By Alexandra Coutlée, special collaboration
With all the choices of technological tools available to us, it's easy to get lost. In fact, every tool has its strengths and weaknesses, and, no, there isn't one better tool than another. Above all, there is the best tool to meet YOUR educational needs. Besides, now, instead of saying "This tool is the best", I say "This is the one I prefer".
Beyond the opinion of your friends and colleagues, here are some ways to make a choice of tools according to YOUR reality.
1- Availability in your environment
For reasons of security, budget or consistency, certain tools are not available in certain environments. It is therefore good, before you start, to check which tools are already available (or authorized) in your environment.
If you had tools in mind that are not available, then you can compare their functions with those of other similar tools that are available. It is quite possible that you will manage to find an equivalent, although you may have to be creative and come to terms with some functions that seemed interesting.
Moreover, we must never forget that it is the educational intention that counts, not the more button contained in an application! If in doubt, seek advice from your disciplinary and ICT pedagogical advisers for possible alternatives.
2- Digital equity
In order for it to be useful pedagogically, you must first make sure that a tool will be available for your students. Some tools, while interesting and popular, only work with certain devices. For example, some must be installed on a computer and will not work on a mobile device. Others are only accessible on certain devices of certain companies. It is therefore important to validate which devices are used by your students to ensure that the use of the tool will be optimal for all.
Some tools are free, while others require purchase or subscription. Many offer a 14 or 30 day free trial… but then you have to pay. Before getting started, it is good to visit the Price /Pricing of the tool. Even if the free version is sufficient for now, take the time to check out what the paid options are. With continued use, the paid options can become interesting and it may be relevant to get them. Knowing what the limits are and what the costs will be if you want to take usage to the next level can help you make a choice up front.
(Editor's note: Don't forget also that we often say that if it's free, you are the product! We can also look at the options offered on the side of free software, often truly free to obtain, but who may require technical maintenance.)
4- personal values and preferences
Beyond the choices of digital equity, budget and institutional choice, there are personal values. Would you like to encourage businesses from here rather than businesses from elsewhere? Would you like to use royalty-free tools rather than those from private companies?
Each tool has its strengths and weaknesses. Nevertheless, a large part of the technological choices we make are justified by our values and personal preferences. And, that's correct! Sometimes the choice is simply emotional: it is the tool that we know and that we have used for several years. It works well and meets needs… so why change!
We must remain open to the different options. Personally, I am always curious to discover a new video conferencing, questionnaire or audio recording tool. I listen, I compare and I make choices (sometimes even bereavement). I cannot use all the tools. I like to know that they exist and to explore them. I have adopted several tools that I am comfortable and efficient with, but no, my tool is no better than yours. It is simply the one that I have chosen and that meets my need.
So what is YOUR favorite digital tool?