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Tech Thursday: Collaboration alternative - Dropbox Paper
Not everyone loves using Google Drive - here is one alternative for collaboration with colleagues and students.
One stumbling block to working well with others is how to share files. I often wonder if educators just are behind the times here, as we often are still emailing files called “Syllabus spring 2020 Jan13 JG comments RVSD 1-30 BB FINAL” back and forth. Obviously, there are good reasons for keeping versions of drafts - I confess, I have a folder called “Archive Drafts” with almost daily versions of in-progress work. Just in case. But there are many times where our work would probably run a bit smoother if we used more shared spaces for file creation and revision. Google Drive is great for live classes and students working together in a space where you can monitor (in a pedagogically appropriate way), and I’ve shared various templates for that purpose. But not everyone is a Google fan, so here is one alternative.
Despite being a DropBox user for well over 10 years, I’ve not really used DropBox Paper, which is their new(ish) collaboration tool. It was always possible to share files stored in DropBox, edit the local copy, and sync changes to the cloud, but Paper provides a more live collaborative feel. If you are familiar with setting up and sharing a document from Google Drive, the interface will be easy to figure out. You have basic editing/formatting functions, more robust collaborating functions, and some fun added ones - like the project management timeline, below.
Here’s what a Paper file looks like from the web:
One of the functions I always have liked about Dropbox is that there’s a copy of each file on your desktop (laptop) so that if you’re without internet you can access the file, update it, and changes will sync once you’re reconnected. That was super important back in 2011, although perhaps less so now (Google Drive lets you do the same thing). This works when the file is a file type for which you have the software/an app installed on your device. The Paper file opens in your browser; you can export it as a PDF or Word document, but then it’s no longer a special collaboration space with the added interactive tools.
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