Many textbook publishers and other educational technology vendors provide content and materials that can be used in classes as additional material, usually linked through Canvas. However, before adopting third party content, there are some considerations that the instructor must make to make sure the experience works as well as possible for students, is accessible, and abides by campus data privacy requirements.
As a public institution, SF State is required to ensure that all course materials are accessible to students with disabilities. You can read more about the SF State Accessible Technology Initiative (ATI) on the ATI website. Any faculty member wishing to adopt content from a third party vendor must ensure that the vendor tool or content has an established accessibility policy document. For more information or to request assistance, check the guidance on the Accessible Instructional Materials website. Generally speaking, here are some points to consider:
- Are the videos captioned and audio transcribed?
- Can the content be accessed by a screen reader?
- Are all activities navigable and usable by a student using only a keyboard?
- Does the vendor have a VPAT or WCAG 2.1 AA compliance statement?
Note that if the vendor provides a homework tool or online quizzing that is completely outside of iLearn or Canvas, you must work with DPRC to ensure those tools are accessible before providing them to your students.
The campus provides support to faculty and students who use centrally managed, university provided tools such as iLearn, Canvas and Zoom. However, when the campus does not have a campus-wide agreement with a vendor, we are unable to offer direct support to students and instructors using the tools. Check with the vendor on what the support policy is, taking into consideration that the instructor who chooses to use a third party tool is necessarily the first point of contact for support for students. If the vendor provides support, make this information available to your students in your syllabus.
It is important to consider whether there is an additional cost to students who use the third party tool or platform. While cost is something that is always considered when choosing a textbook, publisher platforms often have an additional cost or fee for accessing their online tools. Carefully consider these costs and fully disclose them to students in your syllabus if choosing to use a third party tool. Check to see if there are alternatives to the platform. For online quizzes, see if the vendor provides a question bank that can be imported into iLearn or Canvas rather than requiring that students purchase and log in to a separate website just to complete course work.
Online tools that require that students create accounts or otherwise have students disclose information about themselves including names, emails and SFSU IDs must abide by campus data security and privacy policies. More information about IT Security practices and directives can be found on the ITS Security website. In general, here are some points to consider:
- What is the vendor's privacy and security policy? Is it published and public?
- What information is the vendor collecting about students?
- What is the vendor's copyright policy as it pertains to student work?
Students at SF State use a wide variety of computing tools and devices to access online content. When choosing a third party tool, consider the following:
- Does it require installation of software on a student's device?
- Students may not have a device that they can install software on
- Does the tool require browser plugins such as flash or java?
- Browsers are increasingly dropping support for plugins. Flash, for example, is no longer supported as of December 31, 2020, so tools requiring the use of Flash will not work for students any longer
- Does the tool work on mobile devices?
- Students are increasingly using mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets to connect to online, campus provided tools. Mobile devices may not fully support third party tools that require the installation of software or specialized plugins