If you are considering using a digital platform or application, such as a ‘free/freemium’ or ‘paid-for’ third-party tool that isn’t one of the Universities existing suite of technologies, take the following steps before you use or purchase it:
- Check if the technology has been approved for use by the university Design Authority Group (DAG). You can contact the DTS service desk to make an enquiry, simply log a ticket via the self service portal.
- Contact your DTS Business Partner for advice if the technology has not already been approved. They can assist you in making a request and completing the necessary paperwork.
- Ascertain what technical support is available, if any. The university provides defined levels of support, this is limited for third-party technologies and third-party Blackboard integrations.
- Understand the risks of using approved free third-party technologies in your teaching and what you need to do if you use them.
What risks do I need to be aware of and can I mitigate them?
‘Freemiums’: Beware of ‘Freemium’ offers, these can be offered in extension to a ‘paid for’ service or as a limited alternative to full purchase. These may grant free usage at first but either expire after a time, or not provide full access to key functionality as the service evolves. Remember, these schemes are designed to get you to pay in the end.
Freedom of Information / Environmental Information Regulations: The University is obliged to know where all of its data is held and may need to provide it if requested under either the FOI or EIR regulations. This is irrespective of where it is stored. Make sure you, and others, can access your data if needed and that access is transferred if you are leaving the University.
Business Continuity: Bear in mind when using apps what might happen if access to the third-party tool/service stops, potentially without warning. Would this impact on the continuity of work and your ability to teach effectively? For example, could a key part of a module still be delivered?
Accessibility: Is the third-party tool/service accessible? The University has a legal obligation to ensure any technology students use meets accessibility standards (see the university Policy on Inclusive Practice in Teaching and Learning). Can students with specific learning requirements or disabilities use the technology easily, for example, a blind student who needs to use a screen reader? It is important that tools/services are designed to be inclusive so that students do not need to reveal their disability or be excluded from taking part in teaching and learning. Does the tool/service have an accessibility statement with details of how students with disabilities can use it?
Data Protection: As an organisation, the University is legally obliged to ensure that adequate protections are given to Personal Data, which includes names and email addresses. Avoid using ‘free/freemium’ or ‘paid for’ technologies for personal data wherever possible. If you do need to use them, consult with Information Management and Policy Services (IMPS) (Email firstname.lastname@example.org ) for advice on what requirements will be needed to ensure University obligations are met.
Passwords: With the exception of Office 365 apps, do not use your university password when registering/using online tools / services, especially in combination with your university email address. Pick a different, strong and unique password.
Provider terms and conditions and university policies: When using any technology, users should abide by the provider’s terms and conditions and relevant university policies, including:
- Information Security Policy,
- IT User Regulations policy,
- Policy for the Recording and Digital Delivery of Teaching.
- Software Usage and Control Policy
- Policy on Inclusive Practice in Teaching and Learning