External Vendor Digital Tools in Teaching

External Vendor Digital Tools in Teaching

To enhance teaching and learning at the University of Oregon (UO), instructors may consider using a variety of digital tools, including tools that UO has already integrated into Canvas as well as new tools that UO has not yet reviewed and integrated.  

Instructors interested in utilizing external vendor digital tools in their teaching can: 

  • Explore whether a similar tool has already been integrated into UO’s Canvas system. 

  • Request an LTI integration to include a new tool within UO’s Canvas system. 

  • Choose a digital tool that will not be centrally supported by the university nor integrated within Canvas. 

Below you can find more information about the specific considerations for implementing an external digital tool.

If you have additional questions, we encourage you to consult with an Instructional Designer by contacting us here


Teaching Pillars:

Exploring tool integrations (LTIs) in Canvas

Many external digital tools have been created by third-party developers using Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) standards to work with Canvas.  These external tools are hosted on the tool vendor’s own server, and use the LTI standard to connect to and work seamlessly with Canvas.  We sometimes call these third-party tools because they were not designed by Canvas, and they are not directly supported by the UO or by Instructure (Canvas).  

UO performs formal security and accessibility reviews when considering whether to integrate an LTI tool with our Canvas instances. Security review is important because flaws with a third-party application could make FERPA-protected data in the whole system insecure. Accessibility review is important because vendors differ in their adherence to legally-required accessibility standards. 

For more information about what LTIs are currently available, see this Knowledge Base article on LTI Tools Status in Canvas . If you want to request a tool not on the list, please review this Canvas New Tool Request FAQ article. 

Individual instructor use of external tools  

What options does an instructor have if UO has not reviewed and approved a Canvas LTI that meets your specific teaching need? No UO policy de facto prevents UO instructors from using digital tools in their teaching that are not supported by the university. UO appreciates instructors’ creativity in experimenting with their teaching and with tools that may deepen student learning. Before adopting individual tools, you will want to consider security, accessibility, and cost—the same criteria formally evaluated in the Canvas LTI request process.  For more information about these criteria, please review the summaries below. 


For any tool that the UO is considering, there are important security components - data collection and storage in particular - that need to be tested and passed. Tools should not be considered when the vendor cannot provide proof of meeting established security standards.  

It is also essential to consider student privacy and consent. For instance, will the tool in question make student information accessible to others outside the class? Additionally, when students are required to create an account with external vendors, instructors should: convey to students what information will be captured/stored; allow pseudonyms or controlled access to student contributions; and provide alternatives for students who do not want to use the service. 

The Office of the Registrar has this form available for when students are using publicly accessible communication tools: Consent Form for Courses Using Blogs, Social Media or Other Publicly-accessible Communication Tools.    



When using digital tools, course materials and instruction need to be provided in an accessible format, and instructors need to be prepared to offer accommodations to students who face accessibility-related barriers to any digital tool. In some circumstances a lack of accessibility may make it inappropriate to use the tool.

The careful consideration of established accessibility standards, including current VPAT and WCAG standards, is fundamental to the UO’s digital tool review process. 


Is there a cost to students?  If so, this additional cost will need to be communicated to students at the point of registration or as part of the required course materials and resources listed on the syllabus.