4 Ways to Collect Your Students’ Digital Artwork

So your students just finished this amazing project using technology. They were engaged in the lesson, they worked hard, their finished results are beautiful… and stuck on the devices on which they were created.  Now what?
digital work
Handing in digital artwork requires a little more effort than having a student write his or her name on the back of a paper, but it’s definitely doable.

Here are a few different ways to tackle this challenge along with the pros and cons for each.


1: Print out the work.

This option is simple. Have each student add his or her name to the image, and send the image to the printer. Gather the students’ printouts at the end of class and your work is done.

Pros: You have a hard copy of each assignment before the end of class. Students’ work is printed and ready to take home or display. Most students can easily do this on their own.

Cons: Some students will print 15 copies to the wrong printer before they ask for help. Some students will forget to sign the digital images leaving you with images and no idea to whom they belong. You don’t have access to the original image files if you want more copies for an art show or display. Ink is expensive. Printing may not even be an option depending on your school’s budget.

2: Email the work.

If your school is like mine, each student has his or her own email address. As students finish their projects they can email them to you as email attachments.

Pros: You have access to each original file and can print as many as needed. Students have access to their images at home or in other classes. Most students can easily do this on their own.

Cons: You have to open and download every image individually. Depending on how your email is set up, your students’ work could come to you by time sent, student name or by grade, making it difficult to stay organized.

3: Dropbox the work.

Dropbox is an free file sharing service that allows you to access your files from anywhere with internet access. Dropbox allows you to create a folder for each class or section and have the students turn in their work via the dropbox icon.

Pros: You have access to each original file and can print as many as needed. You have control over how the classes turn in their images: by class, grade level or individual project.

Cons: Some apps don’t link directly to dropbox, forcing students to use multiple apps to turn in projects. You will have to teach students the specific steps to follow.

4: Upload to Artsonia

For those teachers who use Artsonia, this is hands down the best answer. Students simply use Artsonia Classroom Mode to upload their images.

Pros: Students and teachers have access to each original file. Family and friends can view images, comment and purchase products since images are available on Artsonia. You can control the students allowed to display work in each exhibit.  Students write about their images, composing artist statements, as they upload their pieces.  When you create an art exhibit, Artsonia automatically creates a “classroom” which students can access via a QR code.

Cons:  You can’t use this if you aren’t signed up for Artsonia.  Students will require a quick walk-through the first time they use Artsonia Classroom Mode.
Any of these options will certainly work to solve the problem of handing in digital work. The question becomes more about how much time you have to sift through digital work and what resources you have available.

How do you manage collecting digital work? 

What other obstacles do you see to having students work digitally? 


Jennifer Carlisle


Jen is a middle school art teacher from Norfolk, NE who loves exploring and teaching art through traditional and digital art mediums.


  • At our 1:1 iPad school, we use Artsonia, Dropbox, shared folders on Google Drive, and postings on http://www.padlet.com. Another way to collect student work is through learning management platforms such as Edmodo, Moodle, or Google Classroom.

  • jbrocka

    I love google classroom, if your school is a google app school, it great! Students can journal and turn in without having horrible handwriting! You can easily also see who turned work in and who hasn’t. It is also timed stamped as well.

  • Mr. Post

    I am not even sure digital art work is art. I have made digital art but I really miss the tactile quality of making something with my hands. I haven’t found one software paintbrush yet that “feels” as nice as a 99 cent paint brush pushing paint across a canvas. I know, I am a dinosaur from a bygone era hahaha….

    • I agree that there is no replacement for the feel of a paintbrush in your hand and the paint as it swishes across the paper or canvas. It is my favorite feeling. This should never be replaced with technology. However, in my opinion, digital art is still art. What would you call the work that a graphic artist does using technology or all the designers out there that work with computers and tablets? I would call them artists and their work art. Technology can help expand traditional artworks to new levels, it can help with the project design, it can help add literacy components, and it can be used to create wonderful works of art. A digital painting is still a work of art. Art skills and creativity was still used to create it. The medium is just different.
      I agree a software paintbrush is no match for the real thing. I use my fingers most often when creating digital works.

    • Jennifer Martin

      The student’s world has gone digital..they were born digital. So I believe it is so important to teach, mainly, the studio concepts of tradition, however, to show them that some skills can translate into the world they know is an important connection for them too. My students all have ipads in our high school. So they are required to shoot each finished work and upload it to their digital portfolio on Artsitenet.com/ Artsite app. They have access to share and see all thier work with family and friends. Never give up on our traditions, but small brushes with their world can be meaningful and help them appreciate the fine art traditions even moren.

    • Jennifer Carlisle

      and remember there was a time (and some debate still rages) when photography wasn’t considered art.

  • lux_arts

    If you don’t want to use dropbox, you could also use google drive. Just create a class account and login. then students can upload their assignments from anywhere.

  • marilynpeters

    The Artsonia solution also works for all types of work–as long as there is a digital image. In my high school classes I have made this a go-to method of collecting artwork with the student doing the uploading. I allow them to take photos and help them get images done if needed and they do the rest. It has helped with organization as well and it is easy to pull up exhibits and show them that they have not uploaded yet. Then I am not accused of losing their work! It also allows for students to reflect–artist statements, and respond to others’ work–

  • marilynpeters

    Sorry it kicked me off before I was quite finished… I would have ended the thought with Comments. It also allows the instructor to make comments fort the student as well. I am working toward doing that in the future.

  • Flickr is another great option for storing and sharing digital work.

  • Jill Anders

    I use Dropbox with my digital design students. They upload via DROPitTOme. We print what we need for display and art shows. Their work can then be uploaded to our classroom website. We use Facebook and Twitter to get community appreciation.

  • Cynthia Gaub

    Artsonia is my favorite way since they added the classroom mode. I used to use MOODLE for turning in digital work. Still have to use our district server folders for turning in videos.

    • Jennifer Carlisle

      I agree Artsonia Classroom is amazing. I love the simplicity, the writing component, the ability to see who has things turned in and sooo much more. It was an AMAZING addition to their site.

  • Linda Evans

    I like the PhotoSync app to transfer iPad work to my desktop computer.

  • Jennifer Martin

    For several years I have used Artsite app/ Artsitenet.com. It is a nArt History and Digital Portfolio site. I love, love, love the features my students have…such as: creating a Gallery of famous work (possibly something we are studying…Pop Art.) to creating their own Portfolio of work and viewing other classmates work for reviews, critiques etc. It offers so much. The school pays $20 for my (200) students memberships and mine is free. There are lesser prices for fewer students for the year. A great bargain for a great site. My rubrics state that the students work must be turned in digitlally as part of their points. I teach high school and this is a nice way to also have work assembled for part of their Final at the end of the semester. We review our Elements and Principles of design used in their personal work and the works of several famous artist. They have access to these items all in one place too and I have future images to use as examples for the next semester!

    • Jennifer Carlisle

      That does sound like a great site. Thanks for sharing.