I read about SubmitBox in a comment on a blog and figured I’d check it out. It basically gives you online space for your students to upload their assignments which then syncs directly to your Dropbox account. The advantage, as its demo video points out (at bottom of the home page linked above and embedded below), is that there is no longer any uploading and downloading of assignments by you; students upload to the web site and the web site automatically puts the files in a SubmitBox folder in your Dropbox folder. This folder of course is then synced among all devices and computers and students get feedback as soon as you grade the assignment (again, because of the syncing).

This has potential for a number of reasons. I like the no uploading or downloading feature. That indeed can be a pain. ItsLearning’s bulk download of assignments takes care of one end of this process, but the corrected versions still need to be uploaded individually. I do it, but it might be nice not to have to. More important, I used Dropbox’s shared folders for collecting assignments during the iPad pilot and it was indeed easy and nice to have assignments right there. My concern was the public nature of those folders, that students had access to other students’ folders. I didn’t mind this for small assignments but I wouldn’t want to risk larger, paper-type assignments this way. SubmitBox’s approach seems to address this (minor) security concern.

Some questions I have about SubmitBox:

  • Is the SubmitBox folder in my Dropbox folder a live / open folder, i.e. can I put things in there for a student that they didn’t put there themselves? Or can I only edit / see what they themselves submit? (Sometimes for papers, I like to keep an original version and have a separate corrected version.)
  • In the intro video, mention of notifications was made, but I didn’t see anything about this in the sign up process or on the account page. Obviously Dropbox includes notifications, but I wonder if there are separate SubmitBox notifications or if the video was referring to the Dropbox notifications.

Independent of SubmitBox, Dropbox is nice for collecting assignments because of the column view and preview feature on Macs. For those smaller assignments that I did collect through Dropbox, on which I wasn’t really going to make any comments, I could just navigate to the folder in column view, hit the space bar, and get a quick preview of the assignment without having to open it Word.

So I’ve signed up for SubmitBox and actually will pilot it with my final Classical Lit paper of the year. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Here’s the intro video from the webpage: