Distance Learning & Technology Support

Just because you’re learning remotely doesn’t mean you are alone. Academic continuity is our priority, and we have the support in place to help you continue to progress toward your academic goals.

Your instructors may use various methods to stay in touch and engage you in learning over the coming weeks. Here you’ll find information on the tools you are most likely to encounter, as well as other important information to ease your transition to distance learning.

Start strong

Here are 5 things you can do now to shift to alternative methods of instruction.

  1. Review your new syllabi. The syllabus that your instructor has loaded into myCourses (or sent to you via alternative method) will likely be different than the syllabus you received at the beginning of the semester. If you have any questions about new due dates or any assignments, contact your instructor. Include the name of your class in the subject line of your email.
  2. Reach out for help and support. Your instructor’s office hours may have changed. Make sure you know when they will be available to talk and answer questions and the best way to contact them (phone, email, Skype, etc.). 
  3. Check your university email. Do this every morning and throughout the day. You may want to set up an email filtering system so your most important emails are easy to spot. 
  4. Stay in Touch. Just because you are learning remotely does not mean you have to be alone. Use online tools such as Zoom, or other virtual meeting spaces to connect with one or more classmates at a time.
  5. Don’t forget to take time for yourself during the day and reach out for support from others. Staff from RIT Counseling and Psychological Services remain available to students in distress for short consultation sessions by phone/video relay. Call or email for an appointment (585-475-226; caps@rit.edu). More information can be found here: https://www.rit.edu/counseling/ RIT Case Management (casemanagement@rit.edu) can assist you in finding more consistent mental health support in your community. Guidance on managing mental health concerns and coping during COVID-19 can be accessed here.

Communication

Communication is even more important in distance learning than in traditional classroom formats. If you run into any difficulties with the course materials, course work, or any new tools that your instructor might be using, contact your instructor right away. They want to hear from you.

Look for your instructor's communication plan in their revised syllabus. What tools will they use to contact you? How often will they be in touch? How quickly will they respond to your questions? If you can't find their contact information or response time to questions in the syllabus, ask your instructor for that information.

Your academic advisor or NTID support coordinator is another resource for you, and will be happy to offer guidance and point you toward additional support.

Be sure to also respond to outreach from your instructors and advisor, whether they contact you through email, myCourses, Starfish, etc. You have an entire team of RIT people who are rooting for you, and supporting you. Now is the time to use them.

Internet Access

If you live in an area that is served by Spectrum, Spectrum broadband and wifi access is being made available to households with college students who do not already have a Spectrum broadband subscription. This includes waiving activation and service fees.

  • To set it up the individual should call 1-844-488-8395
  • The location must be a serviceable address. Spectrum will confirm this on the phone.
  • Spectrum ships the equipment needed via fedex to the household. This usually takes 2 days. Right now there are no issues with stock or shipment time of equipment.
  • If the household needs assistance with setup, or some households that have not previously used broadband, may require a technician to come to the home. Availability of technicians varies by area but averages 2-5 days. Technicians work on the weekends.
  • If an individual had a Spectrum account previously but it is not currently active, they can still qualify for this offer. If there was a back balance on the previous account, that will need to be paid before the new service can be set up.
  • No contract is signed as a part of this offer. If it is not cancelled by the end of the 60 day free service, the household will receive a bill for the next month of service.

If you do not live in a service area served by Spectrum, contact your local internet service provider to see if they are making similar offers. If they are not, try to identify friends, family members, and neighbors who might be willing to share internet resources for a period of time.  RIT is not able to provide internet services to students outside of the RIT campus.

Textbooks

For the remainder of the Spring semester, RIT students will have access to free eTextbooks (excluding courseware) from Barnes & Noble Education Inc., through its partnership with educational technology provider VitalSource Inc. Students can log onto VitalSource Bookshelf using their RIT email address to find and view course materials from participating publishers. Help accessing materials is available at VitalSource.

If you are conducting research, all library databases are accessible from anywhere with an Internet connection. If you need help doing research, the librarians are available virtually through chat. RIT Libraries provides additional library services and resources available online. Please visit this page for the latest updates. We will continue to update this webpage as they arise.

myCourses

Your instructor may use RIT’s online learning management system, myCourses, to create an online “classroom.” As a student in face-to-face classes, you may not have interacted much with myCourses.

Your first place for myCourses information is the myCourses Help and Resources wiki. If you need more help, it is available by email at tlsuppport@rit.edu and chat on the Classroom and Academic Technology Support page. Support is available Monday – Friday: 8:30am – 4:30pm Eastern time.

Here are three helpful tips for using myCourses as your online classroom. 

  • Check myCourses regularly. Try to log into myCourses and check all of your classes at least once a day. Check to see if there is new course material or if there is an upcoming due date. Your instructor might be using a new tool to provide content. If you have questions, contact your instructor.
  • Manage myCourses notifications. You can be notified by myCourses when new content is posted, when a grade is released, and so on. You can receive these notifications by text message or email. 
  • Be aware: RIT due date times are set for Eastern Time. myCourses due times for Quizzes and Assignment folders are displayed as Eastern Time by default. If you add due dates and times to your personal calendar, make note of time zone differences. If you would like myCourses to display the due dates and times in your local time zone, follow these steps: 
    • In myCourses, click on your name, then choose Account Settings. 
    • Scroll down to select your time zone. 
    • Once you select your time zone, the due date times displayed in myCourses for Quizzes, Assignments and other items will not match due date times in printed materials such as the syllabus or announcements the instructor might post. You’ll need to remember that you have selected your home time zone as the default.

Zoom Video Conferencing

For live (or synchronous) meetings, RIT is providing Zoom Video Conferencing as an option for students and faculty. This software allows for video meetings, and a variety of other interaction options during this transition from face-to-face learning to remote.

Your instructor may also use Zoom integration with myCourses. Zoom meetings scheduled through the myCourses integration will automatically be added to the Calendar tool of your course. You may also receive an email invitation to a Zoom meeting.

You will be asked to grant permission for Zoom to manage your myCourses Calendar the first time you access the Zoom integration on myCourses.

When the meeting is scheduled to begin, you may join, and will be prompted to download Zoom. Open the Zoom app, or start Zoom in your browser.  

Once the meeting has begun, your instructors will be able to broadcast their voice or image via their laptop’s internal microphone or camera. They will also have the ability to share their computer screens, which will allow for the presentation of documents, videos, and slide presentations. Zoom also provides functionality to encourage engagement such as polling and chat tools. 

Zoom will be a great way to be “together” during social distancing safety precautions. If using Zoom is new to you, here’s a helpful Getting Started page which will walk you through, step-by-step.

How to use Zoom securely

Due to privacy and other concerns including Zoombombing, which occurs when virtual meetings are disrupted by unwanted guests, Zoom has prioritized enhancing privacy and security controls. 

RIT’s Information Security Officer Aldwin Maloto says even though the university has seen very few Zoomboombing attempts, university leaders have provided security settings to help students, faculty, and staff use Zoom more securely. 

Please review the following Zoom best practices and use them when attending meetings. 

If you experience an issue with the virtual meeting platform, contact the ITS Service Desk.

Technical Assistance for Remote Access Software

RIT has established a remote access solution providing student access to certain software available in RIT computer labs for these colleges. Your instructor will let you know if this option is available to you.  Here are the technical support resources in each college who can help with remote access if you need assistance.

College
Email
Name
SCB
Saunders Technical Support
COS
Cheryl Lomedico
KGCOE
Cheryl Lomedico
CLA
Cheryl Lomedico
CAD
Bob Fleck
 
CAD Tech Helpdesk
Magic
Bob Fleck
CHST
ITS Helpdesk
SOIS
ITS Helpdesk
NTID
Michael Burns
GIS
Michael Good
GCCIS
Tom Cary
CET
Joel Yates
Mechanical Engineering Labs
Cheryl Lomedico
Industrial Systems Engineering Labs
Cheryl Lomedico
Modern Language Teaching & Learning
Vince Incardona
Electrical Engineering Labs
Jim Stefano
Computer Engineering Labs
Rick Tolleson

Offline and Online

As you complete your coursework, there may be times when you need to conserve available bandwidth, or other times when you don’t have reliable Internet access. Here are some tips for working offline, on mobile devices, and reducing bandwidth consumption. 

If you are working in myCourses, you may download all pages and files while connected to the Internet to review offline later. You may also work in myCourses on your mobile phone using the Brightspace Pulse mobile app. If you’re on a webpage but need to go offline, visit this page for instruction on how to convert a web page to a PDF. 

RIT also offers free software to enable productivity when you’re working offline. For Microsoft Office tools, Office 365 is free for RIT students. You must be connected to the Internet to install, but can work offline once installation is complete. RIT offers other software available for home use. 

When completing your assignment, you’ll want to try to keep file sizes small so they send and upload more quickly. mages (like .jpeg or .png) increase the size of your file. If images aren’t essential for your assignment, just use text. If images are a requirement, crop or resize them to a smaller size before inserting into your document. You may also compress images after inserting them to save space. Learn how to compress images in Microsoft Office programs here. It is also helpful to create a compressed (or zipped) folder of your files before uploading. 

If you have required group work or want to study with classmates, plan for asynchronous (not meeting virtually at the same time) options. Google apps such as Docs, Sheets, and Slides are great online collaboration tools because you are able to track contributions of others.You can also use these tools offline and on your mobile device. Microsoft Lens is also a useful mobile app for scanning.