Criteria for educational tools

Over the last few years, I came across a number of educational tools. Some looked very promising, but revealed some weak points on the second, third, or - when well disguised - fourth look. For me, the following criteria are important when choosing an educational tool.


1. Simplicity

A tool has to be fool-proof. Although we might consider our students tech-savvy, not all of them are able to use difficult technologies. As a foreign language teacher, I had been looking for a possibility to record and upload audio files. The "classical" approach would be:

  • Record your voice using a recording application, such as Audacity.
  • Export the result as MP3.
  • Go to your blog.
  • Add a new post and insert your MP3 file in a new post.
  • Done.

That's simple. But each step contains dozens of small problems, we don't even think of. But I'm sure our students will find them.

2. Pricing

The tools should be free of charge, at least for the students. There are certain services that are very helpful. As a teacher, I'm willing to pay a reasonable premium. For the students, however, the services should be free of charge.

3. Ad-free or appropriate ads

I understand that services need money, they have to run a website and the developers need something to chew and drink. So, advertisements are okay, as long as they are appropriate.

4. Privacy and security

Every time, we use online tools, there are privacy issues to think about. There should be the possibility to password-protect the students' work.

5. We also have to teach media competence

Our students use (digital) media on a daily basis. The emergence of Web 2.0 applications made content generation very easy. There is, however, the need to teach our students the pros and cons of using these technologies. What can be done and what should be omitted. Finally, such questions as password security, copyright issues and ethical questions should also be discussed.

... this list is going to be continued ...

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