Tuesday, June 12, 2012

15 Free Tools for Storing and Sharing Files

Six months ago I shared a list of good file sharing tools for teachers and students. Since then, I've come across some more tools to add to that list. Here is my new list of file sharing tools for students and teachers. Using these tools can help you avoid having an email inbox that is overflowing with file attachments.

The tools that I frequently use:
I use Google Documents and Google Drive for nearly all of my document storage needs. Google Documents (now a part of Google Drive) is best known for document, presentation, and spreadsheet creation. But you can also use Google Drive just to upload and store files that you have created elsewhere. And all of your files can be shared publicly or privately with others. Google Drive provides 5GB of storage for free.

The other tool that I frequently use for collecting, storing, and sharing files is Dropbox. In April Dropbox got in on the easy file sharing game by introducing a "get link" feature. Theis option allows you to publish to the web any file that is in your Dropbox account. To publish files to the web from your Dropbox account simply click "get link" next to your file's name and a URL for your file will be generated. Give that URL to anyone you want to view your file. People accessing that URL will be able to see the file and its contents but will not be able to edit or delete any of the file's contents. Publishing isn't limited to just one file at a time, you can publish an entire folder from your Dropbox account with one link.

DROPitTOme is a free service that works with Dropbox to allow people to upload files to your Dropbox account without giving them access to the contents of your Dropbox account. DROPitTOme works by synchronizing with your Dropbox account. After connecting the two services DROPitTOme provides a url that you can give to others to upload files to your Dropbox account. You must specify a password that has to be entered before an upload can take place. Give the url and password to those people you want to be able to upload files to your Dropbox account.

File Dropper is the file sharing tool that I have used longer than any of the tool on this list. It's a free and very easy way to share files up to 5GB. To use File Dropper simply upload your file and File Dropper assigns it a unique URL that you can then share with anyone. File Dropper is not nearly as feature-rich as some of the other file hosting and sharing services, but it is free and upload times are fast.

Other file sharing tools that I have tried.
Just because I don't use these on a regular basis doesn't mean they're not good, I just don't need to use more than what I listed above.

File Stork is a tool that works with Dropbox and allows you to collect files in two ways. You can make an individual file request by sending an email to someone. The other way, and the more practical way for teachers, is to create a "stand alone" request which will allow you to post an upload link on your blog or website. Visitors can then use that link to upload a file to your Dropbox where you can view it and download it if you like. File Stork allows you to specify an upload password and allows you to specify which types of files you will allow to be uploaded to your Dropbox. People uploading files to your Dropbox through File Stork do not have access to any of the files in your account.

Uploader Box is a free service for sharing large files with your friends and colleagues. To use the service just upload a file from your computer, enter your email address, and enter the email addresses of your intended recipients. Once your file is uploaded, Uploader Box will provide you with two urls. One of the urls is for sharing your file and the other is for deleting your file if you decide you no longer want to share it.

Go Pileus is a simple free service for quickly sharing files. To use Go Pileus just drag a file from your desktop to the Go Pileus page in your browser. Alternatively, you can select upload on Go Pileus to browse for files on your computer. Once your chosen file is uploaded Go Pileus will create a short url for your file. Share that url with the people you want to be able to view and save your file. You can use Go Pileus without creating an account, but your files expire after thirty minutes. Creating an account on Go Pileus will allow your files to be accessible longer.

Minus (Min.us) provides a simple way to share files with anyone. To use Minus just drag a file onto the blank Minus canvas. Once your file is on the canvas Minus will provide you with links to share your file with others. Minus will also generate a HTML code that you can use to embed your file into a blog or website. Those people with whom you share the url for your file can also download your file.

Let's Crate is a very easy to use file sharing service. To use Let's Crate just drag a file from your desktop to the Let's Crate page. Let's Crate then creates a unique url that you can send to others so that they can access your file. The unique url expires after 30 minutes unless you create a free Let's Crate account in which case you can keep files on Let's Crate as long as you need them.

Just Beam It is a service for quickly and easily sharing files with your colleagues. To use the service just visit Justbeamit.com and drag a file from your desktop to the Just Beam It transfer box. After dragging your file, Just Beam It generates an unique url for your file. Give that link to the person or people you want to be able to download your files.

Forget Box is a service for sharing large files and collections of files with just a click or two. Forget Box is a not a web app, you do have to install the free Forget Box software on your desktop. With Forget Box installed, right-click on the file(s) you want to share, select a contact from your address book, and send off the file. Your recipient will receive an email with a link to download the file(s) you've shared. Forget Box doesn't have any stated file size limitations.

Bay Files, like the similar services on this list, allows you to upload a file for quick and easy sharing. When you upload a file to Bay Files, Bay Files generates a series of download links that you can give to the people you want to access your files. So instead of sending an email with a big file attachment you can just direct people to the download link associated with your file. You can use Bay Files without registering, but if you do choose to register you can share larger files than can unregistered users.

Drop Canvas is a service offering very simple file sharing. To share a file with someone just go to Dropcanvas.com and drag files from your desktop onto the Dropcanvas screen. You can drop multiple files onto the canvas if you want to. As soon as you have dropped files onto the canvas a url is created for your files or set of files. You can email that url, Tweet it, Facebook it, or post it on your blog. Anyone using that URL can view your shared files and download them.

Dropmark is a service offering a simple platform for private and public file sharing. To use Dropmark you do have to create an account. Once you have your account established you can simply drag files from your desktop onto a blank collection screen in your account. Once your files are in a collection you can make that collection public and share the url assigned to it. Alternatively, you can keep your collection private and share it only with people you invite. Within your Dropmark account you can create multiple collections.

Sugar Sync offers a free plan that allows you to store up to 5GB worth of files. You can sync multiple computers and mobile devices to your Sugar Sync account. Sugar Sync can be used on your computer and or Android phone, iPhone, Blackberry, and Windows Mobile phone. With Sugar Sync you can access your files anytime you can get online. You can also send and share files from any device you use to get online. Like Dropbox, Sugar Sync can be used to share files and folders with others by sharing a public link for others to use to access your files without having to register for an account.

The Living Room Candidate - The History of Campaign Commercials

Last night I was a guest on EdReach's EduNation Google+ Hangout On Air. One of the topics that came up was soundbite media and politics (don't worry it didn't turn into a political show). In the show I mentioned a resource called The Living Room Candidate that I reviewed four years ago. This morning I went back and investigated some new features of the The Living Room Candidate.

The Living Room Candidate is part of a larger project called the Museum of the Moving Image. Visitors to The Living Room Candidate can view the commercials from each campaign from both parties. A written transcript is provided with each commercial. Provided along with each video is an overview of the political landscape of at the time of the campaigns. Visitors to the website can search for commercials by election year, type of commercial, or by campaign issue.

Applications for Education
The Living Room Candidate has a great tool for students called The Living Room Candidate Ad Maker. The Ad Maker can be used by students to remix old advertisements, sound bites, and images to create new campaign commercials. The teachers page on The Living Room Candidate offers nine lesson plans for teaching about the historical context of campaigns, analyzing campaign ads, and creating new campaign ads.

MapFab is a Fabulous Map Creation Tool

MapFab is an excellent free map creation tool built on top of Google Maps. MapFab offers a few advantages over Google Maps, but the most notable advantage is that you do not have to create an account in order to create your custom maps.

To start creating custom maps on MapFab just head to the site and enter your starting location. Then select from the menu of custom placemarks and enter a description. There is a variety of font colors to choose from when you label your placemarks. That same variety of text colors can be applied to your map title too. Just like on Google Maps you can draw polygons and circles on your maps. Also like on Google Maps you can draw lines, but on MapFab you can change the colors of your lines.

When you have finished creating your maps you can download it as a KMZ file to use in Google Earth. You can also embed the map into a blog. Should you need or want to edit your map after publishing it, MapFab gives you a link for that too.

Applications for Education
MapFab does not require registration which makes it instantly available to all students. You could have students use MapFab to locate and label locations that they're studying in your geography lessons. Maps created on MapFab can be password protected so if you wanted students to create maps but only share them with you or their classmates, you could have them set a password for their maps. You could also have students use MapFab to create and map stories in the Google Lit Trips style.

H/T to Google Maps Mania

Fetchnotes Makes It Easier to Share Task Management Duties

A couple of months ago I shared a new collaborative task management tool called Fetchnotes. Yesterday, Fetchnotes added a couple of helpful features. Fetchnotes already used hashtags like Twitter does for labeling and sorting notes. Now when you want to share a note with someone else in your group just add @ before that her name to have the task appear on your list and her's.

Fetchnotes has a Android app and now has a desktop client too. The Fetchnotes web version was recently updated too to make it more streamlined in appearance.

Applications for Education
Fetchnotes doesn't offer a lot of bells and whistles, but it is good for simple recording of notes. If I was a student taking notes in a history course I might use the hashtag "#revolution" for all notes related to revolutions. Then I could go back and read all of my notes about revolution by just searching for that hashtag. If I wanted to quickly share one of the notes with a classmate, I could just put his or her name after the @ symbol.

H/T to TechCrunch