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Third Party Tools & Cloud Computing

 

Third Party Tools

Third party tools are unassociated (i.e. non-sponsored and without contractual agreement) resources from providers outside of the University. Many third party tools are highly specialized and perform a specific function very well.

Cloud Computing

Cloud computing includes any kind of computing task that uses hardware and/or software that is available on the Internet (or remote computers). Cloud computing allows you to access your materials from any web-enabled device and complete complex computer processes very quickly.

Important Considerations

Classroom Use

The classroom environment presents unique considerations for third party tools and cloud computing. For example, if you will be using a tool in an on-the-ground classroom during class time, all of your students will need access to a computer. This could mean the class is scheduled in a computer lab or it could mean each student is responsible for obtaining a device. If the tool is web-based, each device will need sufficient wireless connectivity.

Note that not all classrooms have the same wireless capability and not all tools make the same (or obvious) demands in terms of data transfer and wireless connectivity. Having a large number of students simultaneously use some tools in some classrooms could cause unexpected technical issues.

If you are planning on using a third party tool or cloud computing in the classroom, it is strongly recommended that you contact Classroom Technology Support (CTS), which can consult with you to help identify potential classroom-related issues and solutions.

Technical Support

The sheer variety of third party tools precludes UC Irvine staff from building and maintaining the expertise to provide IT support for third party tools. If you use third party tools, ensure that you have secured support for yourself and your students directly from the tool provider or have another plan for ensuring you will have the support you need if you encounter issues with those tools

Privacy

In most cases, a digital footprint is created each time you use a third party tool or a cloud computing service. Some tools require minimal information (i.e. email address), while others require extensive profile information (i.e. photos, personal information, assignment scores). As an instructor, you have access to seemingly innocuous information that might be subject to varying levels of protection. For example, students may restrict all or part of their directory information (i.e. name, email address) through the University Registrar.

As a general practice to protect student privacy when using any third party tools that are not directly supported by the campus, we strongly recommend inviting students to sign up rather than supplying any of their potentially protected information directly to a third party tool provider.

Security

When you use a third party tool, you submit data to the tool provider. This can include both information you disclose knowingly (i.e. your email address, name, an uploaded profile photo, a credit card number) and information the provider gathers automatically behind the scenes (i.e. your location, the type of computer/browser, other sites you visit later). When you use the tool, you are accepting a certain level of security risk, and you are asking your students to do the same. Whether a given tool is appropriate to use for your UC Irvine activities (or even for your personal use) is a matter of understanding the risks and making an informed decision.

Data Ownership

If a tool allows you to upload or create digital artifacts (i.e. images, documents, videos), the tool provider might automatically assume full or partial ownership of the artifact, even if it is only to allow for redistribution in a variety of formats. Prior to use, you might consider how you will be interacting with the tool. For example, will you be uploading data into the tool (i.e. presentations, assignments, sample dataset)? Will you need to extract information out of the tool (i.e. grades, final products, web-based conversations)? It is always a good idea to know your data ownership rights and to carefully review information about a service you are considering using to understand what if any rights that service provider may claim over content you create or store.

Getting Started

As a UC Irvine instructor, you have access to a variety of resources that can help you navigate the dynamic landscape of third party tools and cloud computing.

We can help you identify safe and effective uses of third party tools and cloud computing resources in your instruction. Please let us know if you have a specific tool you'd like to use, or an instructional need that you'd like to fulfill!

Available Resources

Instructional Cloud Computing Committee (IC3)

The Instructional Cloud Computing Committee (IC3) can provide guidance on the selection and use of third party tools, a comprehensive review of specific tools, and a directory of fully vetted tools. Additionally, in some cases, IC3 can work with a tool provider to establish a formalized UC Irvine agreement. Having an agreement with appropriate language in place helps to protect you and the University from accidentally allowing access and sharing of confidential information and sets forth various controls and responsibilities for the protection of your rights.

Classroom Technology Support (CTS)

Classroom Technology Support (CTS) can help you assess the suitability of classroom space for the use of a specific tool. CTS can help you identify suitable facilities and/or adjust plans based on the instructional needs.

The EEE Team

If you're not sure where to start, please feel free to contact the EEE team and we will be happy to help you find the most appropriate resource.