Many instructors use the Dropbox tool so students can turn in their papers electronically. Dropbox folders can be set up by the instructor so feedback is available to the student and assigned grades move directly to the gradebook. Student papers for an entire assignment can be downloaded easily so instructors can read them off line.
To create a Dropbox folder:
A dropbox folder must be created for each assignment. To create a folder click on the Dropbox link from the course navbar. Click on New Folder and add the appropriate folder information. The Folder name should reflect the assignment, e.g., Midterm Paper, or Reflection Paper 4. Add a Category if desired. If you want this folder tied to an item in the gradebook select the gradebook item from the drop-down options or click on Add Grade Item and create the item (this will add a scoreable column in the gradebook for the dropbox folder). Add Custom Instructions for the students. Custom Instructions shouldn’t duplicate the detailed instructions students already have but it should briefly describe the assignment. In the Restrictions tab, add dates to restrict student access to the folder (optional). Be sure to put checks by the dates you assign or they won’t be enforced. When you’re finished click the Submit button.
File types suitable for the Dropbox:
Some file types simply don’t work in the Dropbox. Microsoft Works (*.wps files) files are the worst because our current version of Word does not open earlier versions of Works files. Instructors should insist that all word processed files be either Word (*.doc) or Rich Text Format (*.rtf) files. Students who don’t have access to MS Word should be instructed to do a Save As in whatever application they use and select the Rich Text format. RTF files can be opened in Word and most other word processors.
If the instructor receives a Works document from a student they should ask the student to resubmit the paper in a RFT format as described above. If that isn’t practical, contact the LTC and we’ll see what we can do.
To change a dropbox folder, including dates:
To change (edit) a dropbox folder click on the drop-down arrow next to the folder name and select the Edit button – it looks like a pencil. Change whatever information is needed and click the Save button.
How students drop off assignments:
The procedure for students is fairly simple. (Note: these instructions are also available in a separate document for students.) Click on the Dropbox tool. Click on the folder for the assignment. Click Add a File. Click on the Browse button and navigate to your file. Make sure it’s the correct file and make sure it was saved after the last changes were made. Enter a description, if necessary. Click Upload and then click Submit on the previous screen. Walk through these steps yourself by clicking the More Actionsbutton, then Preview from the drop-down menu.
To grade and/or leave feedback:
To grade student papers and leave feedback click on the Dropbox tool. Click on the link for the assignment folder. Click on the Leave Feedback link for the desired student paper. Click on the link for the student’s paper (or Right-click on the student’s paper and choose “open in new window.”). Return to the Dropbox window by closing the window with the student’s paper or using the Back button on the browser. Type a message in the Feedback area. If the Dropbox folder is linked to a grade item, enter the number of points for the paper and any under assessment. Click the Save button when finished.
To download student papers:
The instructor can download any or all of the student papers. To download papers click on the Dropbox tool and then the link for the assignment folder. Put checks by the papers you want to download. Note: if you want to select all the student papers lick on the check box at the top of the left column, immediately to the left of the Delete button. When the desired papers are selected click on the Download button. The student files will be combined into a single zipped file. Save this zipped file to your computer. To open the zip file double-click or right-click on the zip file and and select Open with Winzip. Winzip opens and lists the files. To extract the files click on the Extract button, select a location, and click Extract. All student papers are identified with the student’s name in the file name.
Notes on students resubmitting papers:
Students can return to a Dropbox folder and resubmit additional papers until the end date specified by the instructor. Additional papers, even if they have the same filename, do not replace the original file. All files dropped off by any student appear as a list and include the date and time the file was dropped off. The ability to submit multiple documents might seem a bit problematic but it allows the student to correct mistakes such as uploading the wrong file or uploading a file that didn’t have the latest changes saved. In any case, students have an opportunity to add their comments and plead their case. As always, how this is handled is up to the discretion of the instructor.