Skip to Main Content

Learning Technology Team

NILE Help, Support & Training

Information for Staff

Using unsupported or external tools

While the University provides a wide range of tools to all students to support teaching, learning and assessment (in particular, the various NILE tools and Microsoft Office 365), there are many more freely available tools out there on the web that you may want to use with your students. Such tools are generally referred to as 'unsupported tools' or 'external tools', because they are outside the control of the University and you and your students are not able to access help, support or training from any professional services departments (e.g., the Learning Technology Team, IT Services, Staff Development, etc.) at the University when using these tools. However, if you are digitally confident, capable, and familiar with the external tool that you want your students to use, you may be happy to use these tools anyway, and you can often find training on how to use the tool for your students on LinkedIn Learning for UON Students. Nevertheless, before using an external/unsupported tool with your students we recommend that you read the information on our 'What is NILE, and why use it?' page.

The University does not prohibit the use of external tools to support teaching and learning activities (although such tools should not normally be used for summative assessment unless the end product or an appropriate record for retention can be downloaded and submitted for assessment via NILE - see below), but it does require you to take the following into account before using them:

Main risks of using external/unsupported tools:

  • The tool provider may decide to withdraw the tool completely and with little notice;
  • If tool is free to use, the provider may decide to restrict which parts of the tool are free, and which require a payment, or may decide to move the entire tool to a paid-for subscription only model.

Assuming that you accept the above risks and have a backup plan in place in case they happen, staff who want to use external tools will need to get permission from IT Services prior to use. To obtain permission to use an external tool, please go to the UON Service Desk at, select 'Log a Request' and choose 'New Service Request'.  

Using external/unsupported tools for assessed work

In order to comply with Office for Students (OfS) regulations, external/unsupported tools should not normally be used for summative assessment unless the end product can be downloaded and submitted for assessment via NILE. This is because the OfS require student assessments to be available for scrutiny by them for up to five years after the end of a student's programme of studies. By submitting work for assessment in NILE, this OfS regulation will be automatically adhered to. However, if the actual item of assessment cannot be submitted to NILE, it may be sufficient to submit a record of the assessed item in a different format (this is referred to by the OfS as 'an appropriate record for retention'). Examples of appropriate records for retention could include: video recordings of performances or presentations; screencapture recordings of websites or other online/digital artefacts; photographs of artworks, sculptures, and other 2D and 3D physical artefacts.

If you require assistance with NILE, please contact LearnTech Support using the NILE Enquiry Form

If you require assistance with PebblePad, please contact PebblePad Support using the PebblePad Contact Form