Adopting 3rd Party Technology Tools

A decision to adopt a new technology requires careful consideration on the part of the instructor. Some key considerations involve the educational benefits of adopting the tool and the challenges/risks that using the tool may pose for you and your students. This page lists some of the major factors to consider prior to integrating a third-party educational technology into your course.

> Choosing the best tool for your course

There is a multitude of educational technology tools and applications available to instructors these days. When choosing one that will be the best fit for a course, instructors should consider the following questions:

  • Will the tool/app enhance my instruction and motivate learners?
  • Am I just incorporating technology for the sake of incorporating technology?
  • How does this tool/app help my students meet the stated objectives/outcomes?
  • Will the tool/app encourage students to apply the content and learn the material, construct knowledge and/or promote critical thinking?
  • Is the tool/app easy to learn?
  • Have I included good instructions for the students to use the tool/app?

If you have answered those questions in the affirmative, you are ready to incorporate the tool/app.

> Six major considerations when adopting a tool

While the use of any tool to assist in teaching and learning is at the instructor’s discretion, it’s important to address the following six considerations:

  1. Alignment, or fit, with instructional goal or outcome.
    • Review institutionally supported tools to determine whether your instructional needs can be met before considering 3rd party tools
    • (see CITL’s Learning Technology Index). 
  2. Alternatives for students who cannot use the tool.
    • Having a “plan B” is important, regardless of the tool you are using. 
    • Students’ use may be limited by a variety of legitimate factors, barriers to accessibility; limits of their technology; or privacy concerns.
  3. Cost of tool, either to instructor or student.
    • Associated costs may be a deterrent for participation and can potentially impact the intended use. 
    • “Free” is not always “free” — some tools require personal details or data before access is granted; be sure you know what the company will do with your personal data.
    • Free versions of tools often come with less functionality or a limited time of free use.
  4. Privacy of students, and of any personal information.
    • Some tools collect and store user information, so it is important for you to understand why they are doing this and what the vendor does with the data.
  5. Security of data, including geographic location of where the data is stored.
    • It is not uncommon for data to be stored in other countries governed by privacy laws different from those in Canada. Be sure you read and understand the company’s data security policies.
  6. End-user license agreements and implications for intellectual property, for both instructors and students.
    • Some products assume a level of “ownership” and “permission for use” of works shared or created using the tool, or both.

The benefit of using a tool supported by the University is that the cost, privacy, intellectual property, and security questions have been addressed. Even for University supported tools considerations one and two are relevant.

> Instructor responsibilities

If an instructor chooses to use a tool that is not supported by the University, they are responsible for ensuring student privacy is protected and students are supported in their use of the tool.

In the event of a privacy breach associated with any tools (supported or unsupported) instructors must advise the University’s Information Access and Privacy (IAP) Office and follow their direction. 

This will include notifying the province’s Information and Privacy Commissioner. The students impacted may also need to be informed of the breach, depending on the risk of harm associated with the incident, pursuant to ss. 64(3) of the ATIPPA 2015.

Prepared in consultation with Memorial’s Information Access and Privacy (IAP) Office