The Electric Educator: These are the tools I pay to use

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

These are the tools I pay to use

These are the tools I pay to use, John R. Sowash,

I am a big fan of free classroom tools. Most of the tools that I recommend are free. But sometimes you really should pay for the "pro" or "premium" version of a tool that you use on a regular basis.

There are two reasons you should pay for a tool:

  1. To save time
  2. To support the tool so that it sticks around

I know that teacher salaries are meager (believe me; I made less than $30k for the first four years of my career!). And I am not suggesting that you pay for everything, but it's funny how we are comfortable spending $4 for a cup of coffee, but won't pay $100/year for something we use every day.

These are the tools I pay to use

Screencastify - $24/year

Screencastify is a screen recording tool that works on any device (even Chromebooks!). I use Screencastify to record screen videos, edit them, and save them as GIF files. Screencasting is an essential daily activity for me and the pro version of screencastify allows me to create content quickly and efficiently. Plus, you can't beat the price! This is a tool that I pay for primarily to support the developer.

Pear Deck - $99/year

Pear Deck allows me to create interactive presentations. I use Pear Deck during my workshops and occasionally use it to try to win a demo slam! The premium version of Pear Deck provides a ton of extra features that will save you time like PowerPoint imports and the ability to view students answers via the live dashboard. If you present on a regular basis, Pear Deck is an awesome investment.

Hello Sign - $156/year

I send and receive a lot of contracts. Hello Sign lets me sign and return them electronically. The annual price for Hello Sign is a bit steep considering what I do with it, but it has significantly reduced the annoyance of filling out paperwork.

Canva - $120/year

I just recently upgraded to Canva for work. I should have done so sooner. I have been using Canva to create graphics for my blog and various websites for over a year. I spend a lot of time in Canva. The work version of Canva makes it much easier to organize files and set up branding themes. Money well spent.

MileIQ - $60/year

Tracking mileage is another miserable task. Mile IQ makes it much easier. It uses your phone to track your location and mileage. Swipe left for personal; right for business. Mile IQ easily pays for itself in all of the lost mileage that I can now easily track.

Pandora - $4.99/month

It's pool season and my wife doesn't like commercials. So, we have Pandora premium....for the summer.

Amazon Prime - $99/year

You don't have Amazon Prime? How do you survive? I have five kids. Ordering from Amazon is WAY easier than dragging everyone into a store. Amazon Prime is the best! Worth every penny!

Audible - $14.95/month

I got a monthly subscription to Audible so that I could listen to Audio books in the car. This has been a great investment. Not only have I passed the time on long road trips across the Midwest (and in Chicago traffic), I have actually "read" quite a few books! If you read one book a month, this is a great deal as most new release hardcovers are more than $15.

Remember, time is money. The more time you can save, the more opportunities you have to do awesome, meaningful work.

Paying for something is a vote of support. When you support a product with your dollars you communicate to the developer that they are providing something of value to users.

What products have you "voted" for with your dollars? Leave me a comment and let me know if I am missing out on something awesome! 


  1. So you pay $800 annually for these extra services ?!? I won't do it!

    1. I do. They save me time and help me produce professional quality content.

      I am not recommending that you go out and pay for any of these products. I am simply suggesting that sometimes it is worth paying for things that can save you time or are a significant part of your daily work flow.

  2. I am a huge fan of Dashlane ( as a password manager. Dashlane has saved me a ton of time, made logging in to web sites incredibly efficient and well worth the premium yearly subscription $40.

    1. That's a good one. It's probably time for me to use a password manager. Have you compared dashlane to last pass or some of the other popular password managers?

    2. I have not done a true side-by-side comparison like this But I can honestly say this is one tool that I will not go without. If you or anyone is interested in trying this - please use the referral link ( to get extended use of the premium service.

  3. I pay for Screencastify because it's not too terribly expensive and with the free version you can only record for 10 minutes.

  4. I use goFormative instead of Pear Deck. goFormative is free and that version has what I need for now.

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  6. I too pay for Peardeck - sooooooo worth it! I need to think about paying for Screencastify as I find myself making more and more videos. Thanks for sharing!


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