unclog your inbox: how students can submit assignments directly to a course @dropbox folder with @IFTTT

I hate our university’s course management system and have migrated to worpdress for courses. It does have one or two handy features, however,  one of which is that students can upload assignments to it directly so you no longer have to collect them in class or ask they be submitted via email.  To get around this, I started using If This Then That (IFTTT) to manage student homework submission. Using IFTTT allows me to have students submit their homework to a gmail account I set up for the class. IFFT then regularly scans this gmail account and downloads any attachments it finds to a dropbox subfolder (you can’t just have students upload to the folder directly by giving them access to it because the could see each other’s work —  a FERPA violation).  Step by step:
1) Sign up for IFTTT. Click on “channels” and make sure dropbox and gmail are live.
2) Set up a gmail account for your course, say coursename_number@gmail.com. Make sure you are logged into this account when you set up the rule below
3) Click on the recipe below. Leave everything as is and click “Use recipe”.
IFTTT Recipe: Save all your Gmail Attachments to Dropbox
4) You will need to go into your drop box folder, find the IFFT folder, and create a subfolder called  “Gmail Attachments” . If you’d rather use another name (say, “EcologyHomework”) you will need to edit the recipe so that it saves stuff in the right place.
5) test and wait. It took about an hour for the first assignments I mailed to trigger and download to dropbox.  Make sure students give the files a name that makes it easy to tell them apart, like “HW1_LASTNAME”.


Suggestions on other ways of incorporating it into research and teaching are welcome – I can imagine this is a great way to automatically upload data and photos from the field.  If people post research and teaching hacks using IFTTT I’ll collate and share.

So what do you think?

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