Ask the Experts: Cloud Computing
January 1, 2014

Q: What are people talking about when they refer to “the cloud”? Other teachers recommend that I start using cloud computing for storage and editing purposes, but I don’t actually know what that means or what the benefits are.

A: Putting your information “in the cloud,” in its simplest form, means storing your documents, pictures, etc., on the internet. The biggest benefit of cloud computing is that you can access and share your information from any device that is connected to the internet. Cloud computing is very safe, since the servers where your information is stored probably have far better backup than you do at home. 

Many different providers offer ways to use the cloud, with apps for your mobile devices and tablets. With Google Drive, you can store documents, photos, presentations and spreadsheets. It’s a great way to work on something with others from a distance, as you can simultaneously edit a document from different computers. Also, you can access and edit the documents right from a menu on your computer, even if you’re not online. (The next time you’re back online, Google Drive will automatically update the file.)

Dropbox is another popular way to use cloud storage, because it allows you to keep and edit documents, photos, videos, etc., on your computer, much like Google Drive. The difference is that Google uses its own software (which is compatible with most programs), while Dropbox just acts as a storage container that you can choose to let others access. Any file updates must be made online. I generally use Dropbox to share large groups of pictures and videos when I want others to have the highest quality file for download. 

I’m also a big fan of Evernote. Not only does it have the same benefits as Google Drive and Dropbox, but it also scans your documents so that you can search your entire library by phrase or step. This is helpful when it comes to lesson plan organization. 

Barry Blumenfeld teaches at the Friends School in New York City. He is an adjunct professor at New York University and on faculty of the Dance Education Laboratory of the 92nd Street Y.

Photo courtesy of Barry Blumenfeld

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