Or actually ‘files in the cloud’. This is a bit of a lazy post ;o)
Is cloud computing the way to go (you know, not actually storing files on your computer, but uploading them to some form of storage space on the web)? I don’t know if it’s for everyone, to be honest, since this obviously depends on internet access and, to really work well, all manner of apps and tricks to manage your storage.
What I know is that it has been immensely useful lately for me to be keeping certain stuff online. I can prep lesson notes and collect resources at home and they’ll automatically sync and be available online when I get to work. Great.
Here’s an overview of my storage space at the moment and what I’m doing with it:
Google docs – 1 MB (0%) of my 1024 MB is currently being used. This is a bit of a misnomer, as if you are keeping documents here in Google docs format (as opposed to .doc, .jpg, and so on) they don’t actually use up any of your storage space. Great stuff! I’ve used Google docs to share guest blog posts I have written, sync files between work and home, share spreadsheets and other documents with colleagues.
Check Free Technology for Teachers for more of an explanation as to how teachers can use Google docs.
GMail – using 81 MB (1%) of my 7542 MB. I’ve come to love GMail, following recommendation from my Twitter teaching contacts and seeing a video by Jason Renshaw about what he does with GMail. I’m currently in the process of migrating my email stuff to GMail, but I’m also taking advantage of the space to keep pdf and jpg attachments in the email client rather than downloading to my desktop. Very handy.
I only have a basic Dropbox account, but this is still 2GB of online storage space. I’m currently only using 164.4MB of this, so still got a lot of space to use. I’ve downloaded the desktop application for my home PC, but log on to the web version while at work. This is useful for me especially when working on longer term projects, and I can sync the related documents. I’ve mostly got ppts, pdfs, jpegs in my Dropbox, along with a few mp3 and video files. For a much nicer summary of what Dropbox is, check out Ian Addison’s post A (drop)box of tricks. For more advanced Dropboxing, check out this Dropbox wiki.
This should probably also come under the Google entry above, as now Google own YouTube it’s very easy to manage your different GMail, Google docs and YouTube accounts. I counted this yesterday, but can’t find the piece of paper, so as a rough guesstimate I have about 31 minutes of video uploaded to YouTube at the moment: a mixture of video tutorials for students and staff at my college, videos for vocab practice I made with Windows Movie Maker, and direct uploads from my Kodak playtouch. To be honest, I’m not using this all that much, but have plans to increase my YouTubing in the future.
This is possibly the app that is making me think more and more that getting a smartphone (and, possibly in the longer term future, a tablet PC) would be a good idea. Very simply, Evernote is saving my bacon at the moment. I’m not sure about you, readers, but I find my time is an increasingly rare commodity these days, and that my prep for lessons is often left until last thing. Evernote means I can sync quick notes about my lessons, what I’m going to teach, how I might do it, ideas for fillers, etc. between the desktop app that I have at home and the web version when I get to work. I don’t know whether there is a final upper limit as to what you can store with Evernote, but there is a monthly limit for what you can upload using the free version of 60MB. That’s plently for me at the moment, as I’m just writing notes on Evernote itself or uploading pdfs. If I start to put a bit more there, I’ll consider the premium option, which lets you upload up to 1GB a month. Check out Michael Cruz’s 10 Tips for Teachers Using Evernote for some ideas.
As I said, this is a bit of a lazy post, but I am interested to know about other people using cloud computing-type apps in this way. Do you have any tips or tricks you can share?