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The latest addition to the Office 365 Suite of products here at the University of Reading.

 

What is Microsoft Bookings?

Microsoft Bookings is an online scheduling tool that is part of Office 365. Bookings allows employees to set up calendars and manage availability for themselves so that others can book appointments with them quickly and efficiently.  Academics can use Bookings to provide their availability for office hours and allow students to book appointments with them. Staff can use Bookings to provide their availability to both internal and external colleagues and allow them to schedule time slots for a meeting or event.

 

What is a good use case for Microsoft Bookings?

After a successful pilot we have seen a lot of good use cases of Microsoft Bookings and the feedback has been positive.  From this, we have been able to see what works best and what doesn’t.

A few case examples:

  • An academic looking to advertise some scheduled times that students could book to drop in and meet with them.
  • Employees looking to open up their calendar to internal or external colleagues to display their availability on a certain subject matter.

Remember it’s a “book-me” system rather than a “book-this object” system. The recommended use of this tool will be person based. There are other Apps and resources for booking other items .  E.G Rooms or Table Space or Loan equipment as examples….  (Either via CMIS or Exchange Rooms etc…)  Microsoft Bookings is NOT a replacement for booking meetings rooms!

 

Who has access to Bookings – How do I get access to it?

This service is available for University Employees to use.

If you are interested and have a valid use case you wish to implement via Microsoft Bookings, then please request access via this form. Once this is filled out we can assign the license to your personal user account on Office365.

As a member of staff, you can allow anyone to book via your Calendar.

 

Great – I have access to Bookings now. Any tips for use?

  • Keep the Display Name For your calendar to the point.  E.G “John Smith – Student Engagement Bookings”
  • As mentioned, keep this person based. Once your employment with the University finishes the license will be automatically revoked.
  • This is a hosted system surfaced through the Microsoft Office 365 Platform. DTS will not be able to provide much support on this as the administration is done through your own Office365 account.
  • If you are going to use a room on-premise to meet physically then ensure you book the room separately.
  • Booking Calendars are non-transferable and need to be kept related to you.  If you leave the University you cannot pass the Booking calendar on to your predecessor or colleague.
  • Think carefully about the naming of the Booking Calendar – Inappropriate naming or names that are too vague or breach common use will be removed. E.G Finance, HR etc

On Thursday 20 August, from 10.30-11.30, we’ll be holding a Microsoft Teams Live Event to tell you all about the functionality of Microsoft Teams Live Events.

Have you wondered if Live Events would suit your event or session? Are you not sure what the differences between Live Events and standard Teams Meeting functionality are?

We’ll have members of DTS and the wider University to share a little about how the system works, what sessions and events it suits best, how you can request to use it and answering any of your questions. Some of our colleagues will share their experiences of using the system for their events. Don’t miss it.

To join us for this session, please register here.

 

Our DTS and TEL colleagues have been working hard over the weekend to move Blackboard to a more reliable, cloud-based platform.

 

Blackboard and Turnitin were unavailable for the entire weekend, and we are considering the system to be “At Risk” on Monday 3rd July. 

  • from 20:00 BST on Friday 31 July
  • for the whole of Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 August
  • for most of Monday 3 August.

 

The new platform brings many advantages:

  • Regularly updated – quicker access to bug fixes and new features.
  • Future upgrades won’t require any downtime.
  • Greater system reliability.

 

Logging in to Blackboard

As part of the upgrade, there will be a change to how you log in to Blackboard. Your login will be exactly the same as signing in to other University systems, such as email and OneDrive. In fact, if you are already signed in to your University Microsoft account, you won’t need to sign in again to Blackboard.

You may find you are asked to sign in via Multi-Factor Authentication – a two-step security process to ensure your login details remain safe and secure. Further details of Multi-Factor Authentication can be found here.

For most students, when signing in, on the first screen you will need to enter username@student.reading.ac.uk – for example ab123456@student.reading.ac.uk. For our Henley Business School students, please find details here.

 

For further details, please see the following pages from our colleagues in the TEL team.

Further to feedback from our colleagues and recognising that there is limited functionality to allow us to communicate planned maintenance and outages, we have spent the last couple of months working hard to introduce a new DTS Status Page that provides a more reliable service and calendar/system views of uptime and availability.

 

From today, the new DTS Status Page can be found at http://itsstatus.reading.ac.uk/

 

One of the most exciting features of the new page is the ability to sign up for notification emails, either for the whole DTS service or for specific systems and services relevant to your role. There is a “Subscribe” option available from the top tab, from here you can enter your details and choose “all” or “selected” services.

 

If you have any questions about the Status page, please do contact the IT Service Desk via our IT Self Service Portal.

 

You may have been thinking that there hasn’t been much going on regarding our Teaching & Learning Facilities on campus during the lock-down. In fact there has been a great deal of work going into researching, identifying and providing facilities to help our academic staff deliver content for the autumn term, whether that is done remotely or in-person.

As part of this work you will have seen advertised this week the Assisted Recording Rooms in Palmer available until 11th September. These have been set-up as the result of an enormous amount of cross-team working within Digital Technology Services, and cross-functional working with other services including Campus Services and CQSD-TEL. In particular, we are very grateful for the efforts of building officers, cleaners and porters in helping us to ensure the rooms are clean and safe for you to use.

We have put in place a simple to use booking system – just complete the form – Assisted Recording Room Booking Form – and your request will be processed. When you arrive in Palmer you will be greeted at the Welcome Desk by our ARR Administrators who will take you through the Health & Safety procedures to ensure your well-being while using the facilities. You will have access to your own room with recording facilities and guides to show you how to use the available equipment. Some of you may not have used a Document Camera before – you may be surprised to see what can be achieved with this simple to use tool. Throughout your session our AV Support Technicians (pictured below) will be close by to assist with any problems you may have in using the equipment and recording your content. For more information on using the rooms see Assisted Recording Rooms.

When you have finished your session – and followed simple instructions for cleaning the equipment ready for the next customer – we would welcome your feedback on your experience and will ask you to complete a short form. In this way we can try to ensure that you have the facilities you need to prepare teaching content for the autumn term.

Whether you have already prepared your teaching content, or would just like to try out the rooms, we invite you to make a booking.

We hope you enjoy the experience.

Keep safe and well,

Helena Bampton
Head of Teaching & Learning Technology
Digital Technology Services

DTS, CQSD and Campus Services have worked hard over the previous months to provide twelve assisted recording rooms. These rooms will be available in the Palmer Building from 29 June to 11 September, 2020.

 

 

Our assisted recording rooms are available by advanced booking and will provide staff with the opportunity to record personal capture videos onsite, with the benefit of AV Support Technicians on hand to support them.

 

We look forward to welcoming our colleagues to Palmer ahead of the Autumn term, and would encourage staff to book early to ensure their preferred slots are available.  We would politely ask colleagues not to visit the Palmer Building without an advance booking, for health and safety reasons.

 

To make a booking, please visit our DTS assisted recording rooms page where you will find a link to the booking form and further useful information about this service.

Thousands of colleagues are now using Microsoft Teams to call each other and collaborate on work.

Digital Technology Services (DTS) have been assisting everyone with getting set up with using Teams and supporting people remotely while we all get used to new ways of working. Luckily this is the third migration DTS have handled when it comes to how staff communicate with each other.

For a long time, we all used traditional analogue telephones to call each other but as things progressed into the digital age it became impossible to maintain and support it as there just wasn’t anywhere to purchase replacements parts. Skype for Business was the standard tool at the time and so DTS began plans to move the University to digital phones using Skype.

Skype was fantastic for making calls but lacked the extra features that people demanded when using it for work. File sharing, calendar planning and shared workspaces were missing, plus all the latest digital phones were no longer compatible with Skype. Microsoft decided to discontinue Skype in favour of Teams, which has those essential features, so DTS set about planning this current migration.

Even our own IT Service Desk had to move quickly to the new Teams calling functionality. Due to the short notice of the move to remote working, the team had to work together with our own Cloud engineers to design and test a Teams-based solution for our traditional support line. This allowed us to get the Service Desk working from home by the time campus closed, and ready to support those moving to home working.

Head of Customer Experience & Service Delivery, Eleanor Draycott said of the quick pivot to an online telephone solution:

“When we realised that we would be quickly moving to working remotely, our biggest concern was about how to allow our Service Desk team to move from analogue telephones plugged into the University’s telephone network to a solution that they could use from home, in order to continue supporting our customers. Our Cloud Services team went above and beyond to help us build and test our new support line, and we were able to get everyone home safely. The Service Desk continue to provide support as if we were on campus, and we’re very proud of how quickly they’ve adapted to these changes.”

Moving to a new way of working can be hard at the best of times. DTS migrated everyone in a quick timeframe but people will still need support when using something new. Our lovely Service Desk team have performed brilliantly in adapting to a new way of providing support and getting University colleagues up and running with Teams.

Getting on Teams is easy- and DTS can help!

If you want help getting set up with Teams, don’t hesitate to contact the Service Desk who are always happy to help. Louis McClean, one of our Service Desk Analysts, is used to fielding all sorts of questions about Teams:

“Microsoft Teams has quickly become a reliable and flexible tool I use to communicate with people internally and externally. This has helped to create a more open and progressive way of working. Colleagues and I share ideas, troubleshoot issues and have better communication than ever before. We’ve taken a big leap from Skype for Business, which was very basic in comparison.”

Teams has also been extremely reliable while everyone is working remotely. One staff member said:

“I’ve been enormously impressed with how well all of our systems have held up under the strain of remote working and I’ve had no problems at all using Teams, the VPN, RISIS, Blackboard or any other system I’ve needed to use.  Many thanks for everything you and your team have been doing.”

Enabling learning with Teams

Service Desk members have also been helping Staff get the most out of Teams. DTS colleagues are always happy to help staff learn more about the software that is available and how it can benefit their work specifically. A colleague mentioned how Teams had helped make their teaching easier:

“I don’t know how to thank you. You must all be so busy, but you take time to help us get up and running off campus. Several quite anxious students want to talk online and I can use Teams for my teaching next term as well as important meetings.”

Get Teams or contact DTS

The Teams app can be downloaded onto PC/Mac or mobile devices. It can also be used in a browser, making it easy to use wherever you are.

To start using Teams or to ask for a Team of your own, visit the Teams webpage.

Joseph Bannon, one of our Service Desk team says of the move to Teams calling:

“It’s been really encouraging to see all of us at the University make a collective effort in coming to grips with new comms technology. Please do let us know if you have any questions, we’re always here to help.”

If you want to talk to us about Teams or get help please contact the Service Desk on dts@reading.ac.uk or reading.ac.uk/dts.

 

Lots of our community are using the University’s VPN to access the University network for work or research.

The VPN allows you, when working remotely, to access internal systems that require a connection to the University network.

 

Do you need to use the VPN?

On our useful Remote Working webpage, we have compiled a table of services and systems that you might need to use the VPN to use. These include:

  • Collaborative shares (T Drive)
  • Home drives
  • Business systems administration
  • Access to UoR Research Systems
  • Remote desktop access

Most of the tools you use day to day do not require the VPN, such as your Email and Calendar, OneDrive, Teams and Office 365 apps.

Whilst we’ve worked hard over the previous year to extend the capacity of our VPN to allow more people to use it, we have some hints and tips for you to get more from your connection.

 

Please Do:

  • Please remember to log off when you’ve finished using the VPN. You might not need to use it all the time, and we have plenty of capacity so you won’t have any issues reconnecting when you need it again
  • Use web based services if you are able to do so, these allow you to work at a greater speed
  • If you’re working remotely from a University of Reading device, we strongly recommend connecting to the VPN at least once a week to ensure important updates can be , and to prevent your device having issues when reconnecting on campus
  • If using the VPN to access your home drive, we recommend copying your files to your personal OneDrive instead. Instructions to do so can be found here. You will not need to use the VPN to access your OneDrive

 

Please Don’t:

  • When working on files from Collaborative drives, we would recommend saving these to a local drive, making any edits and then saving the new document back to the Collaborative drive, making sure to delete the local copy from your device. Editing documents from the N Drive or Collaborative drives directly can slow down the connection.
  • Please don’t use the VPN to stream videos or music, such as Stream, Netflix or Spotify
  • Please don’t use databases directly – the data is all streaming to your local machine
  • We would recommend avoiding using Microsoft Teams calling whilst connected to the VPN, this will improve the quality of your connection.

 

Important: you will need to authenticate your connection

When using your University account to login to the VPN you will need to verify yourself using Multi Factor Authentication, either via the Microsoft Authenticator app or a phone line. Full details and guides can be found on the Remote Services Access page.

 

Need help?

If you have questions or want help connecting to the VPN, please contact the IT Service Desk on dts@reading.ac.uk or using the IT Self Service Portal. If you find you do not have access to any applications that you previously used on our old VPN connection, please contact the IT Service Desk who will be able to raise an access request on your behalf.

 

Stream is a video streaming platform from Microsoft. It is available to all staff and students at the University through your Office365 account.

University of Reading staff members can use this to upload, store, play and share videos you have created (in the same way you can to YouTube). Students can use Stream to view any video content produced by members of staff at the University.

You can upload most video file formats, and videos can be shared with groups, channels, specific colleagues or the whole University.

 

Using Stream

There are 3 main methods of adding content to Stream:

  • You can upload video files directly to Stream from your device
  • As we continue to roll out the ability to record Teams Meetings, you can use this functionality to record your meetings and this will be automatically saved in Stream. The recording will also be sent to you as an attachment.
  • Whilst delivering a PowerPoint presentation, you can record a voiceover to the presentation and then export the presentation to Stream.

Our helpful colleagues in CQSD TEL have put together a webpage with a wealth of information about using Stream, how to check your settings, and share your content.

It is important to remember that any content uploaded to Stream can be shared with your colleagues, your channels or your groups, but also with the whole of the University of Reading. Please do make sure to check your “Settings Permissions” before uploading your content.

 

Need help?

Our friendly staff are always here to help if you need guidance with Microsoft Teams. Contact the IT Service Desk using the IT Self Service Portal or emailing dts@reading.ac.uk

 

Logging In

To access Office 365 and Me@Reading, our students studying with the Henley Business School will need to use the following information to log in:

If you are logging into your account for the first time, you will be required to set up an option to reset your password, to set up Multi-Factor Authentication and to select your Language and Time Zone. You will then be able to access your systems.

 

Multi-Factor Authentication

If you log on to the University network from your home or a location outside our campuses, you will be asked to complete a Multi-Factor Authentication before you can use many of our applications, including Office 365 and Me@Reading. We have implemented this change to improve the security and safety of our community, and our systems and services.

Using Multi-Factor Authentication would generally involve either saying ‘Approve’ to a login notification on your smartphone or entering a unique code available on your phone.

We recommend that you download the Microsoft Authenticator App on your smartphone to help you do this. This app is available for AndroidiOS and Windows smartphones.

Instructions on how to set up the app are available on the Remote Services Access Guide.

 

Need help?

Our friendly staff are always here to help if you need guidance with Microsoft Teams. Contact the IT Service Desk using the IT Self Service Portal or emailing dts@reading.ac.uk.

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