In almost all cases, I think exporting a function would be better then exporting a variable. Another term for exporting a variable is called a "global variable", and most programmers feel that they are not a clean way to do programming. There is nothing wrong with having a subroutine that returns a scaler. Don't get me wrong though, there are times when global variables are useful or necessary, and TMTOWTDI applies.
in reply to should a module export FUNCTIONS or VARIABLES?
As a matter of fact though, it is actually possible to avoid both, if you ever decide to get into Object Oriented programming (OOP). I know you're just getting started, so don't feel pushed. There are advantages and disadvantages to both, as various discussions around here lately have proven. But it is a given that overall, OOP is considered cleaner then standard procedural programming, and you don't have to bother with exporting anything.
For more information on OOP, check out "perldoc perlboot"