Now that our students will all have laptops, teachers are asking about ways to digitally distribute documents to students. There are many options available including eChalk, Google Docs, Evernote, Willard eCampus-Moodle, building server/NetStorage, and MyBrainShark.
Best Practices PDFs
First, I would recommend posting your files as PDFs, (when applicable) to ensure that they can be opened on various devices, without any particular version of a paid piece of software. In MS Office you can easily save a file as a PDF.
Probably one of the easiest ways to post a file for students and parents is using eChalk, our High School Website publishing service. All teachers have the access to edit their department, team, club, etc. webpages on the high school website. Teachers can also create additional class webpages. On any of these pages teachers can upload files for students to access. This handout will lead you through the steps. For additional information see the eChalk course on our eCampus site.
Through their Willard Google Apps accounts all teachers have access to Google Docs. You can upload any type of file to Google Docs (image, Word file, PowerPoint file, audio, video, etc). You can also create documents or copy/paste within Google Docs.
For these files you can choose to make them public and then distribute the link to share. Using this method, your students will NOT have to be logged into their Google accounts in order to view your shared file.
You can also create a folder and share it with all the students in a class or hour. Any files placed in this shared folder with be accessible by students when they are logged into their Willard Google Apps accounts. Be sure to set the share as Can View for each student or else they will be able to edit all the documents in this folder.
Evernote is my favorite tool. I use it across the board from personal to professional in so many ways that it is by far #1 on my list of favorite apps. To create a note you can type, copy/paste, send an email, send a picture from your phone, attach file, bookmark a webpage, or clip parts of a webpage, etc. For each note, you can access a public link that you can use to share it. Viewers will NOT need an Evernote account to view the note. If I was still in the classroom I’d being using Evernote as my digital notebook to store all the resources for my units (worksheets, website links, slideshows, podcasts, lesson plan notes, etc) – but that’s another post.
Willard eCampus – Moodle
Using our District’s Moodle server, Willard eCampus, teachers can upload files into a course for students to access. If your goal is just to post resources it is not necessary to require students to login. So essentially you can choose to utilize the online course as if it were just a class webpage with available resources.
Students can access a shared class/teacher folder on the building server. For example, you can have a folder on the server, nested in your H: drive, that your students can access to view any files you have placed there. In addition, permissions can be set so that students can save files to this same shared folder. They will have access only to this shared folder, not your entire H: drive. Scott Wooldridge can create these folders with the preferred permissions as requested.
Using NetStorage, students can access this folder when not at school. There’s a link to NetStorage on the high school homepage, along with a how-to handout. I’ve been told by reliable sources that NetStorage will be updated soon with features that make it more like Dropbox. Since Scott has concerns about the amount of bandwidth that DropBox uses, I’m not including it in my list of recommendations.
MyBrainShark is a free tool available to teachers within their Google Apps accounts.
You can upload documents, presentations, and video here. You can then record audio for an uploaded document. So you could provide verbal commentary for an uploaded document. You can also record audio an uploaded presentation or a video.
Willard High School Teachers: If you need help with one of these tools I’m available.