Web Tools

There are a couple of web based tools that can make life a lot easier (in my humble opinion).  These are almost must-haves for people who use several computers or mobile devices to access content.  The tools I've suggested below are free and well-established.  I have not received any spam from them.

Essential Web Apps

Google isn't just a search engine.  Google has a whole suite of free creative tools that can be tied to your gMail account or other Google account address.  Our school also has access to a Google Apps for EDU account which allows safe and secure file sharing among students and the ability to access their work from any internet - connected device, any time, anywhere.  Google Docs can replace the MS Office Suite and Sites allows students and/or teachers to create websites quickly and easily (Iike this one).

Another nice thing about a Google account is that Google is an OpenID provider.  That means that your Google account can act as your login for some other sites that allow it.

This account will also allow you to create a classroom blog using Blogger.

If you have students writing on iPads, they will need a place to save their work to.  This tool saves their work automatically, and even saves each revision, so if you or they forget to log out, and someone else deletes their work, you can easily recover it.

You can also access the school website as an editor and add events to the school or staff calendar with this tool.

In addition to hosting all of your Google Docs, you can also store up to 1GB of files of any type in Google for free.

Signing Up for Google Accounts

To get a new gMail address click here.

To get a Google account that is associated with another email account (i.e. yrdsb.edu.on.ca, hotmail.com, yahoo.ca, rogers.com, sympatico.ca, etc.) click here.

Instructions for setting up 
Dropbox allows you to sync files in a folder on your computer to the web.  They will host up to 2GB of information for free.

The nice thing about it is that you can install Dropbox on several computers or mobile devices (iPads, etc.) and as soon as you update a file or save a file there from one device, it is updated and available on all devices.  

Many websites and iPad apps also use Dropbox as a location to store files that you've created.  This is important on the iPad because there isn't a lot of memory like the hard drive on your computer.

You can also share files in a public folder on Dropbox to allow your students to download them.  This is useful for things like rubrics or project outlines that tend to get lost.

To sign up for a Dropbox account click here.

Dropbox can also be combined with Dropitto.me.  This will create a folder within Dropbox that you can have students use to send you files.  You protect the folder with a password that you tell the students in class and then they can upload completed assignments or even multimedia files for you to look at, at your convenience.

How to Set Up a Teacher Dropbox Account

How to Set Up a Set of Connected Dropbox Accounts for your Class

Saving to Dropbox

Other (Very) Useful Web Apps

Lastpass is a password manager that will work across all of your devices and browsers.  If you're like most people and have a lot of different online accounts, it can be a pain to remember all of your passwords, or you may resort to using one or two passwords for all of your sites (including your banking, iTunes, etc.).  Lastpass securely stores all of your passwords and will automatically fill them in for you when you visit a site.  It will also generate secure passwords (no more your partner or child's name and birthday) that you don't even have to bother remembering.  Each time you start your browser, you sign into the Lastpass extension once and it fills in everything else.

Lastpass Premium will securely sync all of your passwords across multiple computers or devices.  It does cost $12/year, but if you consider it in terms of Tim Horton's coffee, that's less than the price of 8 coffees.
 Box is a service that works much like Dropbox in that it is an online storage service for files.  While it does not integrate with your computer file system quite as well as Dropbox, it does make sharing files very easy.  

You can also embed files into your blog (see example) very easily.

Box starts you off with 5GB of storage but gives you an extra 20GB if you install the app on a portable device (iPad, etc.).

To sign up for a box account click here.
 If you have a Hotmail account, you can get a SkyDrive account from Microsoft.  That allows you to store up to 20 GB online.

SkyDrive also allows you to great MS Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files online now. 

There is a SkyDrive app available for the iPad.