All they have to do is click on the link and download the file. Students do not have to create an account to access these files; all they need is the download link.
We could argue the pros and cons of educators having a Facebook presence for days but that’s a whole different conversation. For now, let’s just leave it at this for simplicity’s sake: some educators actively engage their students via Facebook. If you’re in the pro-Facebook camp, there’s a new file sharing feature that you might like.
Facebook recently announced that it has added file a file sharing feature for all Facebook Groups. This feature allows you to upload and share files with all group members. Every file type except for music and .exe files can be posted to the group for public downloads. The only limit is that files must be 25 MB or smaller.
Box.com is a major competitor to Dropbox and offers a similar set of features. You can sign up for a Box.com account and get 5 GB free. Any file that you store in your Box.com account can then be shared by generating custom download links. Give those links to your students via e-mail and they can download any file with ease.
If you upgrade to a business account ($15 a month), you’ll get more file sharing features. Paid accounts let you share entire folders with your students. You can then store as many files in there as you want and your students will have access to every file. You can also edit permissions and give students the ability to post their own files in the shared folder.
SugarSync is a popular alternative to Dropbox and Box.com. This storage company offers 5 GB of free storage space with full access to all the features. Free accounts never expire and you won’t be bugged to upgrade. If you never go over your 5 GB of storage space, you will never have to pay to use SugarSync. If you do decide to upgrade, you can get 30 GB of storage space for $4.99 a month.
Both file sharing and folder sharing are supported by SugarSync. You can share any file by uploading it to your account, right-clicking on the file and generating a direct download link. Entire folders can also be shared. As the owner of the account, you can customize the permissions so that students are either restricted to downloading files or are able to upload their own files. You can also password-protect folders and files.
Do you use any other free file sharing tools? Drop a comment and tell us about them! Also, if you've tried Facebook's new file sharing for groups, or have any observations about the tools mentioned above, we'd love to hear about them. Thanks!
Wes Burns is a tech writer with a focus on the cloud storage industry. He runs several personal websites and contributes regularly to OnlineFileStorage.com.
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