Davidson faculty and staff who work from home or other remote locations can access almost all of the systems and technology resources available on campus, using the tools T&I provides to continue communications and maintain productivity when working remotely. This article provides guidance and best practices for working remotely.
Things to note:
- Even if you do not routinely work remotely, during an emergency or campus closure, you may need to be ready to do so on short notice. Therefore, it’s helpful to prepare ahead of any urgent situation.
- Some technology may need to be set up from campus before they can be used remotely. Please read through this guide to prepare any tools you require in advance.
- While it is possible to use a personally-owned computer for some Davidson tasks, if you work with financial information, student records or other confidential information, you are urged to only use your Davidson College workstation when working remotely. You can find additional information about managing confidential data here.
Are you a faculty member who needs to teach a class remotely due to illness or a campus or regional emergency? Additional resources for remote faculty instruction can be found here.
Your Internet Connection
Whether you’re at home, a coffee shop, an airport, or an international location, the quality of your internet connection makes the biggest difference in how well you can work remotely.
At home, weak wi-fi signal or a poor broadband internet provider -- meaning less than 15 Mb/s download speeds, 5 Mb/s upload speed, or high latency -- can impact your ability to work remotely. We recommend you test your internet service using the free speedtest.net website or iOS/Android app to make sure you are ready to work. This provides an end-to-end test of all the factors affecting your device’s connection: your internet provider, your home network setup, and the device you’re on.
When you run Speedtest, there is an option to choose a server to test against -- we recommend picking UNC-Chapel Hill’s or Duke’s, both of which approximate a connection to Davidson. For best results, you’ll want:
- 15 megabit per second (Mb/s) or better download speed
- 5 megabit per second (Mb/s) or better upload speed
- A ‘ping time’ of less than 75 milliseconds
If your performance is worse than this, try plugging into your internet access point or router with a wired (Ethernet) connection and test again. Or, read more T&I tips for improving your home internet service or wi-fi network.
Working from a coffee shop or other public place? A cellular hotspot can provide the best mix of quality and security. (Be careful of unknown ‘free’ public wi-fi networks, and consider using VPN in “Tunnel” mode to protect your security and privacy on wi-fi.) You may not need a dedicated hotspot; many cell plans allow your phone to be used as a hotspot.
Accessing Applications Remotely (Including VPN)
Once you have a good internet connection, you’re ready to connect to campus services. For most Davidson IT services -- including Office 365 email, Dropbox, Google Drive/Docs, Moodle, Banner Self-Service and many more -- you can log in directly from the internet.
A few services currently require the use of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) client. Think of VPN as a way of securely joining your computer to the Davidson network, and sending some or all of your internet traffic through Davidson. Services that currently require VPN for security reasons include:
- Banner (Administrative Forms)
- Blackbaud CRM
- Cisco Jabber (phone)
- Data.davidson.edu (reporting)
- PawPrint and other printers
- Remote login to staff desktops or some departmental servers
When you connect to VPN, you’ll have a choice of which Group you want to use: Regular, or Tunnel.
- Regular mode will send Davidson-specific traffic (Banner, OnBase, Blackbaud, etc.) through the VPN, but all other traffic will go to the internet directly.
- This usually speeds up your overall internet experience and reduces problems with audio and video.
- However, some applications do not work properly in Regular mode.
- Tunnel mode sends all your internet traffic for that device through Davidson’s systems.
- This may resolve problems with some applications, but it will decrease performance and you may have trouble with realtime audio/video applications.
- Tunnel is the best option for improving your security and privacy on public wi-fi networks.
VPN is a popular and widespread technology, and particularly useful when you travel; however, note that its use may be prohibited by law in some countries, including China, Russia, and Turkey, among others.
When you connect to Davidson’s VPN, you’ll note that your connection is limited to 10 hours, after which you must log in again, for security purposes.
Because VPN provides full access to the Davidson network, please disconnect and lock your system when you are away from your computer.
Additional instructions can be found in our knowledge base (search keyword: VPN).
Phone and Voicemail
While a laptop can come home with you, your desk phone can’t. But, there are some ways to stay in touch with your campus phone service when working remotely.
- You can use the Cisco Jabber application to make and receive phone calls using your campus (704-894-xxxx) telephone number, from your computer, smartphone or tablet. Note that you do need to be connected to VPN to access Jabber. Use these instructions to install Cisco Jabber.
- Alternatively, you can use Jabber to forward calls from your campus phone to an alternative number, like a mobile phone or landline. Or, you can enable call forwarding from your desk phone before leaving the office.
Don’t have the Jabber client? You’ll still receive voicemail messages as an email attachment, so you’ll always know if someone has left you a message. If you’re on the road and need to let callers know you’re not in, use the Jabber application to access your voicemail, or use your mobile phone or a landline to set an extended absence greeting.
- Call your campus phone number. When your voicemail message picks up, press *
- When prompted for your mailbox, enter the last four digits of your phone number, followed by #
- Enter your voicemail PIN. If you have forgotten your PIN, contact T&I and we’ll help you reset it.
- Follow the prompts to set an extended absence greeting, starting with Settings -- option 4 from the main menu
Zoom and Other Communication Tools
Zoom is Davidson’s recommended applications for collaborative communication -- web/video conferencing, conference calls, and more. With Zoom, you can have a one-on-one conversation or a team meeting; share or mark-up a screen or document; and collaborate easily no matter where you are. Learn more in this Zoom FAQ.
All Davidson students, faculty and staff can hold unlimited-length, one-on-one Zoom meetings with other College employees. If you need to host a meeting with more than one other person, your meeting length is limited to 40 minutes, unless you request a Zoom Pro license. Contact T&I to request one.
Zoom meeting audio can come through your computer, or through a mobile or landline phone. Computer audio is usually preferred because it can be higher quality, and carries no cost to the College to use. Telephone/dial-in access carries a nominal cost to Davidson; if you need to use this, please note that “call me back” dialing is significantly more expensive than dialing into a Zoom meeting. Learn how to get the best audio out of a meeting here.