University Tools for Remote Work, Teaching & Learning

**UPDATED 3-27-2020**

As routine academic functions and business operations have been impacted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this resource guide serves to inform members of the UMS Community on services and options to complete work from off-campus.  Recent additions are denoted with **NEW**

**NEW** or **Updated** Resources



Verify Equipment/Internet Access

To take advantage of the resources listed below, it is important that you prepare beforehand to ensure you will be able to access these services remotely.  This preparation entails confirming access to the equipment listed below and verifying compatibility with the tools and services described in this guide.

    • Laptop/Desktop Computer.  An available laptop or desktop computer

    • Internet.  Home internet access from a commercial provider (e.g. Spectrum, Consolidated (DSL) or RedZone Wireless, etc.)  or mobile hotspot access through your wireless provider/carrier (e.g. Verizon, US Cellular, etc.).
      • Several U.S. cellular carriers have pledged to provide customers with unlimited data and free mobile hotspot service as part of the ‘Keep Americans Connected’ pledge for the next 60 days. You may read more about the announcements from AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile.

      • **NEW** An updated map of ‘Study-From-Car’ sites where WiFi guest access is available for outside of buildings is now available.  For each site, please check the website information provided for availability and connection information.
        Map of ME Internet Sites
      • Spectrum WiFi Hotspot Finder
        • Charter/Spectrum has announced they will make all of its WiFi hotspots available for FREE public use through May 12 as part of their commitment to the ‘Keep Americans Connected to the Internet’ challenge.  Learn more about their Covid-19 response.

      • Comcast WiFi Hotspot Finder
        • Comcast is providing Xfinity WiFi hotspot access for FREE through May 12 as part of their commitment to the ‘Keep Americans Connected to the Internet’ challenge. Learn more about their Covid-10 response.

      • Free Public WiFi is also available from a number of national chains, including:
        • Starbucks
        • McDonalds
        • Panera Bread
        • Dunkin Donuts
        • NOTE: Please use caution when utilizing public WiFi to access the internet.  Be sure to only use sites that begin with “https://” when entering confidential information, such as username/password

    • Webcam.  If you wish to be seen during web-based meetings, a webcam will be required.  Most modern laptops will have an integrated webcam that may be used to capture video during synchronous web-based meetings.  For computers without an integrated webcam, inexpensive USB webcams are available from a number of resellers, including Amazon. USB Webcams are typically equipped with a microphone.


    • Microphone.  Most modern laptops will have an integrated microphone that may be used to capture your voice during synchronous web-based meetings.  For computers without an integrated microphone or external Webcam, inexpensive USB microphones are available from a number of resellers, including Amazon.


    • Mobile Devices. Most modern smartphones and tablets contain cameras and microphones capable of participating in online courses, meetings, and classwork. Many of the recommended tools have apps available, including:

For questions or support while testing the equipment listed above, please contact the IT Help Desk

For UMS employees, if you do not have access to equipment meeting the standards listed above at home, please consult with your supervisor.

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Tools to Support Remote Teaching

Support Options

For technical support or assistance with the tools listed below, please contact the IT Help Desk.

For guidance on using the Blackboard LMS or other educational tools to support remote instruction listed below, please contact the support team affiliated with your campus linked below.

      • UMA
      • UMF
      • UMFK
      • USM

Posting Course Resources Online

Blackboard serves as the official Learning Management System (LMS) for the University of Maine System.  All UMS courses available in the MaineStreet Student Information System have an associated course shell provisioned in the Blackboard LMS.  Student enrollments are pulled into Blackboard course shells from MaineStreet every 8 hours.

For information on using Blackboard, please see the following guides:

Additionally, students have access to the Blackboard Essentials for Students course within Blackboard itself.

Record a Lecture

Kaltura is a video content management system that allows for video and/or audio content to be recorded or uploaded and shared with a targeted audience, such as a class section.  Kaltura is currently integrated directly into the Blackboard LMS, providing streamlined access through assigned course shells for faculty and students. Alternatively, recorded content may be accessed directly through Video.maine.edu.

A resource guide for getting started with Kaltura video capture/recording is available through the US:IT support site

Conduct a Synchronous Video Class

Zoom is the official web-based conferencing tool available to the entire UMS community.  Zoom is a robust cloud-based platform that supports real-time meetings, class sessions and/or webinar broadcasts.  Zoom allows for full video and audio-conferencing along with content and screen sharing. Furthermore, Zoom allows for the recording of any meeting or class session to be shared with individuals unable to attend.  Zoom cloud recordings are also automatically stored in the Kaltura video content platform for easy sharing in Blackboard and at Video.maine.edu.

Features available in Zoom that may be used to replicate the classroom experience include: screen-sharing, whiteboards, chat, breakout rooms and telephone participation.  Standard meetings can host up to 300 participants, while webinars and “large meetings” can host up to 500 participants.

For information on accessing or managing your Zoom account, as well as UMS specific Zoom information, feature details and training please review the Zoom resource guide .

Other Resources

    • **NEW** Remote Computer Lab AccessRemote Lab Screenshot
      • The UMS RemoteLab system provides students and faculty with the ability to access academic software typically restricted to physical computer labs from home.  This service establishes a remote connection to a Windows PC workstation located in a physical computer lab on one of our campuses. This service supports remote connections from either a home Windows PC or Mac.  Software that is currently available through this service includes:
        • ArcGIS (All campuses)
        • Microsoft Office (All campuses)
        • EcoLab (UMM only)
        • MiniTab (UMM only)
        • SAS (USM only)
        • SigmaPlot (UMM only)
        • SPSS (UM and USM only)
      • For additional information on accessing or using the RemoteLab system, please review the UMS Remote Lab page (https://gojira.its.maine.edu/confluence/x/-Vi1BQ)

    • **NEW** Labster Virtual Laboratory Simulation CatalogVirtual Lab Simulation
      • UMS has secured an unlimited license for access to the extensive catalog of STEM-related virtual labs and simulations from Labster along with professional consultation services to assist faculty in utilizing these resources through December 2020.  These resources are available through the Blackboard LMS. If you are interested in taking advantage of this service, please contact your campus Instructional Design team.

    • **NEW** Adobe Creative CloudAdobe Creative Cloud logo
      • Adobe is making temporary at-home access to the Creative Cloud suite of software which includes Acrobat, Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere and others, available until May 31, 2020 for students and educators, at no cost.  The University of Maine System has registered with Adobe and is now able to offer these temporary licenses to all students and faculty.  To take advantage of this offer, please refer to the Adobe Creative Cloud Offer resource guide.NOTE: If you already have a Creative Cloud subscription, you do not need to do anything further as you will continue to access the software using the credentials you registered with Adobe.

    • **NEW** Respondus Online ProctoringLockdown Browser Icon
      • The University of Maine System has entered into agreement with Respondus to provide a suite of online proctoring tools for educators to use in their Blackboard courses through May 31, 2020.  The Respondus tools include:
        • Lockdown Browser – A custom web browser that locks down the testing environment within a learning management system to secure online exams in classrooms or proctored environments.
        • Monitor – Working in conjunction with Lockdown Browser, Monitor uses a student’s webcam and video analytics to provide a fully automated system to prevent cheating during non-proctored exams.
      • If you are interested in taking advantage of this service, please contact your campus Instructional Design team.

    • Open Source Virtual Lab/Simulation Resources  
      • The University of Boulder PhET project hosts a number of web-accessible STEM-related virtual labs and simulations in disciplines such as Physics, Chemistry, Earth Sciences and Biology.  These resources are free to use and licensed under Creative Commons.
      • The Carnegie Mellon University ChemCollective provides a collection of online virtual labs, simulations, activities and tutorial to explore concepts in the chemical sciences.  These resources are free to use and licensed under Creative Commons.

    • Google Suite – the IT Training Resources guide provides information on tools available through Google


    • Google Hangouts Meet – In response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Google is providing free access to some premium Google Hangouts Meet features. For those unfamiliar with it, Meet is Google’s web conferencing platform, similar to Zoom. As a GSuite for Education customer, this free access has been extended to the University of Maine System, and we are enabling these new options for all users, effective immediately. Please be aware that Google is providing these options at no cost for a limited time only. We will review the use of these features and reassess their support and availability by the end of Google’s stated timeline of June 30, 2020. It is important to note that Zoom remains the primary recommended tool for synchronous classes and online meetings. Thanks to its integration with key UMS services, including Kaltura and Blackboard, as well as its robust feature set, Zoom is our preferred web conferencing tool. However, Hangouts Meet does provide us a viable alternate solution and with this change offers up a number of useful premium features, including:

      • Online meetings of up to 250 participants
      • Recording of courses and meetings, with the recordings automatically being stored in Google Drive for later access and sharing
      • Livestreaming for up to 100,000 participants

    • Library eReserves (Contact your library for more information)

    • Check that your digital course materials are accessible to those with disabilities, by using the Document and Web Accessibility Checklist

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Tools to Support Remote Work

Communicate & Collaborate Electronically

UMS currently provides the Google Suite for Education for official communication and collaboration.  This suite of tools includes Gmail and GCalendar. Each student, faculty and staff member are assigned an official @maine.edu email address which facilitates access to email through any web browser or mobile device.

The Google Suite provides integration of email, calendar, document sharing and collaboration to facilitate remote engagement and teamwork.  Additional information and training materials on how to take full advantage of the tools available in the Google Suite area available on the IT Training Resources guide.

Office 365

The UMS agreement with Microsoft allows the MS Office package for Windows or Mac OS X to be downloaded and installed on up to five personally owned devices. You can also access Microsoft’s online, collaborative version of Office on any computer with an internet connection.

You can use your @maine.edu email address and password to start the installation process at Microsoft’s Office 365 portal.


Managing Phone Calls and Voicemail

Even while away from your desk, there are several options for accessing phone calls and voicemail.

Forwarding your Phone Extension from your desktop phone
Note: Forwarding to off campus numbers is restricted to the 207 area code.
      • For a Cisco Phone
        • Press the “Forward All” softkey.
        • Then enter the call forward target phone number exactly as you would dial it from your phone.
        • To verify that your calls are forwarded, look for the “Forward All” icon in the line label, and the forwarding information in the header.
        • To cancel: Press the “Forward Off” softkey
      • For a NorTel phone
        • Without lifting the handset press the Forward key (flashing indicator)
        • Then enter the call forward target phone number exactly as you would dial it from your phone.
        • Press Done or the Forward key again (steady indicator)
        • To cancel: Press the Forward key (indicator goes off)
      • For an Avaya phone
        • Pick up the handset.
        • Press *2 and enter the call forward target phone number exactly as you would dial it from your phone.
        • Return the handset to its cradle
        • To cancel: Pick up the handset, press #2, then return the handset to its cradle.
      • For an Analog phone
        • Pick up the handset.
        • Press *70 and enter the call forward target phone number exactly as you would dial it from your phone.
        • Return the handset to its cradle.
        • To cancel: Pick up the handset, press #70, then return the handset to its cradle.
Accessing Voice Mail

Users may access and retrieve voicemail from off-site using the phone numbers listed for your home campus below:

      • UMFK 207-834-7501
      • UMA 207-621-3457 or 207-621-3200
      • UM 207-581-3001
      • UMM 207-255-1446
      • UMF 207-778-7004
      • UMPI 207-768-9700
      • USM 207-780-4500 or 207-780-4700
**NEW** Masking Caller ID

Should you need to place a business call from home or personal cell phone and are concerned about exposing your phone number to the recipient, you may dial *67 prior to placing the call to mask caller ID.  For mobile phones (android, iOS), users may also activate this feature for all outgoing calls.


Conduct an Online Meeting

Zoom is the official web-based conferencing tool available to the entire UMS community.  Zoom is a robust cloud-based platform that supports real-time meetings, class sessions and/or webinar broadcasts.  Zoom meetings allow for full video and audio-conferencing along with content and screen sharing. Furthermore, Zoom allows for the recording of any meeting to be shared with individuals unable to attend.

Features available in Zoom that may be used to replicate an in-person meeting experience include: screen sharing, whiteboards and breakout rooms.  Zoom can be used from computers (PCs and Macs) and many mobile devices. Zoom also provides telephone dial-in numbers (non-toll-free) for voice-only connections.

For information on accessing or managing your Zoom account, as well as UMS specific Zoom information, feature details and training please review the Zoom available resource guide.


Electronic Chat with Colleagues

Google Hangouts Chat provides real-time chat-based communication between individuals, groups and/or teams.  Google Hangouts Chat also integrates with Google Suite to allow for sharing Google Docs and files stored in Google Drive.  **NEW** For additional information, please see the Using Google Hangouts Chat guide.


VPN Shield Logo**NEW** Remote Access VPN

A Remote Access virtual private network (VPN) is a tool for faculty, staff, and students of the University of Maine System to establish a secure connection to the University network from off-campus. The Remote Access VPN service is most useful when needing to access UMS information systems and/or services from off-site.Common examples of resources that require VPN access include:

      • Campus file servers
      • ImageNow
      • Remote Desktop

In addition, those with University managed laptops will be able to conduct more “on-campus” work from off-campus by utilizing the Remote Access VPN.

Please note: Most web-based UMS electronic resources such as Blackboard, MaineStreet, Gmail, Office365, Zoom, etc., are NOT restricted from off-site access and do not require a VPN. 

Instructions on how to set up the Remote Access VPN

For assistance in setting up or using Remote Access VPN, please contact the US:IT Help Desk.


**UPDATED** Remote Desktop Access (Windows)

In limited use scenarios, it may be required to access restricted UMS systems and/or services from off-site (e.g. network drives). Remote Desktop access provides faculty and staff of the University of Maine System a way to access their individual on-campus Windows Desktop PC from off-campus using Remote Access VPN.

US:IT has prepared computers with appropriate configurations to receive remote connection requests via Remote Desktop Access. This includes computers in the University Active Directory that did not already have Remote Desktop turned on.

In order to use your on-campus desktop through Remote Desktop Access you must leave it powered on at all times and you must have setup Remote Access VPN for your off-campus device.

Instructions on how to use Remote Desktop Access and VPN are available in the Technology Support KnowledgeBase.

For assistance in setting up or using Remote Desktop Access, please contact the US:IT Help Desk.

**NEW** The University does not authorize relocating non-mobile devices and equipment, including desktop computers, monitors and printers, for use at home without prior authorization.  Please note that desktop computers with a hard-wired connection to the University network require maintaining this connection for login authentication and device management, including ensuring the latest security patches have been applied.  Furthermore, maintaining a desktop computer connected to the campus network is a requirement to enable remote desktop access from home.

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