Category Archives: Technology

Using DropBox ‘File request’ for collecting homework

I just started experimenting with this new way of digitally collecting  homework from my students. It eases the collection process, saves on emails and file management, and, in a word, it saves me a bit of time :)

So far, the homework submission process looked like this:

  • homework received by email
  • responde to email to acknowledge receipt
  • copy homework file into adequate folder, depending on level, etc.
  • rename homework to something identifiable
  • file away both sent and received emails
  • repeat all of the above each time a student submits work
  • once all have submitted, mark homework

This was a little long and created countless interruptions in my daily work, and of course took a lot of my time.

Luckily, DropBox (referring link) has recently introduced a feature called ‘file request’, which can be used to ease the process above. The idea is to have the homework going straight to the right folder in your DropBox, and by extension on your hard drive, without using email. This used to be possible with a third party DropBox plug-in called DropItToMe, but this wasn’t really working well enough in my opinion. Now, the official DropBox feature seems to do the job just right.

So, here’s how you set it up:

On your DropBox web account page, look out for the ‘File request’ feature on the left.

DropBox file request





Open it, click on the large ‘Request files’ icon, and fill in the information requested:

Creating a file request







Choose which folder you would like the homework to go to, what you would like to call it (e.g. Beginners’ French homework submission), and, as I am discovering as I type this, you can add a deadline. Handy.

Click next and you will be presented with a web link, which you’ll need to share with your students. I chose to paste this link onto our VLE, with instructions explaining how students should name their files:

Screen Shot 2015-10-01 at 13.09.47




That’s, it, you’re all set up. Students will be able to submit their work using the link on the VLE, and the homework will simply appear on you hard drive, in the folder you chose (provided you are running the DropBox client on your computer, which I assume you are).

The only downside so far, for me anyway, is that you still get a notification email every time someone submits work. This cannot be turned off. A workaround is to create an inbox rule in your webmail or client to filter or delete incoming notifications.

Also, I imagine some of you may be using TurnItIn already, in which case this tip would be redundant. I think there are pros and cons to each method, but hopefully this one can suit some of you :)


“You should blog about that”

That’s what someone said to me yesterday, and I think it’s very good advice.

As you might have guessed from the small number of blog posts I’ve put out in the last couple of years, I can’t always think of things to blog about. Or more accurately, I rarely think that the things I do or talk about over lunch are worth blogging about. And so yesterday, over lunch, I was describing to someone (if you need to know, it was @eljeejavier) a clever little app I’ve been using this semester to save myself a few precious minutes with handling audio recordings. “You should blog about that” was the answer. I think that’s a good answer. I like it. I am going to blog about that.

Things to blog about

In fact, when I think about it, there are a number of small things, tech tips for the most part, which I think I could blog about. I’ve made a quick list off the top of my head and that makes three potential blog posts to write already. Sounds like a good start, doesn’t it?

I might give a name to this series of blog posts. I think I’m going to call it “Teacher Tech Tip”. It’s hard to pronounce but it has three Ts in it, which makes it a bit catchy.

You can expect the first post soonish.

Talking about Quizlet at #LLASconf14

So the 7th LLAS biennal conference took place last week in Southampton, and just like last time it was a really good opportunity to meet people I knew and people I didn’t, all working in, near or around languages in HE. I can’t get bored of attending LLAS events as they really help putting my job in perspective: I get to see the national picture, discover what other practitioners are up to, get feedback on my own practice through the stuff I present. If you work in languages and have never attended one of these, I urge you to register for the next one. It’s the second best medium for professional development I have found (second only to Twitter, of course).

So this year again I talked about the work that the French team at @UoMLangCentre have been doing with Quizlet on our general and medical French courses. I should really give credit to @simonjhowells77 for pointing us in the direction of Quizlet in the first place. If you have read my previous blog post, Quizlet is an vocabulary app which we’ve been using for collaborative work in the classroom.

The slides are below. If you’ve any questions or comments, please use the box below.