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Friday, December 3, 2010

10+ Alternatives to Drop.io

Last month Drop.io announced that they are shutting down on December 15. I just posted a reminder about that and promised to follow up with some alternatives to the services that Drop.io offered. Here are ten alternatives to the ten things teachers could do with Drop.io in the past.

1. Post documents and PDFs for others to view and download.
This can be done with many blog and website building platforms including Google Sites, Blogger, and Edublogs. But if you don't want to go that route you could use a service such as Issuu, DocStoc, or Scribd to host your PDFs and manage their downloads. All three of those services provide you with a few different formats for embedding your documents into a blog or website.


2. Post documents, links, videos, audio files for others to access and comment on.
Again, this is pretty much the purpose of a blog. I'm partial to Blogger, but WordPress, Edublogs, and Posterous are also excellent platforms. 


3. Create voice recordings in MP3 format.
Vocaroo is a free service that allows users to create audio recordings without the need to install any software. You don't even have to create an account to use Vocaroo. All you need to provide is a microphone. To create a recording just go to Vocaroo.com, click record, grant Vocaroo access to your mic, and start talking. After completing your recording, Vocaroo gives you the choice to publish it or to scrap it and try again.

MyPodcast.com provides free podcast hosting as well as free podcast recording software. (The software is available for PC only). I tested out the software a while back and found it to be more than adequate for creating vocal podcasts. For schools that do not use Apple computers (Garage Band is standard on Mac) MyPodcast.com is a good, free podcasting tool.

4. Establish a voicemail box at no cost to you.
For readers in the US Google Voice provides you with a phone number that can ring all of your landline and mobile phones simultaneously. You can choose settings in your Google Voice account to send all calls to your Google Voice number directly to voicemail where you can then play them back or have them transcribed for reading. Google Voice also offers a slew of other features that you might find handy.

5. Host online presentations.
There is no shortage of services that allow you to host presentations online. Here are a couple that I like:

Vokle is a free service for hosting and recording live web conferences. Using Vokle you can host a live conference in which participants can chat with text while you broadcast yourself. You can also broadcast a conversation of yourself and another person who has their webcam enabled. The text chat room can be used to organize a line-up of people who would like to broadcast themselves to the other chat participants. 

Join.me is a free service offered by Log Me In. Join.me allows Mac and Windows users to quickly share their screens with each other and work together. To use Join.me you do need to download the Join.me client. Once you've downloaded the client you can start sharing your screen with anyone you like. Just give your nine digit access number to your collaborators to give them access to your screen and to converse with you. 

6. Chat with others accessing your Drop.io page. 
Scribblar is a free, simple service designed for creative, real-time collaboration. Using Scribblar, users can collaborate on the creation and editing of images and drawings. If you have an image you can upload it to your whiteboard where you and others can edit it or comment on it. The commenting can take place directly on the whiteboard or in one of two side bar chat options. Users can chat in text or in voice. In the last few months Scribblar has added a mathematics equations editor and support for PPT files. 


7. Create an anonymous @drop.io email account. 
There is no shortage of services offering "disposable" or "temporary" email addresses. If you're wondering why anyone would need a disposable email address, Wikipedia offers a decent explanation. Here are a couple to look at if you need a disposable or temporary email address: mailexpire and mailinator.

8. Create a "drop box" to collect work from students using the Drop.io upload widget.
This is the feature that I thought I was going to miss the most because I was using Drop.io to collect a lot of assignments from students. I have found a new service that I like even better than Drop.io.

DROPitTOme is a free service that works with Drop Box to allow people to upload files to your Drop Box account without giving them access to the contents of your Drop Box account. For those not familiar with Drop Box it is a service that provides 2GB of free online file storage (by the way, that's way more than the 100mb Drop.io offered). You can access your Drop Box from any computer and most mobile devices. You can also sync it across multiple computers. The best part is you receive a notification every time someone adds a file to your Drop Box (you can disable this if you want).

9. Use Drop.io bookmarklets to bookmark links and add them to your Drop.io page.
Again, this is a function for which there is no shortage of replacements. I put together a list of seven good ones here. I've also been promoting Google Bookmarks for the last few months. Learn how to use Google Bookmarks in my free publication Google for Teachers II. If you're looking for a way to send bookmarks to multiple places, I recommend trying Shareaholic.

10. Offer RSS feed for updates to your Drop.io page.
Any blog or website platform worth its salt will offer this as a standard option. If you want to track the number of people subscribing to your blog or website, give FeedBurner a try.