Hopefully by now you already have a Dropbox account. Even if you do not have an iPad, Dropbox is an invaluable tool for teachers (especially if you have a work computer and a home computer, or a desktop and a laptop). If you don't already have it, use this link to sign up and install it on your PC or Mac and then come back to this post once you are done that step.
Okay, so you have a Dropbox account now? Good. Let me show you some of the advanced ways to use it in a classroom (especially if you have an iPad).
The first thing you should do if given an iPad for your classroom is to install the free Dropbox app. This app is really well designed. It lets you browse through your files and folders, preview almost any document type (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, PDF, images, videos, etc.), open the document in a different app (such as opening a PowerPoint presentationn in Keynote), and so on.
Another cool thing that the Dropbox app will do is automatically upload your iPad photos and videos to a Dropbox folder (called “Camera Uploads”). This is great for having a backup of your camera roll and also easily and quickly transferring photos to your desktop or laptop without using a cable (since your Dropbox folders sync automatically).
A lot of popular classroom apps sync with Dropbox as well. In my class we use neu.annotate to mark up PDF worksheets. It also allows you to save your marked-up sheets to your Dropbox. If I need to scan a piece of paper as a PDF, I take a picture of it using Worldscan. It then saves my PDF to Dropbox. It is not hard to find apps that include this feature.
There are also various Dropbox plugins that can add convenient features. For example, DropItToMe lets students or other teachers deposit files into your Dropbox without having actual access to any of the folders, and SendToDropbox allows students to email you assignments (documents, videos, pictures, Keynote presentations, whatever) and their submission will be put directly into a Dropbox folder. Cool stuff.
There are two other apps I want to point out that make using Dropbox a bit more convenient on an iPad. The first is CloudOn, which is available for free. CloudOn lets you link your Dropbox (or Skydrive, Google Drive, or Box.net) accounts and then edit the original files directly from your iPad.
This is beneficial because using the normal Dropbox app only allows you to view your files or open copies of them into another app. That means if you load a Word document in Pages and then edit it, the original copy in your Dropbox or on your home computer will remain unchanged. With CloudOn, you edit the original directly and the changes sync across all your devices.
But what about documents or presentations that you make in iWorks (Pages, Keynote, and Numbers) on your iPad? Regrettably, Apple does not currently allow you to save these documents directly to Dropbox. You need to use a little workaround to give yourself that option.
That workaround is called iSMEStorage ($4.99). First, install this app, set up an account, and link it to your Dropbox (and Skydrive, Google Drive, etc).
Next, go into Pages, Keynote, or Numbers, click the wrench in the top right corner, and hit “Share and Print”. It should bring a menu that looks like this:
You can now browse your Dropbox folders and save copies of your iWorks documents directly into the Dropbox. You can also open them via the WebDAV, but that is less critical.
Other cloud storage services and apps are also useful, including SkyDrive, Box.net, and Google Drive (remember that some require a PC/Mac install before the app will do any good). I use Dropbox for all my school/work documents and then use SkyDrive for my personal documents and photos. This helps me keep my work and home separate and also spread out the storage requirements across multiple services. But Dropbox is the best and most fully featured of all the options.