Knowledgebase: Software
Academic Computing: Software Guidelines
Updated: 10 February 2021 01:36 PM

In this document


As a part of the Guidelines for Hybrid and Online Course Delivery OCAD University committed to:

Use technologies, tools and platforms in ways that are attentive to the situational differences of students related to geography, language, social or economic status, and ability such that our hybrid and online learning environments do not reproduce or create systemic barriers to learning; review and address new needs and barriers as they arise.

If we require students to use a tool that’s not supported by the University, we’re also asking our students to:

  • Take risks with their privacy and potentially violate FIPPA
  • Use a tool with unknown accessibility that does not align with AODA
  • Use a tool that no one has consented to
  • Use a tool that may not work, be barred or illegal in their geographic region
  • Introduce new learning curves for something that duplicates a tool they already have
  • Not leverage prior knowledge of current tools they have at their disposal
  • Use a tool that might not align with the Course or Program Level learning outcomes, wishes or goals of the Program Chair
  • Use a tool that is incompatible with a student’s laptop or OS.
  • Expect little troubleshooting or learning support from the University
  • Potentially incur additional cost beyond the current Laptop Program fees
  • Bear the anxiety created by any of these changes

Please avoid Third-Party Applications not Licensed or Supported by the University.

OCAD University IT Services supports undergraduate and graduate student and faculty creativity with technology on campus with a multitude of software packages. Both in Computer Studios and the Laptop Program, IT Services engages with Deans, Chairs and Faculty to find the best combination of creative fit, ease of use and lowest, reasonable cost for students and the institution alike. Evaluating, licensing, installing, maintaining, communicating and supporting training tools for software involves effort and cost, as well as students and faculty learning and using software. OCAD U needs to moderate the number of software packages available to provide a good academic computing experience.

Currently Supported Software

IT Services currently supports the following Software packages for use at OCAD U, for specific curriculum.

Desktop/Laptop Applications

For a list of software in use at OCAD U see: Download Software

Cloud Services

Cloud services include Microsoft 365 and Adobe Creative Cloud. For a list of services available see: Sites and Services

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Process for Adding New Software

·       Faculty and Chairs propose Software for specific courses by the New/Revised Course Approval Deadline for inclusion the next academic year.

·       IT Services in consultation with the Chair conducts a Software Review.

Unfortunately, there is not sufficient time to add software once this point in the semester has passed.


1.       Student Laptop Software: Commercial Paid
If the software is for student Laptops, there is a cost and fee approval process. Proposals need to be approved via (committees listed in order):

1. Faculty Curriculum Committee, ICTG Project Assessment Group, Senate Undergraduate Studies Committee or Senate Graduate Studies Committee, Senate

2. Audit, Finance and Risk Committee, Board of Governors

2.      Student Laptop Software: Free and Open Source & Commercial Free
If the software is for Student Laptops, and there is no cost, proposals need to be approved via:

1.  Program Chair, Associate Dean

2. Director, Academic Computing & Innovation

3.      Institutional Computer Studios: Commercial 
If the software is for institutional Computer Studios, proposals need to be approved by

1. ICTG Project Assessment Group

2. Capital Budget Process or a Faculty Operating Budget

4.      Institutional Computer Studios: Free and Open Source & Commercial Free
If the software is for institutional Computer Studios, and there is no cost, proposals need to be approved via:

1.  Program Chair, Associate Dean

2. Director, Academic Computing & Innovation


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Software Review

Software is reviewed on an on-going basis in a variety of contexts including:

  • Curriculum Proposals
  • Program Level Institutional Quality Assurance Process
  • Laptop Program triannual student surveys


Curricular Fit

1.       Pedagogy: How does the software used to meet the learning outcomes of specific courses and the program overall?

2.      Pedagogy: What is the fit with current curriculum and pedagogy? At what point in the curriculum will it be introduced?

3.      Duplication: Is the software unique and necessary or is it a duplication of tools and functions among software titles used in specific programs?

4.      Art, Design and Industry Use: Is it the amongst the best of its kind available? Is it used in contemporary Art and Design practice? Is it some kind of industry standard?

5.      Learning Curve: Is it hard to use? How do faculty and students learn how to use the software?

6.      Teaching: Do faculty and students know how to use the software? Who teaches the software to the students? How do students learn how to use it?

7.      Platform & OS: What OS and platforms does the software run on? Can OCAD U’s academic computing environment support the system requirements? Is the software reliable and stable on our platforms? Can we support it?


8.      What is the licensing model?

9.      Is it a term subscription or perpetual licensing?

10.    What are the usage terms? Can it be used in an instructional context?

11.     Is it a cloud service, on-premises hosted or a blend of the two?


12.    Is it costly? How do we buy it? Who are the users and what are the quantities? How do we negotiate with the vendor?

13.     What is the license cost for on-premises use? Is there budget approval for the spend?

14.    What is the cost for student laptops?

a.      Do the Licensing terms and conditions allow OCAD U to distribute and manage the software to students and faculty?

b.      Can OCAD U IT Services and the Finance Department recover costs by charging a discounted fee for any given fiscal year as per negotiated licensing agreements?

c.      Is there demonstrated value to the students in terms of discounted pricing and access to the software?

d.      Is the software applicable to an entire program? A program fee is recommended: course fees require manual processes.

15.     Timely identification, selection and approval of software so that licensing terms can be negotiated

16.    What capacity do we have to support the software?

Contractual Obligations

17.     Is there a Software Licensing Agreement that OCAD University’s signing authority signs? Or is it a click-through for students/faculty?

18.     What are the terms, risk, duration and liability of the Software Licensing Agreement?

19.    Is the software allowed to be used in an instructional context?

20.   Are the Software Licensing Agreements compliant with AODA and FIPPA?

a.      Does the software itself attempt to be compliant with AODA requirements?

b.      Is there a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template available and does the software meet requirements?

c.      Is the software a web application, and does it state the W3C Web Content Accessibility compliance level? Is it Level A, AA or AAA? When was the application last tested and by whom? Does the application have any third-party certifications for its accessibility (National Federation for the Blind [US])

d.      Does the software use browser plugins or special technology like Java, Adobe Flash or Microsoft Silverlight that may inhibit use of the Mac OS X Voiceover or Windows screen reader software?

e.      Personal Information:

                                               i.     Is any Student Personal Information shared with a software vendor or Third-Party?

                                              ii.     Is the data stored outside of Ontario?

                                            iii.     What is the private data used for?

                                             iv.     Why would a Privacy Impact Assessment not be required?

                                              v.     Are Vendor contracts compliant with FIPPA? Do they mention FIPPA, FERPA or PHIPPA?

21.    What is the General Liability and Institutional Risk of using the Software?

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Optional Software

  • IT Services does not support optional software except in the case of Pilots (see below). Tools are either required, or not. Making software optional is programmatically difficult to manage, not recommended and we cannot support it.

Trial Software

  • IT Services does not support or endorse the use of Trial Software or its installation on institutional or student computers and it may be a violation of the End User License agreement to use Trial software in an instructional context.

Personally Owned Software

  • IT Services does not support the installation of personally owned software on institutionally owned computers. 

Free and Open Source Software

OCAD University supports the adoption and use of Free and Open Source Software in the curriculum, by faculty, by the University to run its enterprise systems. Some commercial software developers choose to make software available to students and faculty free under specific license agreements and purposes. In any software choice, OCAD University must balance the needs of curriculum and faculty with the needs of students, and the overall student experience.


·       Free and Open Source software benefits users through improved accessibility for all users by lowering upfront cost.

·       Commercial Free software provides the added benefit of being industry standard options, improving professional opportunities for students.

·       Open Source Software fulfills needs unmet by commercial options and promotes maker culture by participation in the development of the software.


  • Not all needs are met by Free and Open Source Software, including the quality, stability, privacy and security of Free and Open Source software.
  • Commercial free software still has a licensing agreement and often requires the disclosure of private information, and may require a Privacy Impact Assessment.
  • All software has a Licensing Agreement. Some Licensing Agreements have security, privacy and legal implications for the University. Strictly speaking, only the Director of Finance in consultation with the Chief Information Officer can bind the University in legal agreements.
  • Not all needs can be met by Free and Open Source Software, including the quality, stability, privacy and security of Free and Open Source software

Commercial Software

OCAD University supports the adoption and use of commercial software across the curriculum. Negotiating licensing deals with commercial software developers provides professional software at reasonable cost for students and the institution.


  • Commercial software often provides wide-adoption by consumers and professionals, providing improved professional opportunities for students and faculty
  • Commercial software often provides high quality, professionally developed, frequently updated, patched, long-term tools. Vendors frequently provide support and listen to customer requests for new features
  • Large user communities mean rich online resources for student learning
  • Many vendors provide educational pricing and negotiate


·       Some commercial options pose accessibility issues: either they are priced outside of the reach of higher-education, or have prohibitively complicated distribution options

·       All software has a Licensing Agreement. Some Licensing Agreements have security, privacy and legal implications for the University.


All software, commercial, free or open source has a licensing agreement that defines the terms of use that is bound by law. Every developer of software has a different methods and terms for licensing its software for use in education.

·       Only the Director of Finance of OCAD University can legally bind the institution to an agreement. If you click “I Agree” within a software product, you are personally agreeing to terms provided within.

·       Software procured by OCAD University or used at the institution requires compliance with specific provincial legislation including:

o    AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act)

o    FIPPA (Freedom of Information and Privacy Protection Act)

·       Licensing agreement have set durations, terms and limitations. In some cases, it prevents or restricts the way in which we can use that software

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Pilots and Exceptions

Sometimes, there is no reasonable alternative to a software package required for teaching, due to University closure or extenuating circumstances.


Innovation: there is some new curricular requirement and a particular tool meets that need that was not captured a part of the curriculum process.

Unique Use Case: there is an existing, specific curricular requirement that cannot be fulfilled by existing tools or there is an availability issue.

Urgency: there is some urgency to solving the issue.


Any pilot or exception must:

  • Be brought to the attention of IT Services before well before it starts (not retroactively) so it can be documented and reviewed
  • Be entirely optional for students in the course. Pilots or exceptions cannot be mandatory and exceptions or accommodations must be made for students. Remember, software that has not been vetted may have issues with:
    • Accessibility
    • Privacy
    • Performance or access in specific geographic regions
    • System requirements for student computers
  • Include the documented informed consent of all students participating

Starting the Process

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What Should I Do if A Software Vendor Contacts Me or Encourages me to Use their Product?

1. Direct their attention to this document and the University's obligations to Provincial, Federal law and the Curriculum approval process.

2. Contact Andrew McAllister at x304 or for assistance. 

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Questions and Feedback

If you have questions or feedback about this document, you may direct it to the Director, Academic Computing & Innovation by emailing or Submit a Ticket at