So it’s this time of the year when Jane Hart compiles her Top 200 Tools for Learning. It’s her 10th list of tools that help people in professional and personal learning, workplace learning, and education, and it’s based on votings by learning professionals worldwide. Some of the tools are (very) widely known and well established, like YouTube (this years’s No 1) and Twitter, Moodle, a bunch of Webinar services, presentation tools from PowerPoint to Prezi to Slideshare, and so on- check it out yourself.
But then there are all those other tools. New tools. The list used to be a Top 100 list, now it’s a Top 200 list. Which already says a lot. New on the list this year are e.g. Flipbuilder, which “provides Flash and HTML 5 flip book design software to build 3D flip-page effect e-books from PDF, images and Office files”. Or Curatr, “a social learning platform from HT2 which enables rapid delivery of gamified courses”. And many more.
Although I like to see new tools appearing, I immediately have to ask myself- how long will this service be alive? And what do you do if it’s discontinued??
Webtools4U2Use is a Wiki by K-12 school library media specialists, and on their Finding the Right Tool site, which is very rich too, they include an interesting blog post by Greg Garner dealing with those questions:
But there’s an ugly side to all these free web-based tools that have spawned dozens of conference presentations with cleverly-worded titles: sometimes they fail. I’m talking about the big fail: shutting down the service.
He advices 3 things:
- There is no such thing as a free lunch. The web has conditioned us to believe that everything should be free. Except that nothing is free. If you like a service, pay for it. If there isn’t currently an option to pay, email the creator/developer and beg to send them money. (Seriously.)
- Think About Ideas, Not Tools. Always ask yourself what you’re hoping your students will learn before you select your tool. (Don’t use the tool for the tool’s sake)
- Think Categorically. Think about the various roles that each of your tools fill. Know what kinds of technology (not which tool) would best augment student learning
Read more at: What To Do When Your Favorite Tech Tool Calls it Quits
I completely agree, especially with No 1. That’s why I pay for most of the tools I use- normally there is a basic plan which is low-cost. I just subscribed to a resource planning tool for $2.50 per month. I guess that’s affordable, not?
Beside that, I always consider two other things:
- Is this new tool really more functional than what I used so far? Or does it just look shinier than my old, established one?
- Do I trust the developer enough to (already) implement the tool into my workflow? Or is it better just to play around with it with unimportant data and wait?
Most of the time I decide to wait. I do use it, I play with it, and if I like it, I buy the Pro version and hope many other people will do the same. But to include a tool into my personal Top Tool list, it definitevely has to prove to be long-lived. And up to that point, I only feed it with data or information I do not grieve for when it disappears.
One of the tools I just discovered and I am testing now is list.ly. You can check it out here:
Picture from macrumors.com