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Please note, any tool other those officially supported by the university are considered third-party technologies, and no technical support is provided these tools.

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Implementing 3rd party technologies – Pros & Cons

It is possible use technologies in addition to hose supported by the university to enhance your course. The university embraces the use of new and innovative technologies in education and in its interactions, including those technologies developed by third parties. These tools include educational software or services developed and owned by third parties, including those linked to textbooks, in-class surveys, lecture capture, virtual classrooms, course assignments and quizzes can be invaluable tools for the development and teaching of courses.

However, it is important to ensure that we use caution when integrating external (3rd party) technologies. There are two important points to consider before you introduce an external technology into your course: 


1) Student privacy & security

Security and privacy of student data is extremely important to Concordia. The institutionally-supported technologies have been vetted by the legal department and meet the standards put forward by the University. However, Concordia University Educational Technology Guidelines for Faculty and Students indicate that students must consent to the use of a third party that collects personal information:

Further to this, the Guidelines state:

Therefore, if you choose to use a third-party technology:


2) Rationale for Implementing technology

It is often tempting to want to try new innovative tools that offer new ways of doing things. However, due to the fact that implementing a new technology to a course has many implications, such as the associated security and privacy concerns, accessibility issues, and the need to learn a new tool, etc., it should be done only when necessary.

When implementing a tool, first consider the purpose. Implementing a new technology should not be taken lightly and should have a rationale (see list below). These rationales usually come in the form of instructional problems. Any of the following four rationales (Adapted from: Loble, 2014) can justify technology integration of a new tool.

 

What is your rationale for integrating new technologies into your course?

Technologies should not be implemented into teaching simply for the sake of having technology. Effectively-integrated technology serves a specific purpose. Any of the following four rationales (Adapted from: Loble, 2014) can justify technology selection.

 

1 Make resources, materials or interactions (more) accessible
  • For students with certain disabilities, providing digital versions of content online can improve access to the course and make students more self-reliant. These include: lecture slides, readings, assignment information, lecture recordings (with captions), etc.

  • Certain technologies, like a Learning Management System (LMS), make it possible for instructors to post supplementary resources (i.e. readings, videos, etc.) for those students who may need additional support outside the classroom.

  • There are also certain types of media or online activities, such as videos, branching activities, simulations, field-specific software and virtual field trips that give students the opportunity to explore the content in ways that are sometimes just not possible in the classroom.

2 Improve learning outcomes
  • Technologies such as digital documents, wikis, blogs, quizzes, and discussion forums can be used to help students demonstrate their understanding of a subject. These may be alternatives to a typical writing assignment or an informal way of assessing students.

  • Technologies also support pedagogies that promote active learning such as the flipped classroom approach. Active learning strategies require students to engage with the content through writing, discussions, and problem solving and other tasks in order to promote higher-order thinking skills instead of being passive listeners. 

  • As previously noted, technologies also provide opportunities to explore content, practice skills and engage more deeply with content through videos, simulations, field-specific software and virtual field trips that might not otherwise be possible through a lecture.

3 Create opportunities for continuous improvement
  • Some technologies provide useful feedback for instructors about student learning. For example, digital quiz results can be quickly analyzed for patterns of incorrect answers while online discussion forums allow instructors to clearly see students' thinking on difficult concepts - something that is not possible in large classes. The instructor can take this information and make changes to instruction based on the needs of the students. These adjustments might include: supplementary resources, review lectures, in-class problems, rethinking the syllabus for the following semester, etc.

  • Certain technologies also facilitate feedback for students. When set up properly, digital quizzes give students immediate feedback on incorrect answers to help them clarify misconceptions. Other tools can make it easier for the instructor to provide specific feedback on assignments and discussions throughout the course.

4 Make any of the activities or processes more efficient for either students or instructors
  • There is no doubt that some technologies make us more efficient. If a technology will help you save time or simplify any process related to teaching, this is also a good rationale for adopting a technology.

  • As an example, you may decide to use the LMS to administer and grade assignments to save you time and keep an electronic record of all assignments, grades and feedback. Other examples include digital tools for tracking attendance and an FAQ forum in the LMS to reduce the number of emails.


First check what technologies the University has to offer

Before you look outside of the institutionally-supported toolkit, first look at the tools available, particularly those in Moodle. Moodle offers a wide variety of activities that can be used to host a wide range of pedagogical activities. See the full list of Moodle Activities. You may also want to consult the CTL (teaching@concordia.ca) or the Moodle team (moodle@lists.concordia.ca) for guidance on selecting the appropriate tool for your needs.

If you find that none of the university tools meet your needs, then it is reasonable to seek out external tools if it solves an instructional problem. 

 


Common technology needs and suggested solutions

Below are some common instructional situations with some possible external solutions and the type of student information collected. 

Please note: the tools noted below are not supported or endorsed by Concordia. They are provided as examples of possible options given the instructional problem. Instructors are advised to refer to the Guidelines when implementing any third-party technology.

 

I want to improve student engagement with the learning materials

Instructional situation Possible Tool Student Information Collected
Need to improve engagement with Course reading materials to evaluate learning Perusall Students need to sign up for an account and provide: email, fist & last name.*
Need to improve engagement with course videos to evaluate learning EdPuzzle Students need to sign up for an account by creating a username and providing: first & last name.*
Need to improve understanding on important course concepts myDALITE Instructors create student accounts using email addresses.

I want to present my course materials in a more dynamic way

Instructional situation Possible Tool Student Information Collected
Need to create an instructional video that shows annotations, drawings, writing formulas, etc. A tablet with a stylus or Bluetooth pencil No student data required when you post your videos on YuJa course channel.
Need to do annotations, drawings, writing formulas, etc. during a Zoom session A tablet with a stylus or Bluetooth pencil

No student data required.

*Download the Zoom app and run the meeting from your tablet. Enable screen mirroring to display your annotations, drawings, etc.

It is suggested to run the meeting as co-host from both your tablet and computer/laptop to be able to switch between annotating and slides.

Need to create interactive images to help better explain pictures & diagrams ThingLink

Instructor creates the image and students can interact without signing up.

Provides the option of instructor-created student accounts for student annotation abilities.


I want my students to collaborate with each other

Instructional situation Possible Tool Student Information Collected

Need a place for students to collaborate on a document easily

Google Docs, 

Slides & Sheets

If the instructor creates the document and shares it with a link, students are not required to sign up for an account. No data collected. Students can write their first names next to their contributions if appropriate.

If the instructor requires students to sign in to contribute to the document, students will need to sign up for a Google account and provide: email, fist & last name.*


How to evaluate external technology tools

Before you implement an external tool - particularly if it will require students to provide their personal information - it is important to evaluate it to make sure it will suit your needs, be accessible and appropriate. 

The following rubric provides a set up questions to help evaluate tools under the following dimensions:

  • Functionality

  • Accessibility

  • Technical

  • Mobile Design 

  • Social, Teaching & Cognitive Presences

  • Privacy, Data Protection & Rights

     

Check out this article to help you determine if a tech tool is right for you and your students: A Rubric for Evaluating E-learning Tools in Higher Education


Reference

Loble, M. (2014). Emerging Trends & Technologies in the Virtual K-12 Classroom [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from www.coursera.com

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