You know that I really like DropBox and the DropItToMe combination. I think it’s genius when looking at a web-based hand-in folder for students. I wrote a post about it once and do repeat it as a “post from the past” at the beginning of the school year. With more students involved with BYOD, it’s important to have their work submitted to the teacher and nobody wants more paper. Electronic copies make so much sense.
Of course, when a student hands in a file for an assignment submission, they’ll attach their name to the file so that the teacher knows whose file is whose.
Recently, I had a former colleague ask a wide sweeping question about electronic hand-ins to her network on Facebook and I responded with my post above. I, of course, tried it out again at home to make sure that it would work; she tried it out at her home and it worked and she was ready to go with it.
As her students started to submit their work, she noticed a problem. Only a few of the submissions were getting to her. She would download a file from DropBox and look at it; go back and get another submission; etc. But, in a complete class, she wasn’t getting all of the submissions and was puzzled. She asked me if there was a problem with Dropbox; I tested it and it sure looked like it worked.
So we did some digging around and got to the bottom of things.
She was using the Pic Collage application with her students. It’s a nice app that creates a collage from content that you send it. Once a student is happy with the results, she or he would save it to the camera roll on the iPad and then go through the process of submitting the finished product. They would appear to be following instructions properly but she wasn’t getting the files.
I was able to replicate her frustration here. The problem, as I see it, is that each file that was submitted from the camera roll is called “image.jpg”. No many how many times you upload it, only one appears in Dropbox. As I’m sure you can see by now, the problem is that subsequent uploads were simply overwriting the one uploaded before it.
No problem, I thought. I’ve got a number of ideas that might solve the situation.
- Configure Dropbox to allow multiple copies of the same file. It’s a pretty common activity – the application could just call the files image(1).jpg, image(2).jpg, … or some similar naming convention. Strike One.
- Go into Pic Collage and see if there’s a “Save As” or option to give the file that it creates a unique name. None found. Strike Two.
- Go into the Camera Roll and rename the file. The only editing options deal with editing the image itself and not the filename. Strike Three.
I am out of ideas.
Well, actually, I’m out of my own ideas so I’d like to turn to you for assistance.
I don’t think that what she’s asking from technology is something unreasonable. Or is it just not possible when taking a consumer, one user product, and attempting to use it in a networked world?
I can see a couple of ways around it but they sure seem like a real jury rig.
- Sit at a computer with Dropbox open and have the students send the files one at a time and download them as they appear;
- Have the students transfer the file to a regular computer, rename it there and then upload it.
Both of these ideas would work but take all of the elegance and magic out of using a computer. Surely, there’s a better way.
I’m hoping that I can’t see the forest for the trees and that one of my very talented blog readers has a simple solution. Well?
- DropBox Makes Google Drive Look Like the Work of a Script Kiddie (infolific.com)
- Dropbox let me down (ithoughts.de)
- Bye bye, Dropbox. (thespydabyte.com)
- Dropbox Organization Tips for Teachers and the Paperless Classroom (coolcatteacher.com)
- Dropbox 3.0 Released with iOS 7 Redesign (macstories.net)