DR. TECH: Get your thoughts into the box

Dr. Jon Dorbolo Ask Dr. Tech

To succeed in higher education you must think outside of the box and doing so proficiently in the 21st century requires being able to create and access all of your work anytime, anywhere.

OSU’s latest cloud-based enterprise tool – Box – lets you liberate your content from the constraints of time, space and device.

I believe that Box is a major game-changer for all of us when it comes to creating, managing, and sharing our work.

Since you may want to get right into it, you will find Box at-http://box.oregonstate.edu.

In order to explore the Box environment and where it is headed at OSU I spoke with Shayne Huddleston, Senior IT Architecture Strategist for Information Services.

Huddleston is known as an “architect” because he thinks about the design and structure of shared information environments’ at OSU this environment has come to be called the teaching and learning ecosystem.

Huddleston asserts that a key value in bringing Box to OSU was flexibility for users; “We don’t want to tell you what productivity tools to use. We want to support a variety of content development choices by providing a strong sharing and security infrastructure.  That’s what Box brings to OSU.”

Box supports more than 200 file types and is a document management environment that is free to all ONID users, synchs to all of your devices and has unlimited capacity.

Let me emphasize that last point – unlimited capacity, no upper limit – store a gigabyte or a terabyte or 100 terabytes.

The unlimited storage capacity is a major change for those of us who regularly bumped our heads on quota caps in Blackboard and other applications from our recent past.

OSU Box currently has a 15 gigabyte file size limit for upload, though there is no limit to how much data you can store there. If you have files larger than 15 gigabytes there is an FTP server available – check with Service Desk for help.

Store all of your data from various devices in your personal Box account and you may create group Box accounts for collaboration.

You may edit documents from within Box, such as opening an Excel file or Google Sheet and Box works seamlessly with both OSU Google Apps and Office365.

A great way to start with Box is by downloading Box Synch to your desktop and laptop then move your file directories to it.

Presto your files will be accessible to you anywhere and will be updated consistently no matter where you are and no matter what device you are using.

Are you in class and left your assignment at home? No worries as it is just a few clicks away.

Are you at Shasta and lost track of when your assignments are due? Use the Box phone app to open your course syllabus.

Are you at the airport with time to work on the budget? Power up, log-on and get at it.

Numerous Box apps are available for mobile devices.

One app to consider is Box Capture which turns your mobile device into a portable scanner/recorder and passes the output directly to Box.

This allows you to manage photos, videos, audio recordings, document scans (use the camera) all seamlessly in the cloud for later use on any of your devices and shareable with others.

The very tech savvy among us will be interested to know that you may manage metadata across files in Box and develop apps to work with the API to perform functions on the data.

Learn to use Box effectively and your time saved may be considerable.

Box integration with Canvas is underway and you may expect future announcements about those capabilities.

I asked Huddleston whether cloud storage is really a safe way to keep files that we just can’t lose.

He answered; “Box has a high durability and redundancy strategy with the highest probability restore options.

The odds that you will lose data from your hard drive and flash drive is much greater than with the cloud.”

The reason for this is that Box makes copies of all of the files within it and keeps at least 3 copies of all data in separate undisclosed locations.

This is strong strategy to secure data and it also raises an important point: do not put anything into Box that violates OSU Acceptable use policy, the terms of which may be found on the OSU Box site.

Researchers, instructors and staff take note: It is not acceptable to store “Protected Information” such as credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, tax records and classified research data in Box. Check the restrictions before adding any identifiable data.

Students may use Box for all of their scholastic activities and will doubtless find applications that the rest of us have not envisioned.

Instructors may create class-clouds to which they add learners who may access course resources on their devices in class.  Instructors will appreciate that they may access usage statistics for shared files such as who viewed a file and when it was downloaded.

Researchers may use Box as a secure and scalable storage area with tight controls over sharing.

Departments and staff may use Box for curating and collaborating on working documents.

When you leave OSU your Box account remains active for 2 terms after which it will revert to a 50 gigabyte free account.  You may choose to purchase a Box account to keep it going or download your data.

The really good news is that no matter how much data over 50 gigabytes is in your Box account, it will remain available to you long after you leave OSU. You just won’t be able to add more until you pay for the space. In other words, data loss is not an issue.

To get started go on any of your devices to http://box.oregonstate.edu and select the “Sign In To Box” button using your ONID name and password.

For help with Box functionality check with Service Desk at http://is.oregonstate.edu/service-desk, on the phone at 541-737-8787 and on campus at 201 Milne.

Most important is your voice in how Box works for you and what functionality will make it even better. Send your ideas and comments about OSU Box to me at [email protected] and I’ll make sure your voice is heard by people who will listen and respond.

Check out Box at http://box.oregonstate.edu and make sure to watch the “Oregon State Launches Box” video for a quick and smart overview.

The opinions expressed in Dr. Tech’s column do not necessarily reflect those of the Baro’s staff. 

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