March 25, 2020
Texas Tech University Community,
Best Practices for Secure Online Meetings and Courses
When meeting online, be sure to practice safe computing, and avoid unwanted guests (Zoombombing). General tips for hosting secure online meetings:
- Do not publicly post meeting links to social media, unless you intend to invite all those that can read your social media feed;
- Use unique meeting identifiers so that your meeting is only available to those with that code;
- Utilize a waiting room to manage participants joining prior to the host or rejoining after leaving the meeting;
- Limit who can join meetings as a presenter; enable only specific individuals to help co-host the meeting;
- Disable file sharing, if possible;
- Mute participants who do not need to speak.
We have compiled technical instructions for securing the following supported platforms, Zoom, Skype for Business and Teams at https://askit.ttu.edu/onlinemeetings. For instructional assistance, eLearning and Academic Partnerships has created a resource for faculty; the resource includes guidance from the Teaching, Learning, and Technology Center - https://www.depts.ttu.edu/elearning/blackboard/collaborate/index.php.
Home Bandwidth Considerations
Internet Service Provider (ISP) options normally provide adequate Internet bandwidth to meet your daily needs, with most plans starting around 1-3 Mbps capacity. While such capacity is likely sufficient for one user, concurrent users may require a higher household bandwidth. In addition to bandwidth, other factors also contribute to slower response times, such as hardware capability (CPU, RAM, storage access times, etc.) or service type (email, Skype, Blackboard, document sharing, video streaming, etc.). With increased Internet usage in your household, your current Internet packages—bandwidth and data limits—may not be sufficient. Check with your provider to see if your plan works for your current needs.
In general, most TTU resources, such as email, Blackboard, Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom, do not need a large amount of bandwidth. To help gauge the bandwidth requirements for these services, we provide more detailed information at https://askit.ttu.edu/bandwidth.
Tips to reduce your household bandwidth consumption:
- Avoid streaming entertainment (movies, music, news, etc.) during work and school activities;
- Download large files outside of typical work hours;
- As possible, use audio for online activities that do not require video. Note that most online meeting tools will automatically prioritize audio over video, if sufficient bandwidth is unavailable.
Online, Cloud Services and Internet Connectivity
With the increasing number of local, national, and international households moving to remote work and instruction, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and cloud-based services will have large increases in usage. These providers have adjusted to increase their capacities, but demand may exceed available resources periodically.
The TTU IT Division has proactively collaborated with our vendor partners, such as Microsoft, Blackboard, Adobe, as well as our Internet providers, to increase bandwidth and capacity as much as possible. During this international, unprecedented situation, we ask for your patience and understanding as IT services may have slower response times. TTU IT staff are monitoring our systems and services, working diligently with vendors to address issues as quickly as possible.
Personal Behavior and Working Habits
While it may be convenient to walk into the next room for classes or work, learning, teaching, and working from home takes adjustment to be productive and successful. eLearning & Academic Partnerships offers a helpful video with great strategies for effective participation in online courses, and the same themes apply for working at home:
- Treat your online course and work as if it were face-to-face;
- Utilize a schedule;
- Create a dedicated physical learning/working space;
- Create a dedicated virtual learning/working space;
- Just as you would in a traditional learning, teaching, and working environment, focus your attention and communicate effectively.
Scheduled Technology Maintenance
While TTU works to minimize the amount of service downtime, some technical maintenance is still required to sustain our robust information technology and resources. When systems and services are unavailable (planned or unplanned), TTU IT posts notifications to TechAnnounce, as well as appropriate mailing lists. However, you can also access a list of known TTU and vendor partner system maintenance and outages at www.askit.ttu.edu with your eRaider username and password.
To report any TTU system outages or to obtain additional information please contact IT Help Central at (806) 742-4357 (HELP) or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your partnership during this challenging international health situation.