Canvas External Apps Integration Process

Apps are third-party tools that integrate with Canvas using a technical standard called LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability). There are a large number of these available for Canvas. The External App Integrations page provides a list of integrated tools in UNM Canvas as well as others in progress. Once a project has been prioritized and work begins, it is added to the External App Integrations page.

Integrating external tools with Canvas is a very powerful feature, however vendors tend to underplay the amount of effort it takes to bring a new integration into the UNM Canvas ecosystem. Evaluating integrations is a time-intensive process and involves the exchange and evaluation of information between multiple parties. This process typically takes multiple months to complete. Workload, scheduling, funding considerations, or issues encountered during evaluation can extend implementation by months, years, or indefinitely. During this process, we maintain communication with the requestor to let them know the status.

Overview: The approval process consists of the following four phases – 1) Prioritization; 2) Software Agreement: Security and Privacy Review for the Vendor/Tool; 3) Pre-Production Canvas Testing, Evaluation, and Final Approval; 4) Canvas Production Rollout.

Phase 1: Prioritization

If you have a request for a tool that is not listed, you can send it to All requests must come from a UNM sponsor (e.g., faculty, department, IT Officer); we do not act on requests from vendors that do not include a UNM sponsor. Please be aware we still receive many UNM-sponsored requests, and tools that are used for a small number of courses are much less likely to move forward than tools that are broadly adopted across many courses or multiple departments. Tools that are approved to move forward enter a project queue. Once work is able to begin, there are a number of places where a vendor/tool may fail to meet UNM requirements. All requirements must be met before a tool can be fully implemented and made available for use in courses.

A source of funding (e.g., departmental, institutional, student pay) must be identified or budgeted to pay any licensing or other fees. If students will be paying to use the tool, arrangements must be made to ensure billing/payment collection in a compliant manner. If your department has licensed a product prior to requesting an integration in Canvas, it will still be subject to prioritization in line with other projects already in our queue.

Phase 2: Software Agreement: Security and Privacy Review for the Vendor/Tool

By design, Canvas shares data with all third-party tool integrations, which requires the tools be analyzed to ensure compliance with federal law. It is important to note that any tool used at UNM that involves student access and data must meet compliance standards regardless of whether it is accessed via Canvas or directly (e.g., via the vendor’s website).

This analysis includes specifics on the UNM student data that would be sent to the vendor as part of tool usage, such as Directory information (e.g., names of students) and/or FERPA-protected data (e.g., grades, class schedules, etc.). This information is then evaluated for approval by the UNM IT Information Security and Privacy Office (ISPO), UNM student data stewards (Registrars), UNM Purchasing (whether zero cost, student-billable, or departmentally-licensed models), and sometimes other units such as the Office of the Provost, Office of University Counsel, etc.

As part of the UNM Purchasing step, vendors must sign a UNM Content Integration Agreement (or a similar document) that addresses concerns like data security, privacy, and marketing limitations to protect UNM students. At times, these contracts may require multiple rounds of redlines and revisions between University Counsel, UNM Purchasing, and the vendor's legal department. Depending on the responsiveness of the vendor, issues encountered, legal questions, etc., these processes can take multiple months and sometimes longer.

Phase 3: Pre-Production Canvas Testing, Evaluation, and Final Approval

Once the security and privacy approvals are complete, the request for an integration with Canvas enters an installation and testing phase. A system administrator evaluates the configuration requirements from the vendor and enables the tool within a test environment. If there are no insurmountable problems with the configuration, the tool is carefully evaluated by the UNM Canvas Support team to ensure it operates with the UNM Canvas configuration. This includes compatibility checking related to section groups, roles/permissions, etc., and testing business processes/workflow, from adoption of the tool to using it for content creation in the course to student access and use.

During this stage, the team also engages the requesting administrative unit/college/department as needed to test functionality. The functional testing is an important step to ensure that the tool meets desired needs and UNM support technicians can provide adequate support for the tool.

Provided no issues are uncovered during this phase (e.g., inconsistencies with advertised functionality, incompatibilities with UNM’s configuration, etc.), the integration is considered approved and a production rollout is planned.

Phase 4: Canvas Production Rollout

Once the integration has passed technical and functional testing, the team prepares to add the tool to Canvas for use in courses. When determining a launch date, the team considers multiple factors such as semester cycles, course development, departmental needs, licensing, etc., to deploy the change at a time that is least disruptive and most beneficial.

The Canvas Support team finalizes faculty and student documentation and plans any needed faculty and student communication. Finally, the tool is migrated to Canvas and made available for use in courses.