Guidance on use of external IT services for learning and teaching

Image showing the logos for supported tools: Blackboard, Echo, Blackboard Mobile, Blackboard Collaborate and Google AppsGuidance on use of external IT services for learning and teaching

The University provides a suite of IT tools and services that may be used by academic staff to support learning and teaching activities, such as the Yorkshare VLE’s tool-set (see the E-Learning Development Team’s  brochure for details on the tools we support) and the University’s Google Apps for Education.

These tools may support a wide range of pedagogic scenarios and online learning activities, such as shared discussions, blogging activities, online seminars, collaborative seminars and group work through shared social media spaces.  However, we recognise that there may be circumstances where staff may wish to consider the use of unsupported tools run by external (third-party) services, such as Facebook and Twitter, for learning and teaching activities. When these circumstances arise, it is important to think about the terms and conditions of the external services and how your students will engage with them, addressing data protection arrangements, how access will be managed to student data and provision of takedown policies (e.g. controls for the deletion of defamatory postings on a public site).  It is also important to provide clear guidance to students on how these external services will be used in the course information that is available at the beginning of a module / programme of study, so students are aware of the activity and tools that will be involved.

The E-Learning Development has developed some guidance, which has been approved by University Teaching Committee and the University’s Information Security Board, which is intended to help think through some of the key issues relating to the use of external web services.

The documents are intended to help staff make informed choices about the centrally provided tool-set, providing guidance on University IT services and how they may be used to support different pedagogic scenarios. The documents also provide guidance on key considerations for use of external IT services, if there is a compelling use case which requires students to engage with external services as part of the formal requirements for the module or programme that they are studying.

For further details on the guidance documents or for general advice on the use of external IT services, please contact a member of the E-Learning Development Team or email us at

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