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I have a number of ed-tech tools that I've promised to review, and as such I've been thinking about the rubric I use (or maybe I should use) to evaluate products that are designed for the classroom, that are meant to enhance teaching and learning, that are purporting to make (school) life easier for teachers, administrators, parents, and students.

Right now, when I look at an ed-tech offering, I try to weigh whether or not it passes "the sniff test." That is, will it appeal to kids? Will it appeal to teachers? Will they use it? Because at the end of the day, it doesn't mean squat that [famous tech personality] thinks your app is AWESOME if students and teachers think it's CRAP.

If it's a classroom tool, is it feasible to get 25+ students up and rolling and through a lesson with it in under, say, 45 minutes?

If it's an administrative tool, are there easy-to-follow instructions or is it something that's going to require a half-day of professional development training (or worse, perhaps, a whole Sunday afternoon) in order to learn how to use it?

How accessible is this tech -- in terms of cost, in terms of the hardware and Internet/broadband requirements, in terms of skills and training?

How open is it -- in terms of code and content? If you change your mind about your usage, can you get your data out?

Is it social? Is it mobile? Is it platform agnostic? Is it available in multiple languages?

Is it fun?

OK, I'll stop here, because I could go on, and I don't want to look like I'm impossible to please. After all, I want to encourage more ed-tech startups. What I've written here isn't a rubric, but a rant. And I'm a nice, sympathetic ed-tech blogger. Really. I am.

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Audrey Watters


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