It would not be wrong to say that we are bombarded with tools that can more or less contribute to our learning & teaching with a simple move. And in this variety, tool selection is becoming a tougher task. We can see that there are lots of tools functionally doing the same job. They have even more or the less the same effect in our teaching. So in this situations, we as teachers, need to develop a modern criteria of selection towards the tools we’re planning to use .
Let’s take a look at this selection issue in users’ perspectives. Whether it’s the teacher or the learner, all of us take the user’s seat when it comes to using the tool. It’s also important to note that our expectations, interactions and opinions towards a tool have also changed. Maybe everyday we’re reviewing a tool, watching live demos of it on the internet, developing further activities based on the tool, posting comments about it or joining a discussion on the tool’s community forums. By any means we as users have become the direct feedback provider for the tool and since we can test a tool’s potential and track its updates more easily than ever, it requires us to be more picky about our criteria and shifts it towards a modern-looking, responsive & multi-platform ones.
So what are some characteristics of a modern tool, and why is important for us to develop a modern approach for selecting?
First, familiarity and first impression. a modern looking and versatile tool would be more familiar to the learners in terms of its layout and structure since most of them already got acquainted with some of the tools maybe pre-installed in their devices they’re using. So if you use an structurally & visually unfamiliar and outdated tool, its effect on your learners will dramatically decrease even if you use the tool to its full potential.
Multi-platform. Modern tools mostly support multi-platform usage, have desktop & mobile apps, browser extensions and synchronized working opportunities. It’s needless to say that it’s a great relief for us to start a project on our computer & finish it on our mobile phones. So if a tool can run across multiple devices, it means that you & your learners will have bunch of other ways to make use of it, rather than being limited to one web page or platform.
UX. Modern tools have UX based design. Basically visually guiding the user through the content, it makes your adaptation and general experience of the tool easier and less complicated. So if you are not sure how to interact with a tool or have no fun or ease while using it, probably that’s because developers of the tool do not care about UX. Taking UX into consideration makes your learners’ adaptation with the tool easier, even if they’re using it for the first time.
Visually attractive. Well-designed and visually attractive tools are always one step ahead. If you look at some of the leading tools in the field, you can easily see that they care about good design, follow the recent trends and have an established visual identity. Together with a good UX, a visually attractive tool stands out and makes your experience far more enjoyable. So it’s better if you look at all your tools and review them visually. And a tool of a unsatisfactory visual identity is worth replacing.
To conclude, there are lots of tools, websites, extensions & applications on the internet for you & your learners. And developing a modern & up-to-date criteria while selecting your tools is essential. Most of the teachers tend to look at a tool just by looking at its potential pedagogical feasibility. Though it is not wrong, we,as teachers & teachers-to-be should expand this pedagogical criteria with some user-centered, experience-based and well designed ones. And by doing this, we can clearly observe that a hand-picked tool makes a big difference in our teaching.