Options for file sharing, collaboration and transfer in connection with courses

Learning Outcomes

 With more work taking part online, and using digital tools, having access to various methods of file transfer, storage, and sharing becomes important. This report lists a few useful resources and considers applications.

Through consideration of these channels, teachers can help support students in tasks which include recording, sharing and collaborating.


Ways of working and activities

Email – in situation where file transfer is point to point and one way, and file size is relatively small (<=5MB), email is simple and convenient. It is a poor choice if multiple people should collaborate in or edit the file, however, and so should mostly be used only to transfer end products.

Moodle – moodle allows for much larger files (the actual limit depends on the admin at the university; up to 1GB at UTU) to be uploaded as part of assignments, instructions etc. This is already enough for almost any kind of audio task, and most shorter video assignments. Again, moodle is best suited for sharing finished productions, and not so well suited for active collaboration (compare to GoogleDocs)

Google documents – in my experience Google Drive is a reliable platform that students use to collaborate on things like scripts and reports. The fact that the latest iteration is immediately updated for all involved is an obvious benefit, and google also saves a revision history automatically. The ability for commenting makes it a good choice for shared, interactive reflective journals as well.  At least currently, I am not aware of another tool that is as versatile (comparing to Seafile, a cloud based storage service offered at UTU, for example)

https://filesender.funet.fi/ – When files get really large, for example longer, or hi-res videos, file sender (which all university staff and students have access to) becomes a useful tool to send files to one or multiple recipients.

Dreambroker – This video creation, editing and sharing platform has proven useful as a way to allow student teams access to their own teams’ videos recorded in class, for example. Videos stored on Dreambroker can be “published” into channels, to which you can specify access points to individuals or teams, allowing different forms of access.

It also features a screen recording capacity, as well as rudimentary video and audio editing (This one is not free, but I was offered to use it via the University, so they may have some kind of deal).

Vocaroo – This browser based audio recording tool is one I have suggested to students, since not all of them feel like or are able to install audio recording software or applications. It’s free and has a low skill threshold. The tool includes easy options to share or send the recorded work.

How are students supported?

With any of these tools, I make it clear that they can also ask for advice on how to use them, so enough knowledge of the system to be able to guide others is needed.

When observing teams working in class (or as I see them when I stroll around) I pay attention to what platforms they use, checking and offering advice if it seems something obvious is missed. Sometimes, if I do not recognize the platform, I enquire about it to see if it may be a better solution to some of the tools I already recommend.

What kind of feedback do students get as their work progresses on their own skills and the development of their skills?

In cases where students submit poorly recorded tasks, I do stress the importance of checking the product before sending it, and encouraging to take the time it need to set things up in a way that should ensure sufficient quality. Here, being familiar enough with audio and video recording is important, in order to be able to provide technical assistance. Another option is being able to recommend a source for helpful information.

How does it end? What happens next? How is the learning process and experience discussed and reflected upon?

In courses where reflection is part of the task, I do sometimes encourage students to consider how the technical tools affected the processes, and what extra preparations were needed to ensure a good result, as well as considering good solutions that they can return to in later tasks and courses.