I choose… um… can I have more time to decide?

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Steven Depolo

So many choices! When it comes to choosing digital tools, it’s a lot like trying to find an option you like in a bowl of candy.

This is one of the toughest parts of today’s digital world. We are inundated with options and picking the right one(s) can be tough. So how do you narrow it down?

  1. Research the experience of others. Do some digging for reviews. That does require finding some people you can trust and adding them to your personal learning network. A couple good options are Audrey Watters, Profhacker, Alan Levine
  2. Evaluate the options. Sometimes just a quick look at the site, product or company will tell you that even if others find it great, it won’t work for you. Check the cost, system requirements, availability on platforms, export options. This will let you weed out ones that aren’t worth a second or third look
  3. Evaluate the company. Once you’ve decided that an option is a viable choice, get an idea of who makes whatever option you want to use. How long have they been around? Are they likely to still be here later? Do they have policies you dislike? Who is making money from you?
  4. Test it. If at all possible, try it yourself. Sometimes a product is awesome but it just doesn’t fit in our lives. Sometimes it doesn’t live up to how others report it or how it is described. See how easy it is for you to use because you’re going to be teaching others how to use it.

I tried out Smart Sparrow last summer. It sounded like a very cool idea (software to create adaptive learning that is more user-friendly and doesn’t require a full coder to build), something more sustainable. The examples looked very promising. Then I tried it. I realized that it would require a large time investment to get started using it and produce anything worth producing. Sure, it could make some slick presentations and online learning modules, but the learning curve was going to be steep and with the pricing, it looked less and less feasible. It was a new company, no real track record, brand new product.

So how about you? What steps do you take to evaluate tech? Who do you go to for reviews or suggestions?

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