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100K and counting: IU's Box use continues to grow

With the largest user base in all of higher education, the IU community continues to find creative ways to use the platform

Ever since Indiana University began using the cloud storage and file-sharing service Box in 2012, it’s become a go-to tool for students, faculty, and staff. Or, as IU CIO and Vice President for IT Brad Wheeler observed, “In the workflow of how people collaborate at IU, Box has become the system of choice.”

Wheeler isn’t exaggerating. IU recently reached 100,000 active Box users, giving it the largest implementation of the service in higher education. Box is used daily at IU for everything from students collaborating on class projects to university leaders sharing strategic plans, and anything in between.

“I see over and over again, our units innovating in how to use Box as the infrastructure for their work,” said Wheeler. “I’ve never seen anything grow so organically in user adoption as just turning Box on and then watching our community innovate.”

According to Bob Flynn, IU cloud technology support manager, IU is one of Box’s biggest customers in any industry. So, it isn’t hard to find unique examples of how Box plays a part in making processes more effective and efficient for IU students, faculty, researchers, and administrators.

For instance, IU Residential Programs and Services (RPS) sends student employees to inspect dormitory rooms at the end of every spring semester, taking photographs with their personal or department-issued mobile devices to chronicle any damage. The employees create folders in Box to identify the building and room number, making it easy for inspectors using the Box mobile app to follow up in the future.

“Other than email, there may be no other IT service provided by IU that has this kind of user participation. In addition to our 100,000 internal users, we have invited 25,000 users from outside IU to collaborate with us via Box,” said Flynn, who called Box the “gold standard” of the vendor relationships he manages. “Users have many options for storing their files at IU, but Box not only gives them ‘bottomless’ storage, but it is storage they can access anytime from any internet-connected device.”

But at its core, Box is most useful to the IU community because of its ability to store and share work. 

IU’s 100,000th user, IU Kokomo freshman Madison Christensen, was a Box novice until recently. She is quickly learning exactly how essential the product is at her school.

“I wouldn’t say I’m super tech-savvy, but I can learn pretty easily. Now I know Box is cloud storage and you can access it from any computer, rather than using a flash drive or something that’s not really reliable,” recalled the native of Logansport, Indiana. “You can easily lose a flash drive, but you can access Box from any computer and work together or share your work with people. That seems really convenient.”

As Christensen and the rest of IU’s new students become familiar with Box, Flynn has an eye on the product’s near-term future, including the following developments:

  • An overhaul of the web interface, giving users greater control over their view and experience with Box in the browser and improving Box’s already strong search capabilities.
  • A desktop application that will eventually replace Box Sync, allowing Windows and Mac users to have a real-time mapped or mounted drive to the Box account when they are online. Users will be able to interact with Box content the same way as local files, but changes will be immediately on Box.
  • Users will be able to mark different offline content for different machines, a frequently requested change to Box Sync.

For more information, users with general questions or feedback about Box can contact boxinfo@iu.edu. For technical issues, users can contact the IU Support Center.