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Third party apps and tools

In this article, Neil Hughes talks about third party apps and tools.
A smart phone and a tablet it faces are being used to access different applications. These are represented as three dimensional images floating between the two devices.
© University of Nottingham

Whilst universities typically host a wide range of tools and platforms, sometimes they may not have the one you need. In this case, you might want to think about third-party tools. As both Russell Stannard and Gary Fisher have explained, there are literally thousands of these on the market.

Although they have an important place in the field of blended and hybrid learning, they should be approached with caution! Whereas at first sight, they can seem like a silver bullet capable of solving all of your problems, they can suffer from reliability and security issues as well as incurring hidden costs. In some cases, they might even be banned by your institution. For these reasons, it’s important to exercise considerable care when choosing third party apps and tools. The types of questions I recommend you ask yourself when thinking about these are:

  • Is this tool really free or are there hidden costs or restrictions?
  • Does my institution support this tool?
  • How secure is my learners’ data?
  • Who owns the content?
  • Can we recover data and content if the provider goes bust and the tool collapses?

What has been your experience of third party tools? Use comments to share your reflections, good or bad, below.

© University of Nottingham
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