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Teams: Useful links

Tuesday, August 4th, 2020

Due to the current situation many staff members have to switch to online platforms and there is a greater need for online meetings using Microsoft Teams. Below are a few convenient links with guides on how to use it.

Office 365 Training Center

Microsoft Teams help center

Planner Self-help guide

OneDrive help center

OneNote help center


Meetings in Teams

Schedule a meeting in Teams

Join a Teams Meeting (video)

Manage Meetings (Video)

Start an instant meeting in Teams

Share content in a meeting in Teams

Create instant meetings with Meet Now (video)

Record a meeting in Teams

Hardware support during lockdown

Wednesday, June 24th, 2020

Even though Information Technology has been fully operational during lock down, there are some functions we haven’t been able to perform. Since Level 3 some of these functions, such as repairs and receiving deliveries are possible again.  However, this does not mean that our offices are open every day and we can receive visitors.

Stellenbosch campus:

  • Currently no deliveries are made to clients by IT.
  • Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays:   Suppliers deliver equipment to our offices.
  • Tuesdays and Thursdays:  Staff may pick up their orders at our offices. 
    IMPORTANT:  If you have placed an order and it has been delivered, you will receive an automatic message from our system when the order has been processed, however this does not mean you should come to the offices and pick up your equipment. We will send you an email with a specific date to pick up your order.  (Example of email) 
  • Device repairs:  If you have equipment which needs to be attended to, log a request as usual and a technician will contact you where after you will receive an email with a date and instructions on when to bring the equipment to our offices and again when to pick it up.

Tygerberg campus:

  • Wednesdays:  Deliveries from Stellenbosch campus to Tygerberg
  • Pickup of new orders:  You will be contacted by a technician with a specific time for collection. 
  • Device repairs:  The same as Stellenbosch campus

For any enquiries, please log a request on the ICT Partner Portal. Please remember to provide a cell phone number where we can contact you.

Zoom not recommended for meetings

Friday, May 8th, 2020

Over the past few weeks we’ve had to find new ways of connecting with people. Zoom has become the popular choice for anything from online exercise classes to quizzes. While it is perfectly fine for personal use, we do not recommend Zoom for your official meetings with colleagues or students. Although it’s simple to set up and free, there are multiple security risks.

Why take the risk if Microsoft Teams can do the same safely?

To help you make an informed decision we prepared a comparison table of Adobe Connect, Teams and Zoom. The comparison table shows the strengths and weaknesses of each product and the areas marked in red are serious weaknesses. Do not use a product if any area is marked red. 

SUNStream is based on Adobe Connect and runs on a server on campus which is fully integrated with SUNLearn. It will be zero-rated to allow students to access the system without data costs. This is the preferred streaming platform for lecture use and is particularly suited for larger classed as it uses a very structured approach. Adobe Connect is also fully integrated with SUNLearn.  

Teams has become the University standard for meetings and is also suitable for classes of up to 250 participants. Teams is not just a streaming service; it is an excellent collaboration platform. Teams has also been integrated into SUNLearn, allowing lecturers to use class groups within Teams. Unfortunately it will not be zero-rated soon, since it is running on the Microsoft commercial cloud. 

*  NB. If you record your meetings in teams, keep in mind that the recording will be available to everyone who attended the meeting – even if just for a short while as a guest. Don’t use your current meeting to continue a different meeting, for example with a smaller group. If you do this everyone who attended the initial meeting will be able to listen to your recording.  Rather create a separate one. More on privacy and security in Microsoft Teams.

Zoom has become very popular largely due to its ease of use – but therein lies the risk: security and ease of use are on the opposites of the scale. Zoom places the burden on the users to protect themselves. Two South African ministers have found themselves in trouble when using Zoom, the latest being reported 6 May 2020 in a so-called “Zoombombing” incident. (also see below what “Zoombombing” is) The University regards Zoom as a risk, and will not support its use.  

Also read security expert, Basie von Solms’, article on protecting your video calls on LitNet (unfortunately only available in Afrikaans) and Computerworld’s article on the do’s and don’ts of video conferencing security.

 

ZoombombingZoom-bombing or Zoom raiding[1] is the unwanted intrusion into a video conference call by an individual, causing disruption. The term became popularized in 2020, after the COVID-19 pandemic forced many people to stay at home and videoconferencing was used on a large scale by businesses, schools, and social groups. The term is associated with and derived from the name of the Zoom videoconferencing software program but it has also been used to refer to the phenomenon on other video conferencing platforms.[2][3][4]

SOURCE: Wikipedia

 

ICT ready to enable business continuity

Thursday, March 26th, 2020

During the last two weeks the IT environment at SU pulled out all stops to prepare a virtual study and work environment.

Since the announcement of lock-down regulations by the President on 23d March, the possible work scenarios are now much more limited. The restriction of movement and staying at home, will effectively terminate 99% of all traditional work or study activities on campus, and will now be done online, from home.

This scenario has specific implications for all IT services and applications. Our goal is to enable all ICT-based services and applications to staff and students working from home, with the same richness and quality that existed before.

The preparation covered multiple domains, some of which we can control, and others where we depend on collaboration of service providers and national negotiations in this regard. The preparation of all computing facilities on campus for remote access will be finalised over this coming weekend, after the scheduled maintenance work is completed.

The ICT serviced desk (ICT Partner Portal) is currently inundated by support requests like access to applications and platforms. The support agents and system engineers are doing their utmost to serve everybody as soon as possible, and we appreciate the patience of our users.

I’m confident that SU will overcome the short-term challenges, and that the ICT ecosystem will enable business continuity off-campus. We’re almost there!

Attie Juyn (Senior Director: ICT)

Effective virtual collaboration sessions​

Wednesday, March 25th, 2020

When establishing the expectations for remote working, ensure all team leaders and practitioners understand how to communicate and collaborate effectively when working remotely

Principles

  • Be on time, finish on time
  • Ensure that all voices are heard
  • Align on purpose, have a clear agenda
  • Exaggerate your voice, pronunciation and pitch to come better across

Framework​​

  • Include dial-in details on all meeting invites Including relevant MS teams, Skype or Zoom details on all invites is a small act that goes a long way, ensuring virtual workers are always included.
  • Give everyone an equal opportunity to share their voice Meeting leaders should use purposeful breaks so that everyone has an opportunity to contribute. If you’re a participant, use the raise hand feature if you can’t find a break in the conversation. Make use of the chat function to pose questions and add comments without disrupting the current flow of conversation.
  • Turn on your camera Turn on your video wherever possible and be camera ready. This helps all participants get the most out of virtual meetings. 
  • Take your call somewhere quiet Find a quiet space to participate. Open plan environments are saturated with background noise—make sure you use a professional headset.
  • Be on the call 2-3 minutes prior, or 5 if you are hosting Join virtual calls 2-3 mins early to ensure an on time start. If you are the host aim for 10 minutes prior to ensure everything is working correctly. 
  • Time your meetings and keep them short Not all meetings need to be 45 –60 minutes long. Aim for short concise meetings that run efficiently—stick to an agreed agenda. 
  • Use digital collaboration tools If one or more members in the meeting are attending virtually, consider using digital collaboration tools such as an in-built whiteboard.
  • Include meeting agendas/provide everything needed In the event that screen sharing does not work ensure others have copies of the file prior to the call (at the very least the facilitator). Upload any presentations beforehand to avoid technical obstacles.
  • Use the mute button Use the mute button to prevent transmitting background noise when you’re not speaking.
 

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