New and Updated Technology Resources and Services to Support FIT 2020 Restart
The Division of Information Technology maintained a full summer schedule of upgrades to infrastructure and academic software and hardware critical to teaching, including the full rollout of Adobe 2020.
New or modified IT services include full support for three remote collaboration tools (Collaborate Ultra [via SUNY], Meet, and Webex), a more robust VPN solution for employee remote access to business applications, a new need-based remote loaner program, a new online service for reviews of student 2D/3D print files, and remote management of classroom and lab computing equipment via a new FIT Remote Labs platform.
Services reopened with on-campus staff include academic computing support for open studios and labs, a unified TechHelp support desk that includes Tier 1 and Tier 2 support for graduate classrooms, audio/visual support and equipment, and desktop equipment services. Print FX/FabLab service desks for 2D/3D printing will also reopen to support on-campus students. (See details below.)
Accessing Specialized Campus Computers Using FIT Remote Labs
Students and faculty will be able to access select classrooms and specialty labs from a browser on their home or remote computers using FIT Remote Labs, powered by Leostream. Not all courses offered in the fall require this remote access to campus computing; many programs like Adobe Creative Cloud and Microsoft Office 365 are available without FIT Remote Labs access. Faculty members who teach courses in FIT Remote Labs classrooms will notify their students if they elect to use it to access campus software.
What is FIT Remote Labs?
It is a new service launching in the fall to allow faculty and students remote access to critical educational software only available in FIT’s classrooms and labs. FIT Remote Labs is powered by Leostream, and coupled with Duo for phone authentication, is an easy-to-use and fully secure method to access educational software that would otherwise be “trapped” on campus.
Whether you have a PC, Mac, or Chromebook at home, FIT Remote Labs allows a fast connection to your “trapped software.” All you will need is a reliable Internet connection, a web browser (like Chrome, Edge, Firefox, or Safari), and a secured login. Once connected to your assigned classroom or specialty lab, you are virtually sitting at that computer, in that now “virtual” classroom, on campus.
What rooms and computers will be made available via FIT Remote Labs?
IT has worked closely with Academic Affairs and the Registrar’s office to designate FIT Remote Labs classrooms. The new service is designed for the classrooms and specialty labs with critical educational software, many of them specialized and industrial in nature, that are not licensed for or easy-to-install on remote faculty and student computers.
Additional plans are being made for access to common labs. These will probably be available remotely as well. But we are concerned about students who may forget to log out of the common lab computers, and are looking at methods to contact them or log them out directly without loss of work. Further guidelines will be provided for common lab use if it is made available.
Who will have access to FIT Remote Labs?
Specific classrooms and specialty labs will be designated as FIT Remote Lab classrooms. Any course section assigned to one of these rooms has the ability to use FIT Remote Labs to create a virtual classroom.
What will I need to use FIT Remote Labs?
You will need a PC, Mac, or Chromebook running one of the major browsers (Chrome, Edge, Firefox, or Safari). You also will need a reliable Internet connection. The standard residential connection you have at home should be fine in most cases. Finally you will need your cell phone to confirm your identity via Duo (as a user of FIT Remote Labs you will be given a Duo account to allow for phone code verification whenever you login to FIT Remote Labs).
How will I log in to FIT Remote Labs?
You will go to the soon-to-be published URL and sign in with your FIT ID (without the @fitnyc.edu at the end) and FIT password.
FIT Remote Labs will work with an authenticating software called Duo. The first time you access FIT Remote Labs you will have to provide your cell phone number. After this initial login/setup, every time you login to FIT Remote Labs you will be sent a code to your cell phone which you will use to verify your identity. This is a security authentication to keep our network and computing equipment cybersafe.
Once logged in, you will see the list of computers for which you are authorized. You will see one computer listed for each of your registered classes that have been scheduled into a designated FIT Remote Labs room.
When can I use FIT Remote Labs?
FIT Remote Labs is tied to the fall course schedule and to the assignment of course sections into designated FIT Remote Labs rooms. Every faculty member and their students who are scheduled into a FITLabs room and are accessing “trapped software” are expected to login to that room at the established day and time of their class.
It is critical that you only connect to FIT Remote Labs classrooms and specialty labs during your scheduled class time. If you connect to a computer in an FIT Remote Labs designated room at any other time, it is likely that you could prevent another student from attending a class (exactly as if you sat at a desk in a class you weren’t enrolled in).
So please, be considerate and avoid creating disruptions to other classes.
Will FIT Remote Labs interfere with Blackboard/Collaborate Ultra, Google, Webex, or
other collaboration tools?
No, it will not. In fact, FIT Remote Labs and collaborative online meetings complement each other.
To simulate a real-time face-to-face classroom experience, we recommend that faculty and students attend virtual remote classes by using two browser windows -- in one you access your “trapped software” with FIT Remote Labs, and in the other you open a collaborative meeting and can speak, listen, discuss, share screens, troubleshoot issues, look at data results, and the like.
Through this dual approach you can simultaneously interact as a unified class in your local browser window while using your FIT Remote Labs browser window to access software on campus.
Will rooms designated for FIT Remote Labs be available for open lab use, either in
person on-campus or remotely
FIT Remote Labs rooms will be locked permanently throughout the term and no on-campus access will be permitted. Unexpected physical use of these rooms could disrupt a virtual remote class that is in session.
We are still determining whether or not we will allow remote access to these rooms when a virtual remote class is NOT in session. The likelihood is NO because there is an important drawback -- namely, the strong possibility that a student could lose their work if a new virtual class is starting up. In person, the open lab user would see students coming into class, and would have time to save their work and depart the room. But in virtual space this would not happen.
Consequently, at this time, open lab use of these classrooms and specialty labs via FIT Remote Labs will not be available. It is more likely that we will set up the common labs which have the majority of software from all programs.
Do I need FIT Remote Labs for Adobe Creative Cloud or Microsoft Office 365?
Not all courses offered in the fall will require remote access to campus computing. Because not all software for instruction is “trapped” on campus.
The two best examples are Adobe Creative Cloud or Microsoft Office 365. For Adobe Creative Cloud, we have a license for all students who are enrolled in programs that require access (click for Adobe info). For MS Office 365, we have a full site license (click for Microsoft info). With each of these licenses, faculty and students may download the programs directly to their home or remote computer.
Additionally, there are multiple cases where faculty are already using fully cloud-based software which can also be accessed directly by the faculty member and their students via a browser on their home or remote computers.
Each faculty member will decide the best classroom experience and learning outcome for their students and will decide if FIT Remote Lab access is needed.
Is there information about FIT Remote Labs inside Blackboard?
Yes. Within Blackboard there will be an FIT Remote Labs link on the left side navigation menu under Resources for Students, FIT Resources. Clicking through will take you to all needed documentation, FAQs and training materials for FIT Remote Labs.
How do I get help if I’m having a problem using FIT Remote Labs?
Information Technology’s TechHelp will have multiple channels for FIT Remote Labs support.
As we approach the Fall Semester, please watch for further information via email notices and online postings from various divisions. Pertinent communications will be coming from the Office of the President, Community and External Relations, Academic Affairs, the Registrar, the Online Learning Office, and Information Technology.
Access to Adobe Creative Cloud 2020 and Microsoft Office 365
Two key software suites, Adobe Creative Cloud and Microsoft Office 365, are available without FIT Remote Labs. For Adobe Creative Cloud, FIT has a license for all students who are enrolled in programs that require access. For Microsoft Office 365, FIT has a full site license for all students, faculty, and staff. With each of these licenses, faculty and students may download the programs directly to their home or remote computer.
Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, Google Meet, and Cisco Webex
These tools help provide a successful remote experience where you can listen or present, share screens to demonstrate or review, watch data update in real time, and have effective discussions or Q&A sessions. Blackboard Collaborate Ultra is a tool within our learning management system, Blackboard. Google Meet and Cisco Webex meeting options are both fully integrated directly into Google Calendar within your FIT account.
Support for Faculty Demonstration Videos for Studio Classes
For faculty teaching studio classes who need to record demonstrations for remote instruction, IT provides tripod kits that assist in creating videos that are steady and with good quality audio. Each kit has a tripod, a phone clip (to secure a smartphone to the tripod), a snake extension clip (to allow a flexible closeup to a machine or fabric, for example) and a Bluetooth wireless audio headset (to ensure quality sound). Training workshops and materials are forthcoming. Note: These kits are in limited supply and are being prioritized for faculty who teach hands-on studio classes this fall. School deans are coordinating with these faculty members directly and will provide IT with approved and prioritized lists for distribution of kits.
Reserving Lab and Studio Space on Campus with FIT Book It
Students from approved majors can use FIT Book It, the college's new reservation service, to check availability and book spaces that are managed to assure health and safety. Access to most studios and labs are currently scheduled Monday to Friday, 8 am to midnight, and Saturday and Sunday, 8 am to 8 pm. More details and instructions on FIT Book It are available here.
TechHelp for Campus or Remote Support
TechHelp is the FIT community's first source for IT support whether studying or working remotely or using equipment on campus. Submit a ticket at TechHelp.fitnyc.edu, and an IT team member will address the problem as quickly as possible. Students and employees can also email [email protected] or call (212) 217-HELP. Fall hours will be 8 am to 10 pm, Monday through Friday, with additional weekend hours available during the start of the semester in order to best support remote study and work.
Other Core IT Services
Training for faculty and staff will be available throughout the fall term. For the latest training offerings, visit it.fitnyc.edu/employee-training.
Core IT services that has reopened on campus include academic computing services for open studios and labs, a TechHelp desk that includes support for graduate school classrooms and staff offices, audio/visual support and equipment for faculty who are on campus, and desktop equipment services for faculty and staff.
For the fall semester, the Gladys Marcus Library continues to provide online research and instruction support for our faculty, staff, and students. Librarians can be also added to virtual Blackboard shells to participate in discussions or work with faculty to build course-related resources. Faculty may also request a live or self-paced library instructional session for students or a research guide for their class. Visit the library website for a full list of services and current hours, or drop into library virtual office hours to chat with a librarian (Monday–Thursday, 1–2 pm).
Specialty On-Campus Printing Services
PrintFX and FabLab, which provide 2D and 3D printing services, is closed to all in-person visitors for the fall 2020 semester. Curbside pickup of 2D and 3D prints and fabrications is available to support students who visit campus.
PrintFX and FabLab continues to provide an online digital service desk that was launched in the spring to answer questions related to creating and printing/fabricating 2D or 3D work, including assistance with correct file types for 3D printers, DPI for Illustrator files, and formatting for laser cutting. All services are provided via email support, live on-demand video chat support, and virtual appointment-based consultations and workshops.