A Partial Possible Alternative to Legacy Course Files: Dropbox

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Finding a nice transitional file system that teachers can understand might be one of the main challenges of moving from Moodle 1.9 to 2.0.  The course files directory and how files are stored on your Moodle site has changed significantly from 1.9 to 2.0 which has created the challenge.  There is a very simple partial solution however, which I think provides a HUGE improvement over the original file system as it can be used, on certain sites (with certain specific characteristics) to create the ultimate situation for a hosted Moodle:

A Moodle that needs zero storage space.

“Wait, what?” you might ask.  Imagine if all of your files for your Moodle classroom were hosted in the cloud, but accessible from any computer on which the Dropbox desktop client was installed and synced.  Need to update your PPT presentation, Word document or replace an out of date PDF?  No problem, just modify the copy in your Dropbox folder and voila: instantly updated on your Moodle wherever linked as well.


  • Easy to setup
  • Auto syncing
  • Easy to access files
  • No need to edit resources over and over as files are updated

That said, there is one major downside to the simplest configuration of the Dropbox repository as described in the perfect intro video by Mary Cooch (@Moodlefairy)

which is embedded below and in the Moodle docs online [].  The Dropbox file repository works great as long as every editing teacher has access to the same Dropbox username and password.  So if I’m the administrator I can setup the Dropbox API Secret and Key (as highlighted in the video) but the account in which that Dropbox App is created (following the directions of the video) must be used to access the Dropbox course files by every other user as well.

It’s not make or break situation really…Think of it as your intranet folders, online.  A savvy administrator might just create a folder for each teacher using both Dropbox and Moodle and share those individual folders with the teachers’ personal Dropbox account (solving any synch issues, etc.).  But there is a measure of honor code required to ensure that Teacher A doesn’t delete or edit Teacher B’s files on the Dropbox.

The end result might look something like this within the Moodle file picker:

Better?  It might be.

2 Responses

  1. Great idea. I’ve been finding ways to host files/images outside of my Moodle site because when the courses are shared between sites some of the links break when I do a lot of internal linking within a course. It is kind of a pain though to have to go outside of Moodle to do this.

  2. Agreed, I’m still testing to see if the Dropbox solution will work for stuff like Articulate Presenter files (my guess is “no”).

    One word to the wise, whenever I use images online in courses or in quizzes I always upload them to my Flickr account. Keeps things simple when I backup/restore courses (and no broken images!).

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