IT Provides Support for Students, Staff and Faculty

The GW community has access to online technical support services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Online Learning
GW IT has online resources such as software and support services to aid GW students, staff and faculty in working from home. (Photo by: Maansi Srivastava)
May 01, 2020

The George Washington University Information Technology (GW IT) division has virtual resources to help the university community stay productive and connected while working and studying remotely.  

“While COVID-19 presented unique challenges across the country, GW Information Technology was well prepared to provide remote support to students, faculty and staff,” said Loretta Early, GW’s chief information officer.

Ms. Early said that GW IT staff normally dispatched to provide in-person support easily adjusted to providing online support because telecommuting contingencies were already a normal part of GW IT’s business continuity plans. That includes provisions allowing staff to work from home and respond to requests for support via phone and email, processing support tickets and remaining in constant contact with campus partners.

“One interesting side effect of our ‘new norm’ is that providing support remotely has increased GW IT’s capacity for the number of students, faculty and employees our teams can assist,” Ms. Early said, because workers are spending less time getting to in-person sites and more time answering help requests remotely.

She said GW IT staff are working tirelessly to provide support and services to the GW community including providing online assistance with communication tools and technical support. Between March 15 and April 14, GW IT processed 1,842 troubleshooting and 879 requests for new or modified services. In addition, more than 13,700 knowledge articles were accessed during this time.

“I am so proud of how our GW community came together and obviously proud of the response by our GW IT team who prepared business continuity plans for possible situations that would require remote work and online instruction,” Ms. Early said. “We were able to leverage these plans in order to make the sudden transition as streamlined as possible. Focused efforts in crisis planning, strategic technology investments and ongoing collaboration across diverse teams have allowed GW to remain such a strong community during this historic time.”

Here is a roundup of technical support resources available:

Technical support

Although the GW IT walk-up support center is currently closed due to COVID-19 campus closures, technical support is still being offered virtually. 

Technical support issues can be directed to the GW IT Support Center staff by phone—7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday—at 202-994-4948 and by email ([email protected]).

Employees may also submit support tickets or direct questions to Martha Chatbot for 24/7 assistance.

Communications tools

The GW community has the capability to securely and effectively work while away from campus, as many of the day-to-day tasks completed in the office can also be accomplished remotely without the need of additional software. However, a few applications may require specialized hardware, software or access permissions.

The most commonly used tools can be accessed as easily at home as if you were on campus.

These services include:

Email

GWMail, the university’s email system for student, faculty, staff and alumni, can be accessed by visiting the myGWPortal and selecting “email” from the left menu and then selecting your access category--“Student,” “Staff and Faculty” or “Alumni.” Login in with your GW NetID ([email protected]) account information.

It also integrates the university’s calendar services.

Phone

Colonial Connect offers a variety of services that can direct voice calls and integrate mobile capabilities across devices including Jabber, which allows users to make and receive calls, check voicemail, receive voicemail messages in your email inbox, group chat and share video and desktop with someone else all from their computer. 

Colonial Connect Conferencing allows for eight-party conference calls, with a dial-in number and code available upon request, and with the single number reach feature, calls to your office office extension will ring on your mobile device.

E-fax, desktop phone and other voice call services are also available.

Video

WebEx is available to all GW students, faculty and staff.

The collaborative meeting tool allows for real-time video meetings and desktop sharing computer over the web. Sessions can be recorded and can accommodate up to 1,000 users in a simultaneous single session.

To begin using your WebEx account, login to gwu.webex.com with your GW email address and corresponding password.

Sharing and storage

GW Box is the university's enterprise file sharing service for online cloud storage and collaboration. It is free for GW students, faculty and staff.

With GW Box users can access files and folders from all major web browsers and through mobile devices, sync to automatically save files as they work on them and share file and folder with other others while controlling access with a range of permissions from preview-only to full editing and collaboration rights.

Users should adhere to the university's Acceptable Use for Computing Systems and Services when using GW Box. 

Apps and software

GW has a robust slate of applications and collaborative tools that provide students, faculty and staff with the flexibility to choose the right tool for their specific needs.

The Microsoft Office 365 suite of online and desktop applications allows users to create, share and collaborate on documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Popular applications include Word, Excel and PowerPoint, and more.

GW community members have access to all G-Suite applications, including drive, docs, sheets and slides.

GW is one of a select group of “Adobe Creative Campuses” across the country that are leading the way in digital competency initiatives to support creative teaching strategies in higher education. Adobe Creative Cloud includes 20 desktop and mobile applications for design, photography, video and web, including such powerful creative tools as Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Acrobat, Premier Pro, Lightroom and many others. 

Virtual private network 

GW's Virtual Private Network (VPN) allows remote access to many university systems and resources that are otherwise protected from off-campus access.

Most GW online resources do not require use of a VPN. However, some applications such as Banner Administration, the Enterprise Accounting System and GWDocuments do require a VPN for off-campus access. 

You can find instructions to download the GW VPN at this website.

Network improvements

For essential staff and students remaining on campus, GW IT is continuing upgrades to the wireless network. 

Generally,  throughout the GW community, more than 50,000 devices connect to the Internet through 7,500 wireless access points each day. Teams have been surveying wireless access points and upgrading and replacing wireless controllers based on survey results.

These upgrades will provide students, faculty and staff with faster wireless speeds, improved roaming experiences, more robust coverage and better performance in congested areas.

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