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Cloud Computing | Feature

3 Cloud Storage Services You Should Be Using Right Now

The controversy over the student data integration service inBloom highlighted a number of challenges facing tech-friendly educators, among them the fact that a portion of the public doesn’t understand cloud storage. So what is it? Cloud storage basically means you are letting someone else keep your files safe. You don’t have to take up your hard drive space, you can access your files from anywhere with Internet access (which is very useful with so many mobile devices available now) and you can speedily share files with other people. 

What cloud storage services should educators be using right now? Let’s start with these three:

  • Google Drive (previously known as Google Docs) lets you upload or create a variety of document types for free. You can upload a lesson that you created at home so you can access it at work to print it. No more need to e-mail it to yourself. Students can upload a paper that they didn’t finish writing at school to “take it home.” They’ll never again have the wrong document format when they go to turn in their essays, and “I left it at home” will no longer be a valid excuse. Students can also collaborate on assignments from their own homes or while at school. Afraid someone will sabotage a file? Google Drive includes a version listing and a record of changes made.
  • iTunes Match not only stores your music online, but also provides you with the best quality format they have when you play it back. Their annual fee of $24.99 is quite reasonable, considering how much hard drive space you can gain. If you’re worried about how to get your music if you stop the service, just be sure to create a backup of your music to keep at home. If you buy your music on iTunes anyway, it won't really matter. iTunes will let you download what you have already purchased from them. Goodbye CDs!
  • Document storage options like Dropbox or Box are convenient when you need to transfer or share large files. I started using Dropbox when I was teaching video classes, because the student’s movies were so long that they wouldn’t e-mail or upload to Drive. Students can upload a large project and send you an invitation to access the file. You get a certain amount of storage free before you have to pay for additional space.

While you don’t have to keep your own copy of the files you save in the cloud, I recommend that you do. To me, it’s mostly for peace of mind, but with all of the hacking events and attempts going on these days, it just makes sense to have a backup. Most cloud storage services make this simple by automatically syncing the files on your desktop to the cloud.

About the Author

Ellen Zimmerman is a faculty member at Western Governors University, where she mentors students in the College of Information Technology. Her master's degree is in Educational Technology Leadership, and she has a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting. Currently, she is a doctoral student at the University of North Texas with a focus on learning cognition and curriculum.

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