What would help you make better technology choices?

So I need your help.

For about 5 years I worked on the Edutools project with my friend and colleague Bruce Landon. Whether you liked the site or hated it (there seemed to be hundreds lined up on both sides of the fence) ultimately our goal and motivation was to help people make better decisions around educational technology.

In the Edutools project, the effort to help people make better choices was around the idea of ‘rational decision making.’ While I think the site was successful in many ways, it had its fair share of problems too. It didn’t offer hands-on access to the technology (it never tried to). Its “feature-centric” approach meant that people wanting to take a task or goal-centric approach (e.g. how well does this technology assist with teaching) were always frustrated. (And that approach played its part in reifying the concept of “course management systems.” Shudder. I will keep paying for that one for a long time.) It had a central review model and was hard to keep up to date. You can likely tell me many other problems. That’s ok, I’m not offended.

What I am more interested in, though, is your opinion on what helps you make better (educational) technology choices? Whether it be through Edutools or some other venue, I expect to continue trying to help people make better educational technology choices, and so before I even start down that road again I’m interested in any feedback on what might help or gaps that might be filled. A few of the ideas that have come up in conversation with others:

  • ed tech ‘sandboxes’ – inspired by the UMW folks, a service that lets educators ‘try before they buy’ at little or no cost (either effort or monetary)
  • a more community driven review site as per http://www.weblogmatrix.org/ or http://www.wikimatrix.org/
  • extending an existing social network (I am loathe to create yet another one!) to help people connect with existing peer adopters/practitioners
  • ‘database’ of best practice examples that are classified in multiple ways (discipline, technology, learning approach) to help people to see what can be done
  • clearninghouse wiki focused on issues to help individual faculty first make (and then defend) choices on loosely coupled (non-CMS) technologies

But I am really interested to hear from you what would help you make better choices? Operators are standing by… – SWL