The lost skill of organizing files and folders on your computer

She’d laid out the assignment clearly, but student after student was calling her over for help. They were all getting the same error message: The program couldn’t find their files.

Garland thought it would be an easy fix. She asked each student where they’d saved their project. Could they be on the desktop? Perhaps in the shared drive? But over and over, she was met with confusion. “What are you talking about?” multiple students inquired. Not only did they not know where their files were saved — they didn’t understand the question.

Source: Kids who grew up with search engines could change STEM education forever – The Verge

I haven’t seen an issue with students organizing their files and folders in Google Drive, and I believe the issue is not the concept of files and folders. Elementary students in our district organize their drives, some are meticulous. The problem the professor was seeing is that the students didn’t understand the location of their files. When all you use is cloud based services, all your files are in one location and you usually interact with those files through a web browser. However, students also need to use local applications running on their machine, and this may be pretty new.

A lot of students use Chromebooks, and when students go to open up a file, they are opening up something on Google Drive. When the students move to a desktop operating system, such as Windows or macOS, those same files need to be located on the local machine, not in the cloud. This requires that some sort of cloud sync software needs to be installed so the student can access their Google Drive or OneDrive locally, adding an additional step. Once installed, it can then become confusing because the file for the student is under a drive on their computer, but also in the cloud.

At least with Chromebooks the students are putting every single file they use on the desktop…

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