IT Support For Remote Work & Instruction


Welcome to the IT support page for PSU students, faculty, and staff who are working or learning remotely.  This page is full of resources, including IT tools and instructional information on how to use those tools. As always, reach out to us at geeks@pittstate.edu if we can help in any way!

Resources


  • GUS Portal Is Where You Need To Start
  • Office 365 Is Your Friend
  • Access FREE Adobe Creative Cloud Through May 31st
  • Learn How to Access PSU Owned Software Remotely Through GUSWare (aka Software2)
  • GUSNet Parking Lot Hot Spot Map
  • Managing your University Desk Phone Remotely
  • Use a Google Voice Phone Number To Keep Your Personal Number Private

GUS Portal is PSU's go-to spot to access the most commonly used IT systems at the University.  All links on GUS Portal do not require VPN (virtual private network access).

NOTE: As always, if you are accessing ANY PSU data you should be on a private network or use VPN if you are on a public network (like found in a coffee shop, hotel, etc)

Be sure to take advantage of University training sessions through both Information Technology Services (ITS) and the Center for Teaching Learning and Technology (CTLT). In addition to face-to-face training sessions, there is an abundance of online resources for Canvas and tools integrated within Canvas including Zoom, Turnitin, Respondus, and Vidgrid.

 

Office 365 will make your remote working/learning experience much simpler.  It is an amazing suite of all of the most popular Office products in one spot.  In addition, everything is online, sharable, and the suite allows for collaboration! Here is what you get, along with some top-notch training resources on how to use some of these products:

  • Word: word processing
  • Excel: spreadsheets
  • Powerpoint: slide shows
  • OneDrive: 1 TB of cloud storage
  • Skype: video conferencing, instant messaging
  • Outlook (employees only): email
  • Teams: collaborative space where you can use all of the above with a team of your choice
  • Much more!

Office 365 can also be accessed in the GUS Portal.  If you choose, as a PSU student, faculty, or staff member, you can download the Microsoft Office Suite to up to 5 personal machines and 5 personal phones, and 5 personal tablets.   Check out PSU's Office 365 informational website for even more details!

Due to the COVID 19 Pandemic, Adobe is now offering FREE Adobe Creative Cloud Access for Students, Faculty, and Staff through May 31, 2020.  Thanks, Adobe!

 

PSU has university-owned software available for students and faculty to access through the GUSWare website.  In addition, you can find a link to GUSWare on the GUS Portal

Be sure to check out the directions on how to use GUSWare for the first time! 

Please note that not all university-owned software is available through this source.  The availability depends on licensing rules per the software company.  However, software packages are regularly added to the site.  If you would like to see a university-owned software added to this site please send us a message at geeks@pittstate.edu and we'll contact the university department that owns the software to see if licensing allows for the addition. 

We understand that some of you live in locations where strong wifi is difficult to come by.  PSU has positioned some wifi access points near easy parking spots around campus.  Check out the GUSNet Parking Lot Hot Spot map!

 

Faculty and Staff office/desk phone instructions can be found at our Telephone Service page.  Learn how to check your voicemail messages while off of campus, how to create messages for both internal and external callers, and more! 

Did you know that you can get a Google Voice number to use when returning or making calls on your personal phone for work?  This allows you to keep your personal number private while working remotely.

Best Practices


  • Your Best Bet Is To Prepare In Advance
  • Preparing Your Home Environment for Remote Working and Learning
  • Staying Cyber Safe While Working and Learning Remotely Through VPN and Best Practices
  • How To Deal With A Sluggish Home Network and Cloud Services
  • Creating A Hot Spot With Your Mobile Phone
  • The Secret to Changing Your Password While Off Campus
  • How To Zoom In and Out To Relieve the Stress Of Screen Time On Your Eyes
  • Keeping Up With Cloud Services That Are Changing On The Fly
  • Before you begin working or learning remotely, take the time to make sure you have what you need in place and understand the tools that you will be using.
  • If you are not backing up your files to OneDrive, it is extremely wise to do that before you begin working or learning remotely.  All of your files located in one location is dangerous.  A backup is wise and backing up to the cloud is the safest and most secure place at this time to locate a second set of your files.
  • Test your internet connection from home in advance to see if you have the needed bandwidth.  Link to PSU IT resources to see if you can access these resources without any issues.  If you experience slow or spotty service, please see the last FAQ below for guidance on how to best remedy the issues that you are facing on your home network.
  • If possible, change your password BEFORE you leave campus to work or learn remotely:

    How do I change my password?

    • Log in to GUS Classic
      • Computer Accounts and Passwords (left side menu)
      • PSU Unified Password
      • Password Change
    Password Recovery Options
    Having password recovery options, will allow you to self-serve changing your password if it expires or if you forget it.
    • Log in to GUS Classic
      • Computer Accounts and Passwords (left side menu)
      • PSU Unified Password
      • Password Recovery Option

Decide what tool you will use to collaborate as a dept/committee/etc:

  • PSU has licensed everyone for Microsoft Teams and Skype.  Teams is recommended as Microsoft has announced that they will, at some point, retire Skype.
  • PSU has Zoom licensing available for all faculty.
  • Whatever tool that you choose, be sure to download the client or full app to your computer/mobile device for a more seamless experience.

Consider whether or not you will need an extra monitor, a webcam, speakers, etc at home and all of the cabling required to make it properly connect to your machine.

Section off a quiet, comfortable work-space in your home to work effectively and efficiently.

Test your home internet connection to be sure that it will support the resources that you must use in your position.

Have contact phone numbers for colleagues easily accessible or use the University Directory to contact colleagues.

Consider changing your PSU office phone greeting and steering callers to email or MS Teams/Skype to reach you. 

Use the dial-in capabilities of our phone system to get voicemails from your desk phone while on or off of campus.

Check out this article from NPR with some great tips regarding remote work.

  • Working and learning remotely means that you need to be extra vigilant with data and stay cyber safe.  Ensure that you are on a private network when accessing PSU data. Examples of open networks are typically found in coffee shops, hotels, conference centers, etc.  If your home network is not password protected it would be considered an open network as well.   
  • If you are not on a private network be sure to access PSUs VPN services (once you access the VPN website, scroll to the bottom of this page to access the needed application).
  • VPN will be required to access the following resources remotely: Cascade, Secure Shell (aka the IBM System), Dept Printers, P Drive, Remote Desktops.
  • If you plan to use VPN to remote into your PSU owned computer, that computer must be on and not asleep in order for you to access it remotely from home. 
  • Employees are discouraged from using their personal devices while working on PSU systems and with sensitive university data.  ITS staff cannot support personal devices to the same level that they can support PSU owned devices given ownership, configurations, warranties, etc.
  • Employees are discouraged from printing PSU documentation with personally identifiable information at home.
  • More info on VPN: VPN is the acronym for Virtual Private Network.  PSU has VPN services available for both your computers and mobile devices. VPN or Virtual Private Network is designed to provide secure/encrypted access to computing resources on the PSU network.  It allows, among other things, a method to connect to PSU computing resources (e.g., Cascade, Secure Shell - aka the IBM System, Dept. Printers, etc) as if the user were locally connected to the PSU network.  This allows greater functionality and security than other remote access techniques.
  • As always, when working and learning remotely, remember to be aware of cyber threats.  Always take the more restrictive stance:
    • “Block” is safer than “Allow”
    • “Cancel” is safer than “OK”
    • “Don’t Run” is safer than “Run”
    • “No” is usually a safer answer than “Yes”
    • “Install” and “Download” are both potentially unsafe.

If you are experiencing sluggish home network connectivity or slow cloud services while working or learning remotely you can help to improve performance by:

  • Not streaming video and moving to chat or voice only during Zoom/Skype/Teams calls
  • Limit the number of browser tabs that you have open
  • Limit the number of applications that you have open
  • Limit online activity by others in the home such as streaming video/online gaming/etc.

 

In a pinch for wifi?  Check out this great tutorial from PC Magazine on how to turn your mobile phone into a wifi hot spot!

"If you're stuck in a situation where you need a Wi-Fi connection, but can't get it anywhere else, chances are your smartphone can give you the boost you need. By setting up a Wi-Fi hotspot, you can turn your phone into a source for the internet that laptops, tablets, and other phones can use."

NOTE: Before you use your mobile phone as a hot spot be sure to contact your carrier to see if any additional fees will be incurred.

 

If you need to change your password while not on campus, no problem.

  • If you change your password using your work computer while off campus, your computer login will not get synced to the new password.  Once you connect your computer to the PSU domain (network) your computer password will sync and you can use your new password.
  • If you change your password from any other computer while off campus, your passwords will sync and you will be able to use your new password immediately.

How do I change my password?

  • Log in to GUS Classic
  • Computer Accounts and Passwords (left side menu)
  • PSU Unified Password
  • Password Change
Password Recovery Options
Having password recovery options, will allow you to self-serve changing your password if it expires or if you forget it.
  • Log in to GUS Classic
  • Computer Accounts and Passwords (left side menu)
  • PSU Unified Password
  • Password Recovery Option

Give your eyes a rest:

Staring at a computer screen for long periods of time can cause strain on your eyes, fatigue, dry eyes, and more.  WEBmd tells us to use the 20x20x20 rule: Look away from the screen every 20 minutes or so and look at something around 20 feet away for about 20 seconds. Blink often to keep your eyes moist. If they feel dry, try some eye drops. 

Trouble seeing small fonts, etc. on your screen?

Check out this tip that allows you to zoom in and out on your computer:
  • On Win OS Machines hold down these 2 keys to zoom in: Control +
  • On Win OS Machines hold down these 2 keys to zoom out: Control -
  • On Mac OS Machines hold down these 3 keys to zoom in: Control Command +
  • On Mac OS Machines hold down these 3 keys to zoom out: Control Command -

Cloud services are changing things on the fly...and it's going to be OK.

Right now cloud services like Microsoft Office 365, Zoom, Canvas and more are struggling to keep up with the demand that they are facing with more people than ever working and learning from home.  To accommodate this demand they are regularly updating their services and increasing their capacity.  During this time, expect changes on a regular basis.  Menus are moving, buttons are missing, and response times are sporadic.  It's going to be ok.
What can you do to help things go a little smoother when using these services?
  • Take a deep breath.
  • Be a problem solver...click menus to see if there is new information that may help you.
  • Use Google to find some answers.
  • Be agile...changes today may equal changes tomorrow or the next day.

FAQ's


  • Who do I contact for IT support?
  • Does PSU have the network and system bandwidth to support remote workers and learners?
  • Do PSU’s cloud providers have the capacity to handle remote workers and learners?
  • What steps should I take if I notice slow or spotty internet service while working or learning from home?

We are here for you.  If you are working remotely and need IT assistance, don't hesitate to reach out to the ITS Help Desk (aka The Gorilla Geeks):

FALL and SPRING SEMESTER Hours:
  • Monday through Thursday 7:45 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
  • Friday 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Live Chat Hours Week of Mar. 23rd - 27th:
  • Monday through Thursday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m
  • No Sunday Chat Hours on Mar. 22nd (Due to Spring Break)
Live Chat Hours Week of Mar. 29th - Apr. 3rd:
  • Monday through Thursday 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
  • Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Sunday 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Live Chat Hours April 5th - Close of Spring Semester:
  • Monday through Thursday 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
  • Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Sunday 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

SUMMER SEMESTER Hours (Including Live Chat):

  • Monday through Thursday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Friday 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (noon)
Yes. 
  • Less network bandwidth will be used on campus (and through the University’s Internet provider, KanREN) when campus has fewer people on site.  However, you may experience slower internet speeds at your home than you do on campus.  You will need to work with your provider to resolve internet speed issues.  More tips on this in a following FAQ.
  • All on-premise servers will service the same number of clients whether they are working on campus or remotely.
As of now, all major cloud providers used by PSU have confirmed that they not only have the capacity for increased loads as remote working and learning increases but that they have continuity of operation plans in place to retain support for such operations in an emergency.
  • If someone on your network is streaming video, ask them to stop and see if service improves.
  • If you have several browser tabs open, close all unnecessary tabs.
  • Run a speed test on your internet connection to see if your provider is supplying the bandwidth that you are paying for. You may need to move to a new plan to support the needed remote work and learning that you will be doing.
  • Be sure that the machine that you are using has the specifications (memory, graphics card, hard drive space, etc) to operate the services that you need to work and learn remotely.