IT Services

Student Remote Support

Classes at the University of Pennsylvania will be taught remotely for the duration of the spring semester due to concerns around COVID-19. Weitzman IT Services has prepped a guide to help all students with accessing and using virtual instruction. 

Please use our Remote-ify guide to check you are prepared to work from home and that you are able to access key University and Design services.

Where to Get Support

Attending Class Remotely Using Virtual Meetings

Penn Canvas - available to all UPenn users

PennCanvas is where online learning at Penn happens. It’s a place for your instructors to post readings, host class discussions, collect assignments, manage grades, and extend learning beyond the physical classroom. Read more here

BlueJeans - available to all UPenn users (with a PennKey)

  • BlueJeans is the most conveniently and easily accessible video conferencing service available. Unlike the other services, you will not need to schedule the use of Blue Jeans with the IT staff, or gain access to a shared account. BlueJeans is also going to have the most reliable connection of these services, since it runs over Internet2, a fast and secure network built exclusively for higher education institutions. BlueJeans can be used for one-on-one chats, screen sharing, file sharing, and large group meetings.

Zoom - free account must be used, set up your account here

  • Zoom is a video conferencing platform that allows users to perform synchronous (real-time) functions including host online meetings, participate in group messaging, and share video and audio content. The software is cloud-based and works on desktop, laptop and mobile operating systems including Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Blackberry, and Linux. Read more hereNOTE: Zoom is not a supported Weitzman Design product. Support is best effort only.

Best Practices for Remote Learning

  • When you enter your class, please mute your microphone and webcam. This will prevent confusion with the lecturer, and will also reduce bandwidth usage on the call for larger classrooms (20 or more students).
    • NOTE: Forcing all participants to mute their microphone or webcam not only helps avoid confusion during a remote call or class, it helps drastically reduce internet bandwidth usage. This makes it easier for users with slower or spottier connections to keep up.
  • All comments and questions should be posted in the Chat window.
  • Make sure you are connected to a reliable WiFi network or local network via ethernet.
  • Make sure you are in a quiet area. Most headsets or built in microphones are not good at isolating your voice, and will likely pick up lots of background noise or voices.

Internet Speed Testing

Having reliable internet is critical in our increasingly digital age. While wireless internet speeds have improved dramatically, the surefire way to secure top speeds and avoid spotty connections is to go with a direct, ethernet or LAN connection to your home network. Once connected, here are some ways to test the speed of your internet connection:

NOTE: To ensure you're getting a good connection to your professor remotely, you'll want internet speeds of at least 100-200 MB/s for download and 5-20 MB/s for upload. Most internet providers or local WiFi networks hit these speeds, however if not operating from a private network, you will always be at the whim of local network traffic. This is also the case with greater network traffic or outages (think a portion of a town or city all using internet during peak times, etc).

BlueJeans Testing

  • Make sure video icon is unmuted.
  • Go to bluejeans.com/111
  • Talk and Jean the Parrot will repeat what you said, in Jean's parrot voice, to confirm your mic and speakers are meeting-ready.

Communication Software

  • Email - PennO365 is the University’s cloud-based email and calendaring service. Weitzman IT Services highly recommends using the Outlook client to access your Penn email for Windows, Mac OS, and your mobile devices. Read more on access and features integrated into PennO365 here.
  • Microsoft Teams - Microsoft Teams offers many impressive and valuable video conferencing features. Up to 250 users can host 1080p, which includes the ability to share screens and record calls. Users can also meet or collaborate on-the-go using Microsoft Teams apps for smartphones and tablets. Read more here.

Productivity Software

  • Office 365 - PennO365 will allow you to use Microsoft’s productivity suite online or install applications on your local computer. Skype for Business and Teams have built in audio/video conferencing components including screen sharing. Teams is particularly powerful as a collaboration tool. Read more here.
  • Adobe Creative Cloud - Available to ALL Undergrad and Grad Students until May 31, 2020. Read more here.
  • ArcGIS Available for current students to install and use on personal Windows Device. Request license info at ithelp@design.upenn.edu
  • Autodesk Autodesk Educational offers free licensing to students. Download software here: https://www.autodesk.com/education/free-software/featured 
  • Rhino - Students can get a FULL 90 day trial via its official site (https://www.rhino3d.com/download) or purchase a stand alone (https://www.rhino3d.com/sales/north-america/United_States) 
  • Miro - Miro is a digital “whiteboard”, essentially a blank canvas for sketching ideas and for collaboration. It also has a number of templates for various charts, maps, and other visuals. They have a webapp as well as desktop and mobile apps for use. Read more here.

More software available to students can be found here.

File Shares

  • Penn+Box is a cloud-based collaboration service for securely managing and sharing files and folders.
  • Microsoft OneDrive is a cloud-based collaboration service for securely managing and sharing files and folders.

VPN Tools

The University and the Weitzman School offer two VPN options for accessing both University and Weitzman School resources when working remotely. Read more about getting access to and setting up both VPN clients here.

  • University of Pennsylvania VPN (NEW service!). Read more here.
  • Weitzman School of Design VPN (FortiClient)

Other Tools

  • Secure Share is a web-based application for secure file exchange available to Penn faculty, staff, and students.
  • Symantec is the University's supported antivirus product for Windows and Mac OS operating systems. The software is licensed through Penn and is available free of charge to all members of the Penn community. Read more on getting Symantec downloaded and installed here.

Copyright Info

  • Students: To facilitate access for all class members, these sessions, including your participation, are being recorded and the recordings will be made available to the class, for the duration of the semester. These recordings are made available solely for your personal, educational use and may not be shared, copied or redistributed without the permission of Penn and the instructor. Note also that you are NOT allowed to record class sessions yourselves. 
  • Faculty: Students are reminded that recordings you have made may not be shared, copied or redistributed without the permission of Penn and the instructor. Additionally, students are reminded that they may not make their own recording of class sessions. Be aware, though, that unauthorized sharing of electronic communication can never be completely prevented.