Remote Learning and Work Resources for Employees

Work Anywhere: A Technology Checklist for Maintaining Continuity

Once you have approval to work from home (i.e., you have worked with your supervisor to develop a work plan that includes defined deliverables), you will need to evaluate your technology environment to ensure you are able to work remotely.

How to maintain continuity in your work when you can’t be in the office or classroom

Both for routine and extraordinary events, it is helpful to be prepared to use technology tools that can help you stay connected with workplace and courses from a remote location.

This checklist offers useful faculty and staff resources that facilitate telecommuting and working remotely.  We also recommend that you stay in touch with your building IT support staff for guidance on best practices and resources for working remotely.

Working remotely as an employee

Get Prepared! Tools and Technology You’ll Need:

  • Make sure you know your passwords!
  • Ensure your devices are secure and you have a process for backing up any local data.
  • Gather the supplies you need to effectively do your job and communicate with others. These may include:
    • Microphones & speakers for conference calls (if your computer does not have them built-in)
    • Power adapters
    • Keyboard & mouse (if you’ll be working from a laptop)
  • Test your home Internet connection (see below for technology tips to manage your work using lower-speed connections)
  • Consider the files and applications you’ll need to use, and test them before beginning remote work.
  • If you will be taking Truman equipment to a remote location for more than two weeks, you must fill out a request to take equipment off-campus.

If you need help while working remotely, visit https://its.truman.edu/get-help/ to browse our self-help information,   request service, or submit a help ticket.  You can call 660-785-4544 for assistance and we will respond to you as quickly as possible.

Your Devices

  • If you have Truman issued equipment you will be using remotely, discuss any specific needs you may have with your ITS building support technician to see if Remote Desktop is an option:
    • If it is an option, work with ITS to set it up and try connecting from home before remote work begins.
  • If needed, make sure that you can connect to Truman’s Private Network (VPN) from home. The VPN provides secure remote access from a user’s machine to restricted/private resources across a public network and is used to conduct operations involving the exchange of secure information:
  • Truman State University’s virtual desktop environment is available from your personal devices to give you access to the same software and resources available in our public computer labs and classrooms. You can access these resources even when you are off-campus. The view client also gives access your network drives and library resources.
  • At home, try connecting to all the apps/sites that you use on a regular basis, such as:

Connecting to Truman’s Applications and Services

Connecting from home
For most types of work—email, cloud apps, collaboration platforms—you should be able to connect through your regular home Internet service, and can use your home computer (if it can connect to the Internet) or a Truman-issued system. Just navigate to the sites you need to use and log in using your Truman Username and password.

If you have slow or no broadband Internet at home
If you don’t have Internet at home, or if your connection speed is too slow to allow you to work the same way you would if you were at Truman, be sure to let your supervisor and co-workers know, and come up with a plan for how to keep collaboration flowing. You could connect periodically to send and receive email and files, share files through a removable ‘thumb’ drive, or use a cellular hotspot.

If your connection speed is slow, review the following for compensation strategies:

Step 1: Find out your connection speed

Knowing your connection speed can help you figure out what your connection can handle. It’s good to try multiple speed tests to get a full picture of your speed over time—reliable options for speed tests include Ookla, Speed of Me, and DSL Reports.

Here are some basic minimums:

      • For general web surfing, email, or social media 1 Mbps
      • For video conferencing 1-4 Mbps
      • For standard definition (SD) video streaming 3-4 Mbps
      • For HD video streaming 5-8 Mbps

Step 2: Explore connection speed improvements with local service providers

Contact your Internet carrier and inquire about the availability and cost of higher tiers of service. You can also consider obtaining a WiFi hotspot from a local cellular carrier, or tether to your mobile device (be aware that this may raise your data costs). Many Internet and cellular carriers are offering discounts on Internet service upgrades during this pandemic, and many have signed a pledge not to cancel service or charge late fees during this crisis.

Many carriers and some government programs are also offering low-cost Internet plans that may be available in your area.

Here are a few possible other service options to review:

Step 3: Reduce the load on your connection

If your connection meets the minimum 1 – 1.5 Mbps requirement, you will still need to do some optimizing to get your work done. When it’s time for online work, be sure that the connection is as unburdened as possible. Talk with your family and consider setting up a schedule for when coursework, gaming, entertainment, or other uses will take place will help free up this resource for academic work.

Consider installing a WiFi router that uses ‘smart queueing’ to improve performance when your Internet connection is being used by multiple applications and/or users.  Read more about how ‘smart queuing’ can help at bufferbloat.net.

Many online applications (such as Zoom, for example) have the capability to dynamically adjust their bandwidth consumption depending on your connection. To further reduce your utilization of available bandwidth during a live-streamed lecture or conference, be sure to turn off your video.

Step 4: Connect through asynchronous means when possible

The activity that uses the highest amount of bandwidth is live-streamed multidirectional video and audio sharing. We are encouraging professors to pre-record lectures and other video content whenever possible so that during this crisis, there is less need for the most bandwidth-intensive types of content.

Step 5: Explore community WiFi options if needed

Multiple commercial carriers like Comcast/Xfinity and Charter/Spectrum are offering free WiFi connectivity at thousands of hotspot locations throughout the U.S. through the duration of this crisis. Check with your local providers for details.

Connecting through a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Many Truman applications and service platforms such as email, G Suite, Blackboard, Zoom, TruView, etc. do not need to connect through a VPN (virtual private network), however, there are several applications that do require VPN in order to make a connection.

If you are working in an application or service that can only be accessed through a Truman IP address, you might need to use the VPN, or Virtual Private Network. The VPN allows a user to appear as if they are logging in from within Truman’s Network. If you require a VPN, it’s a good idea to test the connection prior to starting remote work if possible. For more information visit:  https://secure.truman.edu/its-s/vpn/

Connect with Your Colleagues Via Video, Voice, Chat and Voicemail

  • If you need to use your Truman phone while working remotely, ensure that your call forwarding is enabled or that you can receive office calls through your laptop or mobile device. Alternatively, make sure your voicemail message provides alternative methods of contacting you.
  • Plan to meet with colleagues from afar with web-based conferencing tools such as Zoom or Google Meet.
  • You can access your voicemail while working remotely by either automatically forwarding all voicemail messages to your email or by logging in to your phone and checking voicemail in this way.  If you plan to log in and check your voicemail, make sure you know your voicemail password.
  • Google Chat will allow you to have a constant chat service open and available within a work group.

Safely Accessing Files, Shared Drives and Data

  • When working remotely, it is especially important to remain vigilant about data security. Make sure you are on the appropriate connection for each task; for example, use a VPN or other equally secure connection when handling sensitive or restricted data. Additionally, be aware of increased risk for phishing attempts. Check with your ITS building support staff to make sure you are equipped to work safely while off-campus.
  • You can access your Network Drives (Y: W: V:, etc.) through the use of a VPN.
  • Ensure that you have instructions on how to manually map a network drive, as this may be required after a remote system reboot.

Technology Resources for Teaching Remotely

A variety of technology tools are available for you to teach online whether you choose to deliver it synchronously via web conferencing applications or asynchronously by pre-recording your lectures. It is possible to record your synchronous web conferences and then share the recordings with any students who were unable to attend. It is up to the individual faculty member to decide if their recorded material should be uploaded online and its destination.

Zoom – 

Zoom is Truman’s web conferencing tool. It provides a platform on which to conduct live online conferences, presentations, lectures, meetings and group chats.  Instructors with Zoom Pro accounts can use Zoom inside Blackboard to schedule conferences with students and to capture daily lecture sessions.  Outside of Blackboard, Zoom Pro and Basic accounts can be used to record mini-lectures, tutorials, and other content to supplement course resources.  Zoom instructions and resources.

Truman has currently exhausted all Pro licenses available.  Contrary to previous instructions you MAY now create Basic accounts with your Truman email. Go to http://Zoom.us   Click the “Sign-Up, It’s Free” link, and follow the on-screen prompts.  DO use your Truman email account and a password you will make up.  Truman is getting more Pro licenses for faculty, and you can be upgraded when the new licenses are available.

Microsoft PowerPoint – 

Microsoft offers instructions on how to add or record audio to your PowerPoint slides, which you can then save and distribute as a video file.  Librarian Carol Lockhart can assist with this technique.   clockhar@truman.edu | 660-785-7417

Blackboard – 

There are many support resources inside Blackboard, on Hoonuit, and on the LTT & ID website.  This short list of the basic Blackboard techniques and tools will help you get started using Blackboard for remote teaching.

The Multimedia Lab & Studios 

Located on the second floor of the library (PML 203), the lab is outfitted with 15 computer systems optimized for multimedia production, including 10 iMacs and 5 Windows systems.  The Studios feature specialty tools and spaces for recording videos and participating in videoconferences.  Though available for walk-in use, it will be necessary to reserve these spaces to ensure you get the time needed for your project.  You can reserve a studio, see a list of resources available in the lab, and find additional information on the Multimedia Lab website.

Hoonuit

Truman State University has partnered with Hoonuit for online technology training and support. Through this partnership, Truman is able to provide learning opportunities that make it easy for learners of all ages to embrace technology and develop critical skills for success at school, at work, and in life.  The Hoonuit catalog has over 50,000 training modules available to choose from.

There are many other tips and resources guides available on the Learning Technologies website, and please do not hesitate to reach out to members of the Learning Technologies & Instructional Design Team  660-785-7750 | ltt@truman.edu

Continuous Collaboration

In addition to the resources noted above, Truman has also enrolled all faculty into a Blackboard course designed for continued collaboration.  When you log in to Blackboard, you should have access to the course titled:  Online Teaching Workspace – this course has a wealth of information and other resources available for teaching remotely.

Accessibility

When you need to move coursework online quickly, it’s easy to lose track of everything that needs doing. This list provides guidance on making your course materials accessible to ensure you are providing materials that all students can use without accommodation.

 

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