In the event that routine work or academic functions are disrupted due to prolonged campus or building closures, you may find it necessary to work or teach a class from off campus. We provide a variety of services to connect you with colleagues and students remotely so that work and learning can continue uninterrupted. Students should visit our learning remotely page for more information.
In preparation, you should make sure you have tested your access to the following equipment at home:
- Laptop or desktop computer.
- Microphone – this may be built into your laptop or computer, or you may use an external device such as a USB microphone or headset. If you’re looking to purchase a microphone, Zoom has the following recommendations.
- Webcam – a camera may already be built into your laptop, but you can also use an external USB camera for video conferencing. If you’re looking to purchase a camera, Zoom has the following recommendations.
- Internet – either commercially provided (e.g., Comcast, Fios), or configure your phone to be a wireless hotspot. Many providers are relaxing their policies and offering lower cost options to help people stay connected. If you are having trouble with your home connection, please see our troubleshooting tips.
Be prepared! It’s best to know these options will work for you before you actually need them. Test access to your equipment and resources at home before the need arises and contact us if you have any questions or issues. We have a number of remote readiness consultation sessions scheduled where you can bring in your laptop and get your questions answered on how to work from home.
If you do not have equipment at home that meets these standards, please consult with your supervisor.
Meet & Chat Online
Microsoft Teams combines modern online meeting technology with persistent chat (similar to Slack), file storage, and collaboration. The full functionality of teams is available to faculty and staff, but anyone you invite can join a Teams meeting. To get started you can log in to Microsoft Teams from your web browser or download the Teams app from Microsoft.
Access Your BU Phone/Voicemail
Even when you are away from the office, there are several options for accessing your calls and voicemail.
You can have your voicemails delivered by email. Once configured, you will receive an email with an attached sound file whenever someone leaves a voicemail on your line. You will still be able to check and manage voicemails by calling 3-9999 on campus or 617-353-9999 when off campus.
The Single Number Reach feature will ring both your desk phone and another number simultaneously, allowing you to receive your calls both on and off campus. Alternatively, you can choose to simply forward all your calls to another number and not have it ring your office phone.
Duo Two Factor Authentication
You are encouraged to set up Duo Two Factor Authentication on more than one phone in case you don’t have your mobile phone with you or are not at your office phone. You can use the Manage Devices feature to add, remove, or change the devices that Duo can use to verify who you are.
When you are logging in, you can choose which line Duo will send the authentication request to (via smart phone app, SMS text message, or phone call depending on what you chose).
Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Due to current capacity limitations, please only connect to the VPN when using a service that requires VPN and be sure to disconnect from the VPN when you are no longer using that service.
Please note that most BU and cloud resources, such as Blackboard, BUworks, Office 365, and BU Google Mail don’t require the use of VPN.
Services that do require the use of VPN include: General Purpose network drive (GPNAS), Shared Computing clusters (SCC) logins to scc4.bu.edu, and to connect remotely to an on campus computer using RDP for Windows or ARD/VNC for Apple.
BU’s Virtual Private Network (VPN) creates a “tunnel” between your computer and the campus network that identifies you as a member of the Boston University community when you are not connected directly to the campus network, allowing you access to restricted networked resources. Most BU and cloud resources don’t require connecting to the VPN. If you need to access resources that require connecting to VPN, please see our instructions for installing the VPN on your computer.
Store Files in the Cloud
When you save your files in one of our cloud file storage options, you can always access the latest version of your files no matter where you’re located as long as you’re connected to the internet.
Research Computing Support
Make sure that you can connect to the Shared Computing Cluster (SCC) from your laptop or home computer. Additional SCC documentation is available on TechWeb. As always, Research Computing Services staff continue to be available to assist researchers both through email and in Zoom/Teams appointments which can be scheduled by sending us an email.
Provide Your Course Resources Online
If your course doesn’t already have a site on Blackboard, the first step is to request a course site and set it up. We have a number of quick start guides for instructors on how to use many of the features in Blackboard. If you need assistance with Blackboard or other educational technologies, please email email@example.com.
Post key class materials
- Add content such as your class notes, readings, and presentations.
Communicate with your class through Blackboard
- Announcements are an ideal way to post time-sensitive information critical to course success. Add announcements for due dates for assignments and projects, changes to your syllabus, corrections/clarifications of materials, and exam schedules.
- Course messages are private and secure text-based communication that occurs within your course among course members. Although similar to email, you must be logged in to a course to read and send course messages. Message activity remains inside the system, and you don’t have to worry about email addresses that may be incorrect or outdated.
- Online discussions allow students to take time to ponder before they post ideas. You can observe as students demonstrate their grasp of the material and correct misconceptions. You can extend your office hours and reach students more often during the week so that learning is continuous.
- The email tool allows you to send email to other people in your course without launching a separate email program, such as Outlook or Gmail. You can send email to individual users or to groups of users.
Assess your students
- Assessment and Remote Teaching: Options and Opportunities by the Center for Teaching & Learning helps faculty think through the various options available.
- Assignments allow you to create and edit assignments as well as grade assignments submitted by students.
- Tests and surveys functionality allows you to measure student knowledge, gauge progress, and gather information from students. See our information on how to deploy a test in Blackboard.
- Turnitin Feedback Studio is a web application for the grading process that streamlines the grading process, making commenting more specific. Student work can also be compared against a database of websites and previous paper submissions from within the course and other courses, as well as other schools and universities.
Record a Lecture
If you already use Echo360 in your class, Echo360 Universal Capture enables instructors to record audio, computer screens, and webcam video. These asynchronous recordings can be edited and saved on computers or shared on Blackboard for students. Please see our capture guide for information on how to install Echo360. If you would like to see if your classroom is currently setup for Echo360, you can find your classroom to see what technology is in the space.
Hold a Synchronous Class Online
Zoom Meetings provides a robust platform for online collaboration and meetings, pairing full video and audio conferencing capabilities with content sharing and cloud recording. There are features in Zoom that allow you to replicate the classroom experience including screen sharing, whiteboards, breakout rooms, and sharing videos with sound. Log in to Zoom Meetings to automatically create your account. Students, faculty, and staff automatically receive fully licensed accounts. Once logged in, download the Zoom Client for Meetings from the Zoom Download Center on your home computer to access the full benefits of Zoom. For a quick and persistent way for someone to meet with you, locate your Personal Meeting ID to share with others. We recommend taking a few extra steps to help secure your Zoom meetings to ensure that only people you invite attend. If you have an accommodation request, please work with Disability Support & Access.