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The University of Southampton
Digital Learning

What to consider before using an unsupported app or online service

Are you thinking of using an app or online service in your teaching which is not provided by the University? This guide explains what to consider first.

Does the University already have a supported app or service that allows the same outcomes?

iSolutions supports many systems and services. Before deciding to use an unsupported app or online service check that there is not already a University supported method that achieves the same or similar outcomes. Good places to check are the iSolutions web site and the elearning support site .  If you don’t find an answer there, you can search our knowledge base or raise a ticket .

What if you prefer an unsupported tool compared with a University tool that has the same functionality?

You may find that while a University supported tool does what you need, that you prefer using an alternative, for example because you prefer the interface or there are fewer interactions required to achieve the same result. Let iSolutions know by raising a ticket . It may turn out that there is a different approach you can take using the supported tool, or that a feature request could be raised to improve that tool. It’s also possible that iSolutions has reviewed the tool you prefer and chose not to licence it because, for example, it was found to have data privacy issues or did not meet accessibility guidelines.

In a choice between using an unsupported tool and a supported tool that achieves the same outcomes you should use the supported tool.

Data sensitivity and privacy issues to consider

Before they are introduced, centrally supported University services are required to have an Initial Data Protection Review, and possibly a Data Privacy Impact Assessment .  Using an unsupported app or online service means that this kind of assessment will not have taken place and there will be no recorded approval of its use by the Data Protection Impact Panel.

Therefore, if you choose to use an unsupported app or online service:



The Information Governance & Data Protection SharePoint site has more information. Contact to ask for information about data protection impact assessments that have been carried out so far, or for general advice.

Adam Procter, Programme Leader - Games Design & Art at WSA, maintains a list of online services you can use to check online tools and determine whether there are any particular security, privacy, or other risks in using them.


When the University implements an app or online service a whole framework of support is built around it. This includes help with queries and possibly training and guidance documentation, secure backups, and a service lifecycle ensuring that use of the tool can continue within a safe and reliable environment.

When using an unsupported app or service, particularly those offered on a free or ‘freemium’ model you do not have this assurance, so consider the following:



Copyright information and liabilities

Services may require you to waive your moral rights for content you create on their platform.  They may claim ownership or copyright to the materials you create or upload. Content you create and your user profile may be publicly visible. When you upload content to the site you may be expected to have clearance to use that content.



The University has a legal responsibility to ensure that the online tools and services it provides meet accessibility standards, this ensures they are can be used by the vast majority of our users, current and prospective students/staff, and collaborators, whatever their individual needs or situation.

If you choose to use an app or online service and require that other staff or students use it too then it is vital that the service meets accessibility standards.

This is important even if you believe that staff or students with whom you plan to use the tool do not have any impairments or conditions that would require you to consider this. For example, many impairments are not visible or may not be declared . Likewise, we may experience a temporary impairment such as breaking our dominant hand and causing a temporary inability to use a mouse, or a situational impairment where we don’t have any speakers on our device to hear what is said in a video and so rely on captions.



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