How to allow students to electronically submit work?
January 11, 2011 11:30 AM   Subscribe

Please help me collect in my students digital work. I occasionally teach lessons in computer suites where students produce files that I would like to collect in to assess. However, the normal options (email, shared space etc) are not an option.

A number of students (between 15 and 30) typically produce microsoft office files (powerpoint and word) with a file size of generally less than a couple of MB. I need a simple method for them to get the files to me.

1. They have access to the internet.

2. They don't have email - nor do they have access to sites to set up email accounts.

2. Athough the computers are networked there is no mechanism for a shared space to be available.

3. There are too many students to pass a memory stick around.

4. I host a wordpress based webpage in case there is a plugin anyone knows of that could be useful?

I can imagine a situation where they all visit a link, where there is a prompt to upload a file which I can then access. I am not concerned with them logging into the space to upload the file - I trust them to name the files accurately.

I would also like to be able to disable the upload page when the lesson is over - to prevent random files being sent to me when they get home!

Any ideas would be superb thanks.
posted by Morsey to Computers & Internet (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Can you set up an FTP on your webspace, that they can then access with a class login and password that you can change after each class?

Most browsers will let you access FTP by plugging into the navigation bar.
posted by headspace at 11:35 AM on January 11, 2011

I meant, can you set up an FTP folder. *facepalm*
posted by headspace at 11:36 AM on January 11, 2011

It seems like something like would work. There are many ways to set up folders ... public, private, etc ... I'm just not sure if you can set up permissions such that your students could drop their files in a folder but be unable to view/download other students' files. It may be worth checking out.
posted by iguanapolitico at 11:46 AM on January 11, 2011 or would allow you to do what you want.
posted by Gerard Sorme at 11:50 AM on January 11, 2011

Perhaps something like would work for you.
posted by MighstAllCruckingFighty at 11:58 AM on January 11, 2011

I don't think Dropbox et al will let you sign up without an email address. FTP would definitely be a good way to go. That's what we used to share files in the Stone Age when I was in school.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 12:00 PM on January 11, 2011

I would have suggested Dropbox in my answer above, but I don't think it would work well for your students needing to upload things back to you.
posted by Gerard Sorme at 12:30 PM on January 11, 2011

Require students to buy usb keys and then to hand those in. Copy the files and then return the keys.
posted by JJ86 at 12:41 PM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

An FTP site sounds good, but you could also try a free service like YouSendIt. I use it a lot for random work things; it's basically a person-to-person file transfer that helps you avoid inbox clogging with large files.

Basically, you just upload a file through YSI and enter an email address (and short message). YSI sends the intended recipient an email with a link; click the link and the recipient can download the file. Files stay live (downloadable) for 7 days; after that you can see when they were sent, but not access them.

YSI also sends a confirmation email to the person sending the file when the file is uploaded properly--nice for students when wondering if their email went through, and nice for you when students try to tell you their email got lost in the great internet void.

The only downside is that with the free account, senders can only send 1 file (100MB or under) at a time. However, zip files count as 1 file, so if your students have a PPT + Word docs to send in, they can just zip them into a folder and send that. (There's no cap on how many files you can receive as part of the free account.)

I find it pretty easy and reliable, even for non-computer-savvy personnel in my office.
posted by alleycat01 at 1:44 PM on January 11, 2011

DropBox would be fine if you were to create an account for the students to share, and then share one of your own folders with that account. Then just give everyone in your class a link and the login info, and reset the password after the submission deadline or whatever.
posted by christopherious at 3:09 PM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm ridiculous--I completely did not see the "no email" rule! Sorry.
posted by alleycat01 at 3:15 PM on January 11, 2011

can you set up an email account (or accounts plural) that they can use to login to google docs?
posted by at at 4:33 PM on January 11, 2011

If you use DropBox and everyone has access to the same account you would have to watch and make sure no one was tampering with each others' files. But the upside would be that you could install the DropBox app on your own computer which would make accessing the files really easy for you.

I was in a class where we were working with really big files so the teacher had us all go up one by one and copy our stuff onto his computer.
posted by amethysts at 5:31 PM on January 11, 2011

Came her to say what JJ86 said. Just tell them they have to buy a USB stick. They're very cheap, especially at the size they need. If they find that an imposition, buy a bunch of cheap USB sticks and retail them to students at cost.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 5:44 PM on January 11, 2011

1. They have access to the internet.
2. They don't have email - nor do they have access to sites to set up email accounts.

I'm trying to envision a situation where both these statements apply in an educational setting. Are you teaching these classes in a prison?
posted by Joleta at 8:20 PM on January 11, 2011

Not trying to be sarcastic, but a genuine question
Are you teaching at a prison or some kind of a restricted environment?

If they have internet, then they can create email accounts and this seems to be the easiest way to solve the problem.
posted by WizKid at 9:49 AM on January 12, 2011

Response by poster: I'm teaching in a school in the UK. Different schools have different levels of restriction, mine has gone for the "lock everything useful down" approach (no YouTube, email sites, forums or any sort of site you can communicate with - for staff as well as students).

FTP seems to be the winner in absence of email - have yet to try, but I think it should work well.
posted by Morsey at 11:45 AM on January 15, 2011

I actually work for a company called FilesAnywhere. It has been around since 1999 and offers tons of features that sound like you could make much use of

You can use FTP, Dropbox for your students, and you can even create users (your students) that can access specified folders that you can set permissions on. There's a lot more to it as well, but if you want to sign up, feel free to message me with any questions.

Our service is located at

Contact me and I can provide you with a discount.
posted by AdamBlue at 9:15 AM on January 18, 2011

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