Teacher Lee Briggs on technology in today's classroom. Brought to you by Weekly Reader.

Saved By the Cloud

Ok, so most of the time, when I rely on anything electronic it ends up betraying me somehow. Nearly every gadget I own has turned on me to the point that when we go shopping, my wife refuses to allow me to pick the actual box we are taking home because my luck is so bad. I think most of my experience in technology can be traced to having it fail and being forced to fix it.

But for once, this is not one of those stories. For once, my horrible bad luck with all things gadget-y has turned. For the last few weeks, sixth grade has split its math classes into two groups: a standard math group and an advanced math group. For most schools, this is normal. But in our small school, it is unmarked territory. We have had to learn to make it work as we go. For the most part, it has gone great. The kids are picking up the concepts better than ever and everyone is challenged. As for the logistics, Scott (the other sixth grade teacher) and I shared an Excel document on Dropbox to keep track of grades so that we can coordinate and eventually feed them into our school’s online gradebook.

Let me repeat that: we are sharing a document.

I bet most of you who have done this already know what happened.

At some point, Scott (I choose to blame him; it just saves time) or I had the file open, then the other teacher opened it at the same time. One person saved the file over the other. The result: I lost two weeks of grading (Scott lost nothing, which makes it even more convenient for me to blame him). If this were a shared drive on our network, or a file on a disk drive, we would have been out of luck. But Scott, bless his heart, is a Dropbox user, and our Excel file was shared via Dropbox. In fewer than five minutes I was able to ‘restore’ my old grades and paste them into the new file without a single grade lost. With our third quarter ending this week, I was saved from certain doom. Seriously, if only for the ability to automatically track versions of your files and backing them up: START PUTTING YOUR FILES ON THE CLOUD NOW!

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