This has happened to me on more than a few occasions, and in many cases, the problem can’t be helped–a company changing its fee structure is completely unforeseen. With some planning, though, cutting back on this sort of “technofrustration” can be avoided. The fix is simply to pay for the sites and applications that you and your students will use the most.

Does this mean teachers should never use a free web tool again? Certainly not. I’d recommend being very selective, though, prior to dedicating a large amount of your own effort and work using something that may eventually be priced out of your range.

When I decided to create a classroom website to house presentations, project guidelines, assessments, and most of my students’ work, I could have selected from a wide array of free web hosts or blogs. Some that I explored are now defunct, while others have instituted to huge monthly fees.

Fortunately, before I put in hundreds of hours building my site, I took the time to research the host; I even eMailed the company’s owner, who eventually called me, asking how he might help and what fears I had. This time proved to be invaluable. I’ve used this web host for seven years, and the monthly fee has never increased, even though the company does market its product more to the private sector.

I realize that teachers are reluctant to pay for classroom resources. When it comes to the technology tools that you and your students will use most often–the ones that cannot be replaced–spending a few dollars monthly may ultimately save you thousands of dollars in wasted time.

Educators can connect and follow the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #eSNBestPractices.

Mark Barnes is a 20-year classroom teacher, international education consultant and author of Role Reversal and The 5-Minute Teacher (ASCD, 2013). In his books and articles, Barnes walks teachers through the fundamentals of results-only learning, which eliminates traditional practices—homework, worksheets, tests, and even grades—and replaces them with student-driven, yearlong projects, and technology integration. Learn more at