Online educational tools provide engaging environments for students with various needs. However, exploring new tools can be time-consuming for students without any advice on how to select the appropriate learning tools. It is better for instructors to provide the resources as much as they can to help students best utilize the low costs online tools and do their own evaluations.
Here are some examples of where to find free online tools:
The following prompts may help you locates the appropriate tools faster:
- Which tools might help your students achieve their learning goals?
- Which tools might help you enhance your teaching?
- Which tool do you want to use for course activities? Why? What will be your approach to learning how to use this tool?
To evaluate learning tools or to compare similar learning tools, we need to know what criteria we should look into:
- Ease of Use: Whether the user can quickly learn how to use the tool with relative ease. How many instructions are needed for learning how to use the tool? Are there any tutorials and FAQ information available if the user runs into an issue with the tool?
- Impact on Student Learning: Whether the tool supports students in acquiring or developing skills (e.g., collaboration, karate, synthesis of information, self-directed learning), knowledge (e.g., content knowledge), or attitudes (e.g., growth mindset)?
- Cost: Does the tool require any money to use? Does it sell user data or embed advertisements in the tool?
- Power & Bias: Does the tool empower, favor, or marginalize certain groups of people? Does it present biased (e.g., one-sided perspective) or deceptive information?
- Access: Can the tool be used on any device (e.g., tablet, smartphone, laptop, desktop) and any browser (e.g., Chrome, Firefox, Explorer, Safari)? Does the tool require separate plug-ins or components that need to be downloaded in order to use it (e.g., Flash)? Can the tool be used with minimal bandwidth?
- Accessibility: Can the tool be used by anyone, regardless of physical or learning disability?
Those criteria can help you evaluate the tool and determine whether to use it in your practice.