Do your students use Blackboard or WordPress? Are you concerned these tools get in the way of students learning course content? Seize the opportunity to facilitate learning through play. Help your students build a community of their peers while teaching them how to use the course-required tools with social assignments. Tackle the “I don’t know how’ issue head-on with a bit of fun, and cohort-building, on the side.
When I first taught face-to-face composition with the goal to help students understand the academic essay, I had them print out their papers for me to read at my desk next to my beloved mug of pens. I’ve never been comfortable doling out grades without extensive, contextual feedback, so I always wrote a great deal in the margins.
I write a great deal about freeware because this is such a great era for free tools, with many powerful options out there for all types of projects. That is not to say you should never pay for the tools you use, however. In some cases, premium programs pay back with functionality what you put in them with cash.