App #2: Dropbox

Dropbox has been an indispensable app for my teaching for the past three years. Even before using the iPad, Dropbox has been a virtual lifesaver. I’m assuming most of you have heard of it, but here is a general summary of what it does:

  • Dropbox will store the files you want (they can be documents, photos, mp3s, pdfs, jpegs etc.) onto its servers.
  • This is what is called “the cloud”. I’m sure you’ve heard that term floating around
  • Once someone downloads it and installs the program onto their computer, they are able to create folders and organize all their files. Folders are also able to be shared among other Dropbox users, or even those who do not have it. The advantage of sharing with users who already have it installed themselves is that they can also edit and add files to that folder.
  • Once the files are in the cloud, users can access their files anywhere in the world, on any computer. For example, when I travel to Paris and want to check or download any file, I simply log onto my account on
  • No more emailing files to yourself (remember how cool that was 10 years ago?)
  • This is great for teachers especially when you make a worksheet at home. No more need for USB sticks/thumbdrives. Simply save it on your computer at home and it will be there at school when you open it in the morning.

I am part of a group of over 125 language teachers all around the world that share teaching files. What a great resource to have. All topics and themes are neatly divided into folders. What a great resource this is for team teaching! Teachers add to the dropbox when they have created something unique!


  • iPads, iPhones and iPod touchs’ all have the dropbox app, so you can “view” all your files within seconds. Sending files to parents and students from the Apple devices is just a matter of a few buttons. Searching for files is quick, just type in the title in the search button
  • Though there are a number of Dropbox competitors arising (Microsoft Skydrive, Box, and Google Drive to name a few, I do think that Dropbox is still King of the cloud, in its ease and familiarity with the majority of users
  • Don’t have Dropbox yet? Download it here.
  • Here’s a screenshot of what looks like on Safari on the iPad:

Here’s what the Dropbox iPad app looks like:

Please note that on the iPad, you are only able to view the files and not manipulate them. There are other apps that work with Dropbox that allow you to edit them. I will discuss those shortly. Start organizing your files and soon you will see how valuable this app can be.

*Update! Dropbox vs. Box and Mediafire

Dropbox is different from google docs and Box in terms of capabilities. While I am not an expert google docs (now updated to the new Google Drive) user, I will compare Dropbox to the services Box and Mediafire, which I am sure some of you are familiar with.

Mediafire is a cloud service where users can share files easily with just a link, instead of having to email entire files one by one. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but users who download the files can not automatically edit/change those files. They would have to start their own mediafire accounts and upload their own versions of it. With Dropbox, users can easily share and edit their files automatically. If users within a group trust each other, this is a seamless and effortless way of working in groups. Within that folder, users just need to press “Save” on whatever program they are working on, and it will change for EVERYONE who the folder is shared with. Syncing is effortlessly easy.

Box is very similar to Mediafire. The Box iPhone/iPad is clunky. Users on the app are only able to upload one file at a time. I use Box personally just to upload photos for backup. I much prefer Dropbox for its simplicity and comparability with countless other apps. Since most people I collaborate with use Dropbox, it only makes sense to stick with it.

9 Comments Add yours

  1. Pingback: Teaching with iPad
  2. Jean Smith, RN says:

    Question for you: We have dropbox on ipads at our clinic for e-charting. I have documents and photos in dropbox. When I go to our echarting and want to transfer a document from dropbox to the patient’s e-chart, the only option that comes up from dropbox is the photo: camera roll. My documents are not in the photo/camera roll. Can’t figure out how to get other drop down options other than the photo/camera roll. Any suggestions? Is it an e-chart program problem or dropbox program problem do you think?

    1. What format are these documents in? .doc or .docx or pdf?

      You will need an app that is capable of viewing or editing the file. If you want to just view it, then something like iBooks would even work. Let me know. If it is an obscure file that is specific to nursing or hospitals, only to be viewed on standard PCs, you might be out of luck.

      Other pdf apps include PDF expert, Goodreader, or Adobe Reader.
      To find out the format, right click the document on the PC and choose properties.


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