Tech Questions for Working Remotely? Duke's TTS Team Has You Covered

The scoop on tech guidelines, suggestions and resources​

Published March 17, 2020

Written by Mary Brophy Marcus with Alonzo Felder and Patrick Daniels

Images of working from home

Hello DGHI-ers. We know many of you are beginning to work remotely. So, we asked the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences Office of Technology Services (TTS) team for guidelines, suggestions and resources to ensure connectivity and support during this period of COVID-19 concern. They’ve provided a useful resource site for assisting those planning for remote teaching during an emergency, says Alonzo Felder, IT Analyst for DGHI and West Campus Support.

First things first

For starters — and it may seem obvious, but just saying — when you pack up your laptop to take it home to work and/or teach remotely, don’t forget your charger cord. And no, you do not need to lug your desktop computer home. TTS has an inventory of loaner laptops for individuals who do not have Duke-issued laptops or personal devices at home to connect to Duke resources. The current work-from-home situation is being viewed as temporary and you are encouraged NOT to move docking stations, monitors and peripheral devices (keyboards, speakers, etc.) out of your office and to your home. 

And never fear, you will not be left to solve IT challenges alone. TTS has communication, collaboration and remote support tools that allow them to continue to see and respond remotely to “help” tickets, phone calls and emails. Speaking of help tickets, open a ticket here if you have a tech request. As more and more DGHI folks began working remotely over the last week, TTS team members started working with remote tools and providing support. So, they’re on it!

Alternately, try to find the answer to your questions first via Duke’s Office of Information Technology web page. After clicking the link, you’ll see a “What can we help you with?” box and you can plunk in your term, such as “VPN”, or terms related to your question, and helpful links pop up.

If there is a physical hardware problem that requires on-the-premises style support, they will arrange an appointment and/or set up a location to meet and check out the device in person (as long as neither party has symptoms of illness). The technology team is not providing home support and there is no plan for home visits in the future.

Safely connecting to Duke

Get comfortable with the Duke VPN Client and Multi-factor Authentication. The VPN is a “virtual private network” that lets you create a secure connection from your computer to Duke over a public network when you’re working remotely. The VPN software comes pre-installed on your computer and you use your NetID credentials to log in.

Need to print? Connect your home printer on your laptop or loaner laptop. Call on TTS using the help ticket request page if you require assistance.

Virtual teaching

For faculty making plans to teach remotely, go to Duke’s "Keep Teaching" page. You’ll find instructions on how to get started launching a Zoom meeting with a large group as well as small discussion break-out rooms, recording lectures and hosting live class sessions. You can use Zoom to meet via video (or if you’re having a bad hair day or still in your sweatpants, you can unclick the image and just use audio). If your kids are kvetching over the last cookie or a video game in the next room, you can also mute yourself during meetings. And generally, it’s also a good idea to mute yourself if you’re not the presenter or speaking so the whole group doesn’t hear your dishwasher humming in the background. Zoom also allows for screen sharing with colleagues across the campus or around the world. For Zoom meetings with more than 300 participants, please contact the Service Desk.

Also on Duke’s “Keep Teaching” page, faculty will find tools to help give tests and quizzes online, information about Voice Thread and other tools for audio-narrated interaction, student peer review options, tools for those who need to share code assignments, plus faculty and students can learn how to create online presentations.

For individuals who work in labs: there is a tool called LabXChange for beaming students into labs and sharing videos of lab demonstrations.

Your phone/chat options

If you want your office phone to “follow you home,” you’ll find voicemail instructions here. To receive your voicemail on your email, visit Duke’s VoiceMail Options page. For instant messaging (IM or chat), presence (the ability to see if someone is available), video calls, voice messaging, desktop sharing and conferencing capabilities, this Jabber FAQ will help you get connected.

Reach out if you need anything

We hope this is useful information and addresses some of your concerns as you move your work and classes online. As the situation changes, more information will be made available.

TTS wants to assure everyone that there will be no disruption in support due to the coronavirus situation. And again, if you have any questions or concerns moving forward, please reach out to Alonzo Felder or one of his colleagues in the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences Office of Technology Services.

Staying in touch with your team

One final note: Faculty, staff, and student groups and teams may already have apps they like to stay in touch remotely, but if you need more ideas, the following are among Duke social media teams' favorite tools for meetings, idea sharing and spontaneous chats: FacetimeWhatsAppSkypeFacebook Messenger, and Slack.

Visit us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram and share your favorite tips and tools for staying connected and we may share them on our DGHI social media channels and add them to our list here.