….and lesser known clouds.
Google Drive Compared
Google Drive came out recently and now I have had a bit of time to tinker and play with the cloud syncing, document toting, file accessing, life easing, chocolate creating…well maybe not that last bit.
Despite my pitiful attempt at turning Google Drive into Unobtainium I really do find the tool amazingly useful. As an added bonus many schools use Google Apps for Education which means they will eventually all be switched over to Google Drive as well. Professionally I love having access to my files and resources anywhere I go. Once Google develops an app for my iPhone that does the same job as their app for the Android phone I will achieve “Cloud 9” happiness.
There are other tools that allow for cloud storage. I use a variety for different reasons. In addition to Google Drive I use iCloud from Apple and Dropbox from…well…Dropbox?
They each have their uses. The major use I put Dropbox to is files I want to share publicly and to test HTML5 experiments. Since Dropbox allows streaming I find myself using this feature quite a bit. They used to be 2GB but lately I believe they upgraded the service to 5GB. That or I paid to upgrade my service. If I did it has been worth it and if they upgraded the service for free then they have my gratitude.
I tend to use iCloud for more personal items and to back up my iPad and iPhone. The service has me covered even if I leave my computer at home since I can restore my iPhone from the iCloud storage. In fact both of these devices to this automatically. I also have an iTouch but I use that for students and have not connected it to my personal accounts as a privacy measure. Their max file size upload is 25MB or 250MB if you are paying (like I do). This could be an issue with some of my more nutty video experiments.
Google Drive is definitely my current go to. The large file upload of 10GB makes it a dream for certain insane projects that I plan to put together including a book I keep imagining that I am writing. You get 5GB of storage space for free but the upgrade was cheap so I took it up to 100 GB for $4.99 per month. There is a 25GB plan at $2.49 USD. Picasa connects with that plan and it bumps my personal gmail account up to 25GB as well. Something not mentioned much is that anything in Google Doc format or under a certain size gets in for free. Nice deal and with Google’s updated policies regarding the content (despite some people’s confusion) I feel my data is nice, safe, and easy to access.
Other tools like Skydrive and Box have a certain appeal but I find them less than useful. My students cannot afford the microsoft office suite and Box does not offer anything to make me want to go explore it in more detail.
Each cloud storage solution has an individual appeal for personal use.
For educational use I have to say that Google takes my votes. I understand many people are concerned about the terms and conditions. Especially the part where they scan your content and use it to serve advertisements. I tend to go with the feelings of students on this though: “What is privacy again?” – usually said in a joking manner. Think about it. We are on video almost constantly – especially at our schools. Privacy just does not exist in the way my parents may have envisioned the world. My wireless network is an easy target despite passwords and encryption because there is always a new hack out there and security lags a bit behind innovation. I do my best to maintain my network’s integrity but I have let go of my need to own my content. I am just happy if someone does something to benefit society with it.
According to Google’s Apps for Education they do not share that information outside of Google and there are no advertisements within the Education Apps environment. If students navigate to an Adwords laden website outside the apps environment I expect they will have their data used against them in the form of an advertisement geared towards the way they wrote that four paragraph essay on metamorphic rocks. *sigh* I can’t solve everything.
On the positive side Google Drive means more than just file syncing and storage – that storage links to a word processing program, presentation, drawing, spreadsheets, and other tools. In districts where the IT budget seems to thin when asked to provide students server space (Seriously – 50MB for a middle school student in one un-nameable location) Google Drive provides a seeming treasure trove of space. In a 1:1 school this seems great and in a school that is relying completely on cloud-based storage and not taking advantage of the syncing abilities of Drive – well….5GB of storage means I can actually assign students to create a small multi-media presentation without petitioning IT to expand a couple hundred student’s server space.
I digress and there are plenty of other arguments about which cloud storage medium is better. Check them out. Then get together a group of IT professionals, teachers, students, administrators and parents. Have this group play with each tool and review the terms of service. Give them a month of play time. Maybe all of June. Reconvene in July – take notes – give everyone equal weight – and make a decision. Don’t let the IT or teacher groups dominate the discussion – they will have opinions and honestly this tool should reflect student use in your district (right? They are the reason we are here).