Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Drop.io dropped dead!

MediaFire - Free File Hosting Made Simple
I've gushed about the Drop.io service for a while to my colleagues and in another blog.  I was actually getting ready to gush about it here, now that I've had some time to use it and be more specific about ways to use it for teaching and learning.

It was a great service for educators, allowing us to post large media files (podcasts, slide presentations, images, videos) in password protected "drops."  But as of mid-December 2010, drop.io is dead!

As I've lamented before, the downside of using third-party (meaning not you) software and websites to build resources for teaching and learning is that sometimes they change drastically or disappear completely with no warning.  Leaving one up the proverbial creek.

Apparently, the founder of Drop.io got a better offer from Facebook, which also bought the rights to the Drop.io technology.  Pulling the rug out from under the rest of us.  They couldn't have known the drop-dead date is two days before the end of my semester. But it is . . . and so what do I do now?

Unlike many other services, who recommend clients to another service, Drop.io declined to do that.  Perhaps they were obligated by contract (is Facebook planning to unveil their own version of Drop.io?).  They even disabled the comment feature on their blog, so stranded users cannot share with each other possible solutions. I cannot wait for the next incarnation, if that's what's planned, because my students need access to files now.

The solution I found, at least for now his Mediafire. This is a similar "drop" site.I've just started using it and because it is organized in a different way than I am used to, it is taking some time to become familiar with all of the possibilities. But I wanted to post this option now so that others who are stranded can find a place to land quickly.

Mediafire is a free service that allows you to upload files, even very large files, into folders that can be private or that can be shared publicly. The public folders may contain files that are password-protected. This is very useful to me because I have files that include images and other materials that I have permission to use in my course but do not have permission to distribute publicly. The password protection allows me to post the files for my students in a way that prevents others from accessing them.

I found that the uploading process in Mediafire is much simpler than it was in Drop.io. Organizing my files into groups is also easier. Because I have a very large collection of files to post, I've opted for the "pro" upgrade. There is a small charge for this upgrade. But it also comes with some very handy features, such as the ability to create a custom URL for each folder. Thus, I can use one URL for one course and a different URL for another course. That prevents students from getting mixed up and using the wrong files.

On the other hand, there were some nifty features in Drop.io that I have not yet been able to find in Mediafire.

So I'm really glad to have another place to drop files for my students. If you are looking for a Drop.io alternative, you may want to check out Mediafire.

If any of you have some experience using Mediafire, I'd love to hear from you. or if you have some other drop sites that you have been using an education, let us know about those.

If you want to see how it works, go to http://www.mediafire.com/TheElectronicProf and see what I've posted for you there.  To download a file, you must use the password JohnDewey  (FYI, passwords are attached to files--not folders--so you can have some files that are password-protected and some files that are not).

Want to take a quick tour of Mediafire? Try this video.