Uio Dropbox

admin 11/23/2021

ICON (Iowa Courses Online) is the course management system at The University of Iowa. ICON is supported within Information Technology Services. Dropbox Basic makes it easy to securely send large files to anyone, and collaborate easily on the files you share. Shared links: Easily create a link for any file in your Dropbox that you can paste into an email, chat, or text. Recipients won’t need a Dropbox account—they can click the link to view and download the file.

Dropbox at U-M is a cloud file storage option that provides automatic backup and is readily accessible from any device.

Dropbox at U-M includes:

  • All of the core features (e.g., storage, anytime/anywhere access to files, secure sharing, and more).
  • Advanced data protection (e.g., version history and file recovery, advanced sharing permissions, password protection, granular permissions, and more).
  • Advanced collaboration and productivity tools (e.g., Dropbox Paper, file locking, commenting, Dropbox badge, and more).

For more information on Dropbox Team Folders at U-M, refer to the Dropbox Team Folders page.

U-M Dropbox is available with 5 TB of storage for individual accounts for all active faculty, staff, students, emeritus faculty, and sponsored affiliates at the Ann Arbor, Dearborn, Flint, and Michigan Medicine campuses.

Sensitive Data with Dropbox

Dropbox at U-M may be used with some types of sensitive university data, including Protected Health Information (PHI), according to the Sensitive Data Guide: Dropbox at U-M.

You and the university community have a shared responsibility to use U-M Dropbox appropriately with sensitive university data and take the necessary precautions.

Caution: Although storing and collaborating on documents containing PHI/HIPAA data in U-M Dropbox is allowed, caution needs to be taken when using the U-M Google or U-M Microsoft 365 integrations. Learn how to appropriately use these integrations if you are handling PHI, as neither service, U-M Google or U-M M365, is approved for use with PHI.
Note: Dropbox allows you to synchronize data in the cloud and on your devices. If you store and synchronize data in locations other than Dropbox cloud storage (i.e., local storage), you will also need to follow any sensitive data restrictions for the devices and storage locations to which you synchronize. Selective sync allows you to choose folders that are cloud-only. Refer to How to use Selective Sync in Dropbox for instructions on making any folders with sensitive data cloud-only. If you are interested in keeping everything online-only, refer to How to use Dropbox Smart Sync for more details.

What is Dropbox

Dropbox is a file hosting service that allows files and folders to be saved and shared through the cloud.

What is the purpose of Dropbox

The purpose of Dropbox is to allow access to files from any device through a secure login. Files can be uploaded to the Dropbox folder on one device (i.e. a desktop) and accessed on another device (i.e. a laptop). Users are also able to share folders or subfolders and their contents with others, if they enable file sharing.

How to use Dropbox

After creating an account with Dropbox, users can upload and access their Dropbox folder and files in one of three ways:

  1. through the Dropbox web application
  2. through the Installed Dropbox file integrated with their local device
  3. through the Dropbox mobile app installed on their tablet or smartphone.

Through all three points of access, files can be viewed, uploaded, downloaded or shared with others.

Where to find Support

This tool is not centrally supported

Help and Documentation

For help, please refer to the Dropbox documentation

Tool Evaluation




The tool can be scaled to accommodate any size class with the flexibility to create smaller sub-groups or communities of practice

Ease of Use

The tool has a user-friendly interface that is easy to navigate and personalize

Tech Support/Help Availability

Technical support and help documentation is available in the form of web pages or videos


The tool allows users to communicate through different channels (audio, visual, textual) and allows for non-sequential, flexible/adaptive engagement with material



AODA Friendly

Dropbox has some limited capacity to be fully accessible for users or for materials to be made AODA-friendly. The Dropbox program may have difficulty working with Screen Readers. Any files uploaded and shared through Dropbox would need to be made accessible by users before sharing.

User-focused participation

As a file sharing space, Dropbox has some limited capacity to address the needs of diverse users, their various literacies, and capabilities

Required Equipment

Proper use of the tool does not require equipment other than a computer and access to the internet



OWL Integration

Dropbox users can choose to make their files available through a link, which can be added to OWL

Operating Systems

Users can effectively utilize Dropbox with any standard, up-to-date operating system (i.e. Windows 10, Apple OSX, etc.)

Web Browser

Users can effectively utilize the tool with any standard, up-to-date web browser (i.e. Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer 10 etc.)

Additional Tech Requirements

Users can effectively utilize Dropbox without any browser extensions or downloaded software. While Dropbox can be accessed through a web browser, desktop and mobile app downloads are available for greater access

Mobile Design


Mobile Operating Systems

The tool is fully functional with a range of electronic mobile devices (laptops, tablets, touchscreens, mobile devices, etc.)

Mobile Functionality

There is little to no functional difference between the mobile app and the main tool

Offline Access

Files can be marked for offline access. See How can I access my files offline?

Uio Dropbox

Usage and Account Set Up


Sign Up/Sign In

An account is needed to create and share Dropbox folders. Dropbox encourages users to create accounts, but it is not necessary - an account is not needed to view and download files that have been made publicly available through a link.

Cost of Use

2GB of storage is provided to users free of charge. A fee structure allows users to purchase more storage space for their Dropbox account.

Archiving, Saving, and Exporting Data

Users can archive, save, or import and export content from Dropbox in a variety of formats

Data Privacy and Ownership

Users maintain ownership and copyright of their intellectual property/data; the user can keep data private and decide if/how data is to be shared. See Is Dropbox safe to use?

Social Presence



Dropbox has the capacity to support a community of learning through asynchronous but not synchronous opportunities for communication, interactivity, and transfer of meaning between users

User Accountability

Instructors cannot control student anonymity but the tool provides some solution for holding students accountable for their actions. Folders are shared between users through an email address, which may be an anonymized ID.


Student familiarity with Dropbox is likely mixed, some will lack basic technical competence with its functions

Instructor Presence



Dropbox is intended for file sharing and has limited functionality specific to supporting an instructor’s ability to be present with students via active management, monitoring, and engagement


Tool is adaptable to its environment: easily customized to suit the classroom context through folder structure

Learning Analytics

As a file sharing platform, Dropbox was not designed to provide learning analytics. Little data can be collected on a user’s activities within Dropbox (i.e. access, download of shared files)

Cognitive Presence


Enhancement of Cognitive Task(s)

Given the way Dropbox supports file sharing, it is possible that it could contribute to enhanced cognitive performance as a supportive process tool.

Higher Order Thinking

Dropbox may engage students in higher order thinking skills (given significant consideration to design, facilitation, and direction from instructor)

Feedback on Learning

Opportunities for receiving formative feedback on learning are available, but infrequent or limited (i.e. poor opportunities for tracking performance, monitoring improvement, testing knowledge on a regular basis)

Security and Privacy


This tool has not been formally reviewed by Western’s Technology Risk Assessment Committee

Security and Privacy Flags


  • Users are required to create and use a non-Western account. It is highly recommended that users do not use the same username and password that is in use at Western.

Information Collection

  • Application collects information that could identify the user specifically (email address, class schedule, etc..)
  • Application collects information that is confidential (physical address, drivers licence number, health card number, social insurance number)
  • This application may use profile information and/or provided data for marketing purposes


  • Acceptance of the Application's Terms of Conditions or End User License Agreement may bind the institution to an agreement thereby requiring legal counsel to review the application contract.

Cost and Approval

  • The application may require the instructor to enter credit card information
  • The application may require students to enter credit card information


  • This application is hosted outside of Canada

Last Updated: January 22, 2020

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