inside-the-box

“How do I easily and quickly share files with my students in a seminar setting?”

As the faculty technology liaison for Arts and Sciences, this is the most common question put to me over the first few weeks of the fall 2015 semester. There a a lot of possible answers to this question, but the one people are most attracted to is UA+Box. UA+Box is a really flexible tool that you can put to use in your courses. (It probably works best in small courses or seminars, though.) And if ODS asks for a note-taker in your course, you need UA+Box!

While I am talking about a cloud-based file storage tool, please know that UA+Box is not Dropbox! (Think of it as “Dropbox 2.0,” if you wish). You sign up for and sign into UA+Box by using your regular myBama credentials. This is awesome, because you don’t need to create another profile or learn another password! And there is an easy guide to get started along with a simple UA+Box FAQ created by UA’s Faculty Resource Center.

This company has been shaking up the cloud-based storage scene over the last few years and has customized its tool for use in higher education. The Box user guide can take you through the all the ins and outs, but I want to mention a few noteworthy ways to use Box:

  • Make readings available to your students. You can send your students a link that is governed by your own customized sharing permissions so that students can only view or download the files. Nobody but you can add or delete them!
  • Have students upload assignments. You can actually create and send your students an upload link to their emails. They can only upload files, and they cannot view or download anything.
  • Have students collaborate in creating content. You can share a folder with a group such that anyone can add files to it and see what others have added, too.
  • Distribute course notes, podcasts, slides, or any other material for your class that can be digitized.

For all of these features, you can set up notifications so that you know when others are accessing the Box account. Notifications are useful if you want to do any of the following:

  • Set a due date.
  • Determine whether students have done their readings, or accessed the files.
  • Know how frequently students are actively using your materials.

UA+Box seems to be easy compared to several other options available to UA faculty, but as with any online tool, you need to do some menu navigation. If you have used folders on your personal computer, you then have a basic idea of how it works. For example, here are the many options you have for organizing collaboration within a folder:

Annotated Box Folder Setting

In other words, there are a ton of ways to think about teaching inside the UA+Box!

Are you already using UA+Box? What do you do with it?


Nathan Loewen is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies and Faculty Technology Liaison for the College of Arts & Sciences

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