The latest news and updates from ICT in regards to working remotely during COVID-19.

News

New features to Microsoft Teams and changes to policy - 19 May 2020

New features in Teams

You will soon be able to see nine video streams at a time in a meeting. This will gradually roll out to everyone, so keep an eye out for the 3x3 video grid in your upcoming Teams meetings if you haven’t already got it. It will automatically scale between 1 and 9 video streams. 

The ‘raise a hand’ function is also rolling out in Teams. To use it, select the hand icon in your control bar while in a meeting. This will place a gold hand icon on your video feed to let the rest of the attendees know that you'd like to speak

You don’t need to do anything to activate these new features – they will roll out to you automatically.

You will also be able to add Imperial branded backgrounds to your Teams video calls. For more information, visit the Microsoft Teams web page for more information on this. 

Policies

The College's Office 365 group naming and expiry policy is also changing this week. 

Office 365 Groups Naming Policy – when you create an Office 365 Group (through Teams, Outlook, SharePoint, Power BI, or Planner) a short code indicating your department will be added to the group name.  

For example, you create a Team called “My 2021 Departmental Teaching Team”.  The actual team name enforced by the naming policy will appear as “My 2021 Departmental Teaching Team - XX” where XX represents the two-character departmental finance code.  In ICT this would be IT, and in HR would be HR, etc.

Office 365 Groups Expiry Policy – all groups will be set with an expiry date 12 months from initial creation. 

Owners of groups will be notified 30 days, 15 days and 1 day before expiry and on the date of expiry.  In the emails sent before expiry, there will be an option to renew the group and this will extend the life of the group by another 12 months.  IF nothing is done and the group is allowed to expire then on the date of expiry an email will be sent to all group owners and any group owner will be able to re-instate the group.  The expired group can be re-instated for up to 30 days after expiry.  If the group is NOT renewed in advance of expiry or reinstated within 30 days then all group messages and files will be deleted and will then be unrecoverable

For more information on the above policies, visit the Use Office 365 to collaborate web page. 

Guidance for those working from China - 29 April 2020

To support staff and students affected by COVID-19, we have created a web page for those working or studying remotely in mainland China while travel restrictions are in place

The page covers what can be accessed from China and VPN information. 

Find out more by visiting our Guidance for those working from China webpage.

New remote exams technical support service - 14 April 2020

From Monday 20 April 2020, ICT are launching a new service which will provide priority access and dedicated technical support for both staff and students when undertaking time-limited remote assessments. 

The service will be available Monday to Friday, 7.30am to 6pm (BST) and can help with the following:

  • Personal device support where issues are preventing students from submitting their exam scripts or being able to receive the examination question paper
  • Help in scanning their exam paper as part of the exam submission process
  • Critical platform issues with Blackboard or Turnitin that are affecting remote assessments
  • Support for departmental staff who are having IT issues that prevent them from managing the remote exam, e.g. Teams, shared mailboxes

This new service will ensure technical issues are resolved quickly, reassure staff and students undertaking remote exams and allow ICT to problem solve and prevent future technical issues. 

Read our Remote exams support web page for more information on this new service and how to get in touch.

Remote working recommendations - 8 April 2020

ICT has published an Excel file, accessible to everyone with an Imperial log-in, with recommendations of how to access all College ICT services when working remotely. 

View the Excel file in your browser. 

Online 1-to-1 technology training sessions for students - 7 April 2020

In light of the COVID-19 measures, online one-to-one technology training is now available to all students. The training will help you effectively utilise Inclusive Technology, improve your study efficiency and help you manage anxiety and stress at this time. Sessions are run by our partners at Diversity and Ability (D&A), an external organisation with extensive experience and knowledge supporting students through technology.

 Find out more by visiting our online training sessions for students web page in the Inclusive Technology section of the ICT website. 

New Service Desk hours - 6 April 2020

The ICT Service Desk will now be operating from 6:00 to 18:00 with out of hours support from 18:00 to 6:00 GMT. 

Before contacting the ICT Service Desk, please browse around the ICT website. If you cannot find the information you need, please contact the ICT Service Desk

Remote desktop access for students - UPDATED 3 April 2020

The College has opened up 2000 PCs (in spaces such as the library and computer labs) for remote access via the Remote Desktop Gateway for students.

This service is available to those who either:

  • Need access to software or resources only hosted by the College
  • Are using a personal PC that is not powerful enough to run the software
  • Use a Mac and need to use Windows software        

If you fit these criteria, visit the Remote desktop access for students web page. 

Please noteICT may change/adjust access as this service evolves which may mean this service is no longer available in your country. 

Free software for personal Macs whilst you work remotely - 2 April 2020

Are you a Mac user? Do you have a personal Mac at home? If so, students and staff can now enrol in Jamf Pro, which is used for managing Macs and doing so will give you access to a Self-Service portal from which you can download and install a wide variety of free software and settings such as Imperial’s VPN and ICIS access. With Jamf on your Mac, you will have a ‘one-stop shop’ for all your software needs.

Visit our Free software for personal Macs whilst you work remotely web page for instructions. 

Note: You must be running macOS 10.13 (High Sierra), macOS 10.14 (Mojave) or macOS 10.15 (Catalina) for best performance and eligibility  

With Jamf you will have access to the following software:

  • Anaconda – Free and open source of Python and R programming languages used for scientific computing
  • Atom – A text editor for coding projects
  • Audacity- Used to edit audio files so can be used for podcasting etc
  • Blender – Used for animated films, visual effects, art and 3D printed models
  • Chrome – Internet browser
  • EndNote – Reference software
  • Git – Used for tracking changes in source code during software development
  • Gimp – an alternative to Adobe Photoshop
  • Matlab – a computer programme language used for data and algorithms
  • Edge – Microsofts new chromium-based browser
  • Office 365 – Word, Excel, PowerPoint etc
  • OneDrive for Business – File sharing platform
  • Microsoft Teams – Platform to organise remote meetings, team chats and more
  • Visual Studio Code – Source code editor
  • VLC – media playing software

Buying equipment during the COVID19 crisis - 2 April 2020

Purchases made on the College’s ordering system, iProcurement, can now be delivered directly to UK home addresses. Our preferred suppliers should still be used, which are:

  • HP – for Windows-based desktops & laptops
  • Academia – for Apple desktops, laptops & iPads
  • BT Business Direct – for IT consumables such as keyboards, mice, cables, USB sticks etc.

If you have an urgent fulfillment for a standard HP laptop, desktop or monitor, then ICT can arrange for these to be delivered to a home address. Raise a ticket on ASK and ICT will be in contact to discuss stock availability and options.

In regard to setting up new ICT equipment, ICT asks that you start using your new devices as they come out of the box. 

For more information, visit the buy computers and devices web page and see the 'Buying and setting up equipment during the COVID19 crisis' item in the accordion. 

Microsoft Teams and ICT’s response to Zoom - 31 March 2020

Microsoft Teams is an easy, reliable, ICT approved, cloud platform for video and audio meetings, collaboration, chat and webinars/live events.

Microsoft Teams supports meetings of up to 250 people. For meetings of more than 250 people, ICT recommends that you hold a Teams Live Event. This is an extension of Teams and will allow you to broadcast video and meeting content to large online audiences. If you are looking to host a public-facing Teams Live Event then please contact the ICT Service Desk who can provide guidance.

Zoom is not supported by ICT at the College and has not undergone our data privacy impact assessment. Microsoft Teams provides equivalent functionality to Zoom, if not more and is supported by the College. Zoom or any other virtual meeting, collaboration or conferencing software should not normally be used to conduct College work, including teaching and research.

If you use Zoom, ICT cannot guarantee that data shared, and discussions held on this platform are secure and/or in compliance with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). For more information visit our Zoom Guidance web page.

Read our dedicated accessing It resources remotely web pages for additional guidance, training and latest news. You can also find lots of helpful information on our Microsoft Teams SharePoint.

Remote working for Linux - 31 March 2020

Linux users can use the Office 365 suite of applications from their browser and install Teams on their device. 

Linux machines can be remotely accessed using the SSH gateway. For instructions on this, visit the remotely access my College computer webpage. 

Remote working for Mac - 31 March 2020

If you are using a personal Mac to work, you can access your email and documents using the Office 365 suite of applications. Visit our Office 365 web pages for more information.  

Adobe Creative Cloud products can also be downloaded on to other machines. Simply log into your Adobe Create Cloud account to download.  

During the COVID-19 crisis, we are temporarily giving staff access to the College Mac self-service tool to install software you may need to work. More information on this to come. 

Should you need to remote into a College Mac, administrators can access their files by connecting to the College VPN and then using an SFTP client. For more information visit the Remotely access my College computer web page.