According to Marshall McLuhan’s deterministic philosophy, “we shape our tools and then our tools shape us”. It is clear that technology offers much more than tools and resources; and, based on McLuhan's hypothesis, today's university students should possess different abilities and attitudes than those of generations past, given that their training and education has been strongly influenced by technological advancements. A reflective analysis has nevertheless revealed significant deficiencies, in that inadequate computer tools are often employed in the teaching-learning process: because, on many occasions, the time necessary to familiarize oneself with the software is incompatible with the course’s or project’s deadlines.

Those studying and working in field of engineering are in the habit of continually updating their technological skills and knowledge, but the current professional trend favoring pragmatism impels us to closely evaluate the actual usefulness of new technologies. Therefore, a pragmatic approach has been adopted to assess the potential of various technologies, prioritizing simplicity over showiness. This approach also eliminates those options that do not improve upon technologies which are already available, thereby empowering the student, as required by the most current teaching methodologies. To this end, an educational activity has been designed with two objectives in mind: a strictly academic goal and that of testing software.

The basic outline of the software testing project is as follows: the student is not aware of the software-testing objective, using the computer tools is voluntary, and training is not provided for said tools (however, some basic information is provided). This proposal aims to present the student with a motivating challenge, since they must independently learn to work with new tools, which in turn fosters students' critical thinking skills as they must evaluate the tool’s usefulness according to the objectives proposed by the academic project. The experiment was quite successful and five applications with great educational potential were selected: two general and three specific. And furthermore, in some cases, students were able to find other tools that fulfilled the requirements in question to a large extent.

Ultimately, thanks to the strategic design of this academic activity, “undercover” software testing could be conducted to select computer tools with outstanding educational potential. In addition, this study has the added value that the utility and adequateness of these tools was evaluated by students in a natural and spontaneous manner.