Do you want to use social media, web 2.0 tools, and/or a learning management system for your class or course program? Do you feel overwhelmed with the absurd amount of choice, and those ‘techie’ annoying types that make you feel like a Super Noob? I’m hoping this post can help you out.

Every year around this time I reflect on the tools and spaces we’ve been using throughout the year. Will we use them again? Were they effective? Did they help us expand our learning, or were they just pretty things in a tool box? Here are some of my own criteria, based on being a teacher of middle schoolers in a class with an assortment of technology.

Device agnostic: I have a multi-device environment in which mobile dominates. So, I don’t mean the space needs to be seen on any or most devices. I mean it’s gotta work just as well on a mobile device as it does a laptop. What’s more, it hopefully includes apps (third party or otherwise) for ease of use.

Simple, elegant, minimalist design: ‘Nuff said.

Engineering: It’s fast, and it works. Not most of the time – all of the time. Also, it does a few things really well, not a million things badly.

Used by people outside of education: This isn’t because I have some bizarre inferiority complex with apps and LMSs, feeling like it’s illegitimate if someone else doesn’t use it. I’ve just noticed a pattern: if a digital tool or space is being designed solely for education, it usually sucks like a leach.

Easy privacy settings: Because if it’s complex, then it can’t be trusted, especially for school.


I’ve created the matrix below to help you should you need it. Some points to keep in mind about it:

  • By no means is it an exhaustive list of all options.
  • It is focussed on my own context as YRDSB Ontario educator, and is mostly intended for my colleagues, so definitely represents a bias from this context. Hopefully it’s useful to others.

Click here for the native Google document.