Winner Takes All the File Sharing It Wants
It's one thing to put tablets or interactive whiteboards on your school's wish list, but how many educators go to bed dreaming of their very own web-based file sharing and storage capability? Enough that one cloud software firm decided to offer a year's worth of it free to any school or district that came up with the best reason for why they deserved it.
It's one thing to put tablets or interactive whiteboards on your school's wish list, but how many educators go to bed dreaming of their very own web-based file sharing and storage capability? Enough that one cloud software firm decided to offer a year's worth of free file sharing to the school or district that came up with the best reason for why they deserved it.
"The seemingly simple task of storing a file on a server to be accessed later--either from home or another location--remains a frustrating challenge for students and teachers," said Kelly Smith, marketing and sales manager for San Diego-based School Web Lockers.
That's why K-12 school districts throughout the United States have the chance to compete for a year's worth of the free services with the second annual School Web Lockers Supreme Storage Makeover Grant Contest. To enter the competition, schools or school districts must submit a one-page essay that describes their data storage challenges and how School Web Lockers' cloud-based system could help.
"We know a lot of schools can't afford services like this because of budget cuts," Smith said, "so we decided to do something to help."
Granted, the contest helps School Web Lockers too. The experience of last year's winner, Lowndes High School in Valdosta, GA, was enough to convince the Lowndes County Schools board to extend their yearlong trial.
"Because of this, our whole school system jumped on board and purchased it," said Laverne Hill, the Lowndes High media specialist who wrote the contest-winning essay last year.
She said every one of the district's campuses and its administrative center had its own hard drive that many people—including students—had access to.
"We have some students who are a little mischievous," Hill said. "I continually had traffic in my office of people looking for files they couldn't find. That was the basis of my sob story."
That, however, is not necessarily why School Web Lockers made Hill's school the winner.
"It was the way they were planning on rolling it out, with all of their professional development plans," Smith said.
She noted that often when educational institutions get something for free, they are not always as motivated to use it as when the district purchases it. "We wanted to make sure the school was actually going to use it," Smith said.
Entry forms and full contest details are available at www.schoolweblockers.com. The deadline for submissions is Friday, Dec. 16. Winners will be announced Jan. 3.
All individual schools or school districts are eligible. Besides the main prize of a year's web-based file sharing and storage service, five semifinalists will receive a 50 percent discount on the service. Smith said School Web Lockers typically charges $1 per user per year, pointing out the same contest rules apply to all schools and districts, regardless of their size.
"There's no minimum and no maximum," she said. "Whoever writes the best essay wins."
Lowndes High has about 3,000 students and 200 teachers. The Lowndes school district has about 10,20 students, 1,400 employees and 11 campuses.
School Web Lockers is an off-site software-as-a-service platform that allows students and teachers to complete assignments and file them either at school or away. Each user has a secure, password-protected web locker, or digital drop box. The software also offers a calendar, folders categorized by class, teacher blogging capabilities, and message boards.
Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.