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How Filr helps me supervise my pupils’ work



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November 19, 2013 2:31 pm

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How Filr can benefit Teachers and Pupils

Background

I look after the IT setup at a school for 13 -18 year old pupils. Almost all our desktop PCs run Windows. In September 2013, I installed Filr. The reasons were to provide:

  1. Improved access to files for pupils and teachers from home
  2. Access to files via a wider range of devices: tablets, Mac laptops, etc.
  3. A better way for administrative staff to share files with people outside our organisation

Filr does a good job in this area. I thought my job was done, until I dug deeper and struck gold!

My problem

I also teach Computing. One of my classes follows the iGCSE Computing course , a 16+ qualification. This term, we have been working on the computer project, where the pupils have to create a computer program to solve a problem.

The first half of term is spent on the technical solution, the second on the documentation which is what is actually marked. It provides 20% of the final grade and is a long document. Getting good quality, comprehensive documents from pupils requires tight teacher control and lots of reviews and checks.

Tools available to me

With my IT hat on, I like our VLE. It’s well behaved, easy to use and needs little maintenance.

As a teacher, I really don’t use it, especially for the task described above. My reason is very simple. Pupils work on school PCs and/or at home and/or on a laptop so they have a version of the write up on their school filespace, at home and most likely on their laptop as well.

I ask for chapter one. They upload it to the VLE; that’s another copy.

I then have to download it to my classroom PC and, most likely to my PC at home and/or laptop: more copies.

I mark it in a word processor and return it with suggestions for improvement: another copy. I ask for chapter two and the improvements to chapter one. This will repeat for all six chapters.

Question: how many copies of the file exist by the end of the process? What can go wrong? Is this the best that IT can offer a teacher?

So where’s the gold?

This is what Filr lets us do:

  1. Pupils share the files from their filespace with me as an editor using Filr.
  2. I subscribe to these files, so I get an email when some work is done.
  3. I install the desktop application at home and/or on laptop (Windows or Mac) and synchronise Files Shared with Me.
  4. Pupils install the desktop application at home and/or on laptop (Windows or Mac) and synchronise Home or a folder containing the file.

filrSystem

Now, though there are several copies of the pupil’s file, it is effectively a SINGLE copy. Think of it as a virtual file. This is what now happens:

  1. Pupil edits the file, I am informed, I see the edited file wherever I look.
  2. I review the file, add comments. Pupil is informed and sees my comments wherever they look at the file.
  3. File synchronises in the background. We can even work off-line. File synchronises when back on-line.

Even better

Instead of doing this with a file, do it with folders:

  1. One of mine is shared with the pupils, to which pupils subscribe; it contains copies of notes, tasks and resources and links to resources.
  2. One for each pupil is shared with me, to which I subscribe; it contains their work.

This means:

  1. Pupils have up-to-date access to the course resources. I don’t need to upload them.
  2. I have up-to-date access to pupils’ work; they don’t need to upload them.

What are the benefits?

Me as a teacher: I have a better VLE, at least with regards to sharing files, which, really, is the main function of a VLE.

Me as IT manager: Only the file server needs to be backed up; all the other copies can be re-synchronised or recreated.

CJD

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Categories: File & Networking Services, Filr, Technical

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Disclaimer: This content is not supported by Novell. It was contributed by a community member and is published "as is." It seems to have worked for at least one person, and might work for you. But please be sure to test it thoroughly before using it in a production environment.

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