OWL Tool - Dropbox

What is a Dropbox?

The Dropbox tool in OWL is a space within an OWL worksite for document storage and exchange between the instructor and each student. Each member of the site has an individual "dropbox". Each student can only see his or her own dropbox. The instructor can see all of the students' dropboxes.

What is the purpose of a Dropbox?

The Dropbox tool allows students and the course instructor to privately pass files to each other. 

How to use a Dropbox

Within your OWL worksite, enable the Dropbox tool using the 'Site Info' page and clicking on the 'Edit Tools' link. The Dropbox tool is added to the left side of your OWL worksite.  When activated through 'Edit Tools', each student in the worksite gets his or her own private dropbox. After entering the tool, instructors can access a particular student's dropbox if they wish to transfer documents with the particular student. Each student only sees his or her own individual dropbox. Using the Dropbox tool, students and instructors can upload files, create folders within the dropbox, add links to external pages, create HTML pages, create text documents, and create citation documents with the "Add" menu option, and edit details about the dropbox (and retrieve the site location link of an individual dropbox), download a .ZIP file of the folder's contents, and remove a dropbox folder with the "Actions" menu option. 

Tool Evaluation

Evaluated: October 2016

Functionality overall rating:3 starsFunctionality

Rating Rationale
Scale rating: 3 stars


The Dropbox Tool can be scaled to accommodate any size class with the flexibility to create smaller sub-groups or communities of practice

Ease of use rating: 3 stars

Ease of Use

The Dropbox Tool has a user-friendly interface that is easy to navigate and personalize

Tech Support/ Help Availability rating: 3 stars(green)

Tech Support/Help Availability

Western technical support/help documentation is readily available. See the Dropbox page in OWL Documentation Wiki or contact the Helpdesk

Hypermediality rating: 3 stars(green)


The Dropbox Tool allows users to communicate through different channels (audio, visual, textual) and allows for non-sequential, flexible/adaptive engagement with material

Accessibility overall rating: 1 starsAccessibility

Rating Rationale
AODA Friendly rating: 1 star

AODA Friendly

The Dropbox Tool has been identified as requiring programmatic updates to improve its accessibility. The documents shared through the Dropbox tool are only as accessible as they are made to be. Documents can be made more accessible by following these guidelines.

Assistive Technology rating: 3 stars

User-focused participation

Individual dropboxes are created for each student. In this way, the tool is designed to address the needs of diverse users, their various literacies, and capabilities, thereby widening opportunities for participation in learning

Required Equipment rating: 3 stars

Required Equipment

Proper use of the Dropbox Tool does not require specialized equipment

Technical overall rating:3 starsTechnical

Rating Rationale
Integration/Embedding within OWL rating: 3 stars

Integration/Embedding within OWL

The Dropbox Tool is native to OWL

Operating Systems rating: 3 stars

Operating Systems

Users can effectively utilize the Dropbox Tool with any standard, up-to-date operating system (i.e. Windows, OSX, etc.)

Web Browser rating: 3 stars

Web Browser

Users can effectively utilize the Dropbox Tool with any standard, up-to-date web browser (i.e. Safari, Google Chrome, Firefox, Explorer etc.)

Additional Technical Requirements rating: 3 stars

Additional Technical Requirements

Users do not need to download additional software or browser extensions

Mobile Design overall rating: 1 starMobile Design

Rating Rationale
Mobile Operating Systems rating: 3 stars

Mobile Operating Systems

The Dropbox Tool is accessible in OWL on all mobile devices through a browser. There is no native app for OWL, however you can access OWL through the WesternU app on both android and iOS devices

Mobile Functionality rating: 3 stars

Mobile Functionality

There is little to no functional difference with the Dropbox Tool when accessed on mobile systems

Offline Access rating: 1 star

Offline Access

The Dropbox Tool cannot be used in any capacity offline

Usage and account set up overall rating: 3 starsUsage and Account Set Up

Rating Rationale
Sign Up/Sign In rating: 3 stars

Sign Up/Sign In

Use of the Dropbox Tool does not require the creation of an external account or additional login beyond a Western Identity and access to OWL

Cost of Use rating: 3 stars

Cost of Use

All aspects of the Dropbox Tool can be used free of charge to Western account holders

Archiving Saving and Exporting Data rating: 3 stars

Archiving, Saving, and Exporting Data

Users can archive, save, or import and export content or activity data in a variety of formats

Data Privacy and Ownership rating: 3 stars

Data Privacy and Ownership

Users maintain ownership and copyright of their intellectual property/data; the user can keep data private and decide if/how data is to be shared

Social Presence overall rating: 2 stars Social Presence

Rating Rationale
Collaboration rating: 2 stars


The Dropbox tool has the capacity to support a community of learning through asynchronous but not synchronous opportunities for communication, interactivity, and transfer of meaning between users (specifically between instructor and student)

User Accountability rating: 3 stars

User Accountability

Instructors can control student anonymity; The Dropbox tool provides technical solutions for holding students accountable for their actions

Diffusion rating: 2 stars


Student familiarity with the Dropbox Tool is likely mixed, some will lack basic technical competence with its functions

Instructor Presence overall rating: 1 starsInstructor Presence

Rating Rationale
Facilitation rating: 3 stars


The Dropbox Tool has easy-to-use features that would significantly improve an instructor’s ability to be present with students via active management, monitoring, and engagement

Customization rating: 3 stars


The Dropbox Tool is adaptable to its environment: easily customized to suit the classroom context and targeted learning outcomes

Learning Analytics rating: 1 stars

Learning Analytics

There are no learning analytics available for the Dropbox tool

Cognitive Presence overall rating: 2 starsCognitive Presence

Rating Rationale
Enhancement of Cognitive Task(s) rating: 2 stars

Enhancement of Cognitive Task(s)

By the way in which the Dropbox Tool is designed to enable document sharing between instructor and student, the tool has the potential to support functional improvement to engagement in cognitive task(s)

Higher Order Thinking rating: N/A

Higher Order Thinking

As a document sharing tool, the Dropbox tool is not intended to directly engage students in higher order thinking skills

Feedback on Learning rating: 1 star

Feedback on Learning

By the way in which the Dropbox Tool is designed to enable document sharing between instructor and student, the tool has the potential to support processes for providing feedback to students

View the rubric for an explanation of this evaluation
Leave feedback to comment or request that the tool be re-reviewed

Related Information

Additional Resources