Question 186 of 365: How should we submit our work?

Question 186 of 365: How should we submit our work?

Image representing Dropbox as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

I think a lot about the submit button. The process of taking something that you own and uploading it to someone else is an act of trust. I am trusting that everything that I submit to Flickr will be there when I look for it, without some crazy provisions or copyright license on it. I am trusting that the presentations I upload to Slideshare will be embeddable wherever I want them to be. Whenever I submit an assignment in an online course, I am trusting that it will be valued by the person on the other end and not just put into a virtual file cabinet to make one more check on a class checklist.

This trust isn’t something that we should take lightly or that we should let rest as it is. There is inherently a problem with turning over your work to something else via a button. The transaction method of turning things in is all wrong. When we have to turn over all authority of the things we have authored, we are no longer able to take responsibility for where they end up. And we should be able to do that. We should be always able to make decisions about our content, continuing to extend its existence wi every link and collaboration.

I want to start making Dropbox the standard for submitting. The very idea of dropping your content into a folder on your desktop and having that sync into a space that other people and services have access to is he future of sharing. Removing content or revising it updates the files everywhere that they are referenced, preserving your control and your ability to revise and continue to come back to where you have already been without recreating or storing every ne version on every different service that comes into existence.

I want to turn in assignments by dropping files onto my desktop and revise my answers with a simple save. I want to share them with everyone else who is in my class and have the facilitator see that sharing as well. I want to have photo sharing sites get access to my collection through a sync from my computer. I want to always maintain the copies but know that they exist and are accessible easily.

The possibilities for creating are simple and elegant when you remove the pressure of the submit button. When you no longer have to wait until something is good enough to start syncing it our to the world, collaboration has the ability to take hold of everything that you do. When you don’t have to be connected to the web in order to check in on what other people have contributed, we aren’t tethered to any device or service. Sharing ownership of our work and also being able to continue to expand its use is the next journey that we must attempt.

This is the workflow I see:

Any file that is on your device is on the cloud is also shared with others and is found on other’s hard drives. The redundancy allows for backup after backup of our work. All of these drives and versions are networked and allow us to see as a work progresses because a visualization of all edits across the world will be a part of the metadata of the file itself. Each file will be editable on all devices either by a local program or a cloud based service. The file will not care which. Microsoft word and Google Docs will simply be the way we revise the much more powerful part of this process: the sharing. Each file will become linked and embeddable. And because of the way all of these hard drives are networked, the file will not be embedded just from the cloud service, but it will also be embedded from the original source (your device). This will mean that we will always be able to track where content has come from and where it goes to. The single source of truth will be the person that created it, and if they delete it, all that will be left will be the remixes and revisions that work under fair use.

None of this will happen if we keep on with the submit button as the only way to share (this button takes many forms, but it is the function that I think is going to hold us back). We need to move toward sharing responsibility for our files and our ideas. We need to submit by moving things around on our devices and not just on the services that seem to come and go every few weeks. We need share via a link that will always exist, instead of break with every whim of a few shareholders. The infrastructure isn’t what needs a tweak. It is us. We need to push what our own devices can do and what we are willing to pay for as well. We need to become our own data centers and wharehouses. We need to become our own cloud, all with the idea that Google or someone else will also have backups of our stuff too. Because you know they will.

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  1. Two things:
    1) My online-master's courses are through WebCT. I've luckily been able to avoid WebCT up to this point. I hate it. I hate its design, I hate its multiple pop-up windows, I hate its generic look and feel and the impersonality of it all. For Facebook's ills, I log in to my account and feel like it is, in fact, a space I've decorated. Not so with WebCT. In turning in my first assignment, I had to use the course dropbox. Only, the course dropbox has about three failsafe clicks involved. I only noted the one. My file was uploaded, but not turned in. I had to write a note to my “learning specialist” that I'd uploaded the file on time, but turned it in late because I'd missed the extra clicks. Troubling again was the WARNING message that anything I turned in could not be edited once it was up. What the what? I guess that learning was completed. No need to augment that knowledge at a later date.
    My feedback will likely be however many points the assignment earns. I don't learn this way.

    2) I see the workflow you're describing, and I want to play in it. At the same time, I think of Jimmy, an eighth grader I taught a few years ago. Jimmy's locker, bookbag and pockets were their own personal black holes. Whatever went in hardly ever came out. The kid was an organizational train wreck. He couldn't process or handle having so many places to put his stuff. I wonder if the workflow you describe would harm or help Jimmy. Multiple places, multiple access points, multiple versions with viewable revisions. I love it. Jimmy's head might explode. The caveat I'd make to the proposal is, “Or, you can make it as simple as you'd like.” Options are great, so long as one of them is fewer options.

  2. Yeah.

    So, I want my workflow and I want the ability to turn in a notebook of
    scrawled drawings. I want those to be equal.

    WebCT's entire goal is to make the student and the teacher as
    irrelivent as possible. The content exists and the objects to be
    turned in exist. That is all that matters. The people in the equasion
    just gum up the works. The teacher wants to change the content and to
    create experiences. The student wants to create something that wasn't
    there before. Neither of those are possible when you box up learning.

    I wrote a song a few years ago about Traditional Chinese marriage for
    a class in college. It was one of the best songs I ever wrote. It was
    called Boxed up. The last few lines were these:

    You say, “China's not like this now.”
    You are right, but my point you are without.
    Girl's are still prescribed their own lives.
    This boxed world is not right.

    You change China to Schools and Girls to Learners and I think it
    describes both the direction and the current state that both online
    and brick and mortar schools find themselves in.

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