University of Oklahoma

Case study

Jenel Cavazos, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at the University of Oklahoma, uses Dropbox and Trello to stay organized and productive while navigating this pandemic school year.

University of Oklahoma’s

Key Results

  • Uninterrupted teaching with access to information from anywhere
  • Streamlined productive workflows with Trello integration
  • Increased collaboration between students and faculty

The challenge

Moving the university experience online

The responsibilities of a university professor extend far beyond the lecture hall. Professors collaborate with graduate students, teaching assistants, and other faculty members on planning curricula, leading research projects, and even writing books. With so many moving parts to keep track of, academic teams often end up with a gigantic paper trail of coursework, reports, and data.

When the tidal wave of changes from the pandemic rushed onto college campuses in the spring of 2020, faculty and students worldwide had to quickly pack their bags, dorm rooms, and offices and head home. All University of Oklahoma (OU) faculty members were required to work and teach remotely. If psychology professor Jenel Cavazos, Ph.D., hadn’t set up her lessons and processes with Trello and Dropbox, her research projects, course curricula, and plans for the semester would have been locked up on her physical desktop or external hard drive. 

As the school year went on, classes fewer than 40 students could return in person while larger classes remained either fully or partially remote. Being in the classroom has its benefits for the students, but this hybrid model only created more organizational challenges for the faculty.

Before, we used Microsoft Word to keep track of projects and details, but it didn’t have the organizational features and flexible workflows that Trello and Dropbox provide. I love how these tools work together… and having them integrated is vital to staying organized.

Jenel Cavazos, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology

The solution

A new school of thought

When the start of COVID-19 pandemic uprooted everyone from their campuses in the spring semester of 2020, professors and graduate students at OU were able to adapt more easily thanks to education technology and cloud-based collaboration tools, including web-based applications like Trello and Dropbox. The two digital collaboration tools integrate, allowing users to reliably store and share their files while providing secure access to proprietary information and data.

Trello, a visual collaboration platform that organizes your projects into boards, works like a digital whiteboard with sticky notes, where each sticky note represents a task. It lets you know what your students and colleagues are working on, who’s assigned to which projects, and the progress they are making.

Dr. Cavazos created a Trello board for each course she teaches and collaborates on with her graduate students. The Trello board is a combination of an information repository and a project tracker. She communicates and collaborates with her graduate students in Trello cards on the board to assign tasks, capture ideas, check-in on course progress, and provide feedback and opportunities for improvement.

The Dropbox Power-Up in Trello makes it seamless for Dr. Cavazos and anyone on her team to access and collaborate on curriculum details, checklists, and reports whenever they need them. Any updates made to the Trello boards are shown in the Dropbox file activity feed as well.

As the academic year progressed, Dr. Cavazos has also been using Dropbox Paper to help her stay organized. When dealing with large research and planning documents, she found that “the ability to minimize entire huge portions of text using headlines,” a feature included in Paper, “is so convenient.” Instead of searching through pages and pages of text to find what she is looking for, she can now click on the headline to maximize the section of information she needs.

The [COVID] transition happened so quickly… but our existing processes with Trello and Dropbox made it easier to make these revisions with my graduate students and teaching assistants.

Jenel Cavazos, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology

The results

Processes that pass the test

Dr. Cavazos found that file management in Dropbox and synergic workflows in Trello are a digital collaboration dream. By taking a page from her lesson plan, other educators around the world can better organize the many moving pieces of coursework, research projects, and teaching all in one place. Even though everyone was forced to work from home, Dr. Cavazo’s thinks there is a silver lining. “More professors are looking at the best ways to incorporate technology into their classes AND in their everyday lives, and that digital pivot is something that they wouldn’t necessarily have done before.”

Trello and Dropbox make the perfect digital tool duo for educators to organize, collaborate, and stay productive, whether they are teaching on campus or remotely. University faculty, staff, and students who embrace these approaches to online productivity and collaboration will reap the rewards of remote learning, especially as it continues to become the new normal.

Learn how you can collaborate on team projects with the Trello and Dropbox integration available in the Dropbox App Center.

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