For the latest information and additional details about Mason’s response to COVID-19, please see the Safe Return to Campus website.

For information about new educational technologies, updates to IT resources both online and on-campus, and IT support for the fall 2020 semester, see Fall 2020 Technology Updates.

Last update:  September 1, 2020 

How to maintain continuity when you can't be in the office or classroom

Both for routine and extraordinary events, it is helpful to be prepared to use technology tools that can help you stay connected to the workplace or the classroom from a remote location.

This guide offers useful resources for working and learning remotely that are available to Mason students, faculty, and staff.

ITS recommends that you stay in touch with your school or department IT support staff and leadership for guidance on best practices and resources for working remotely.

How to Get Help

The ITS Support Center serves as a central point of contact for the Mason community for IT support and information.

Students

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Tools and Technology You'll Need

Collaboration Tools, Email, and Productivity

Email

MasonLive is the official email system for Mason students.

  • A 50 GB mailbox
  • The ability to send attachments up to 25 MB
  • Access to a global address book/directory containing all Mason students
  • Personal calendar that can be shared with friends and classmates
  • Learn more at MasonLive (Email for Students)

Collaboration & Productivity Tools (chat, web conferencing, document sharing, etc.)

Students are granted a Basic Zoom account. This allows hosting of up to 100 participants for a maximum of 40 minutes per meeting. If you require more than a Basic account, you may request an upgraded account at Zoom.

Getting Software

Accessing Academic Software Remotely
The Citrix Virtual Lab provides remote access to academic software. Students and faculty with a VPN connection can access the necessary software needed to support online coursework. The Citrix Lab provides a standard computer lab image as is normally available in University Computer Labs. For information on how to connect or the software currently available see Citrix Virtual Lab.

Microsoft Office Software
Mason students can access Microsoft Office (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, etc.) at no cost. Each student may install Microsoft Office on up to five computers and five mobile devices. See Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise (formerly Office 365 ProPlus) for details and download instructions.

Adobe Software for Students
Students may purchase an Adobe subscription for personal use through purchasing directly with Adobe. Students may purchase individual subscriptions of Adobe Creative Cloud with discounted student pricing ($19.99/month-to-month or $239.88/full year one time). Details for student pricing can be found at Adobe's Creative Cloud for Students page.

Eligibility for student pricing requires proof. If a student provides a school-issued email address during purchase, they are instantly verified. If they do not have a school-issued email address or their email address cannot be verified, additional proof of eligibility may be requested after purchase. Additional proof of eligibility may include a school ID card, report card, transcript, or tuition bill issued by the institution with the student’s name, institution name, and current date. Details for proof of eligibility can be found at Adobe's Creative Cloud for Students Eligibility page.

Connecting to Mason Applications and Services

Connecting from home
For most types of work—email, cloud apps, collaboration platforms—you should be able to connect through your regular home internet service. Just navigate to the sites you need to use and log in using your Mason NetID and Patriot Pass Password.

If you are enrolled in Mason's Two-Factor Authentication, be ready to use it to complete the login process for certain websites/applications.

Connecting through a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
For some types of work, like if you are working in an application or service that can only be accessed through the Mason wired or Mason-Secure Wi-Fi networks, you might need to use the Virtual Private Network (VPN). The VPN allows a user to appear as if they are logging in from within Mason’s network.

Continuity of Instruction
Compute Safely

  • When working remotely, it is especially important to remain vigilant about data security. Additionally, be aware of the increased risk for phishing attempts and make sure your devices are protected with antivirus software.
  • Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) is available for all students and students are encouraged to enroll – learn more and enroll at 2fa.gmu.edu today to protect your information.
  • Review University Policy 1301: Responsible Use of Computing that explains what constitutes acceptable and appropriate use of campus computing and network resources

Get Support

If you need help while learning remotely, the ITS Support Center is here for you!

  • Phone: 703-993-8870
  • Email: support@gmu.edu
  • Online Chat: https://go.gmu.edu/ITSupport
    • Monday–Thursday: 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.  (*closed Thursday 3 p.m.–4 p.m. for a team meeting)
    • Friday: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
    • Saturday: Closed
    • Sunday: 1 – 9 p.m.

Browse our knowledge base articles, request a service, or submit a help ticket.

Faculty/Staff

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Tools and Technology You'll Need

Collaboration Tools, Email, and Productivity

Email

Office 365 is the official email and calendar for Mason faculty and staff. It can be accessed via the login at mail.gmu.edu by using your Mason credentials (Mason NetID and Patriot Pass Password) and Two-Factor Authentication (2FA).

Collaboration & Productivity Tools (chat, web conferencing, document sharing, etc.) 

See all Email and Collaboration Tools knowledge articles for how-tos and FAQs.

Connecting to Mason Applications and Services

Connecting from home
For most types of work—email, cloud apps, collaboration platforms—you should be able to connect through your regular home internet service. Just navigate to the sites you need to use and log in using your Mason NetID and Patriot Pass Password. If you are an employee, including student workers, be ready to use Two-Factor Authentication to complete the login process.

If you don't have broadband internet at home
If you don't have internet at home, or if your connection speed is too slow to allow you to work the same way you would if you were at Mason, be sure to let your supervisor and co-workers know, and come up with a plan for how to keep collaboration flowing. You could connect periodically to send and receive email and files, share files through a removable 'thumb' drive, or use a cellular hotspot.

Connecting through a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
For some types of work, like if you are working in an application or service that can only be accessed through the Mason wired or Mason-Secure Wi-Fi networks, you might need to use the Virtual Private Network (VPN). The VPN allows a user to appear as if they are logging in from within Mason’s network. If you require the VPN, it's a good idea to test the connection prior to starting remote work if possible.

Connecting Via the Windows Virtual Desktop (VDI) on a Personal Device 
For some individuals, bringing home your work computer is not an option. In the event you need to work remotely, but still need access to certain applications on your personal device, the virtual desktop can provide an experience similar to being on-campus, connected to a computer in your office. The Windows Virtual Desktop (VDI) service is secure remote access to a Windows desktop environment that provides access to Mason applications from off-campus.  

Phone and Voicemail

Call forwarding to an external line, such as a cell or home phone, is available. Contact your department’s Telecom Coordinator (if unsure, contact your office manager or Telecom Administrationto coordinate getting this service.

All telephone and voice mail requests must be processed through your department's Telecom Coordinator.

Continuity of Instruction

Compute Safely

  • George Mason University employees teleworking are reminded that any devices used to access Mason’s Virtual Private Network (VPN) are required to have a current operating system and updated software. Devices using the VPN should only be used by Mason employees. Devices managed by ITS in MESA Active Directory and Jamf Pro for Mac OS are automatically set up to receive the latest operating system and software. Employees are encouraged to use a managed system whenever possible. Employees who access sensitive information should only use Mason-owned devices.
  • Employees using their personal home computers to telework should use the Windows Virtual Desktop (VDI) service. This provides secure remote access to a Windows desktop environment with access to Mason applications from off-campus. Employees using this option on their personal devices are not approved for storing sensitive data and therefore, should not print sensitive data using the print to PDF option. However, data can be stored to the M: drive. Understand that the VDI is intended for university work only and employees are bound by all university policies when using this resource.
  • When working remotely, it is especially important to remain vigilant about data security. Make sure you are on the appropriate connection for each task; for example, use a VPN or other equally secure connection when handling sensitive or restricted data. Additionally, be aware of the increased risk for phishing attempts. Check with your department IT support staff to make sure you are equipped to work safely while off-campus.
  • Antivirus Software
  • Read Mason’s University Policy 2202: Flexible Work
  • Review University Policy 1301: Responsible Use of Computing that explains what constitutes acceptable and appropriate use of campus computing and network resources

Devices: Hardware & Software

Getting Hardware 
ITS requires that faculty and staff use Mason-managed endpoint devices for their work and research. For assistance with configuring a computer system, please contact the ITS Support Center. For more information, go to:

Password Reminders for Computing Remotely
You are required to reset your Patriot Pass Password every 180 days. ITS sends daily emails to users 14 days before passwords expire. Be alert for these messages and reset your password before it expires to avoid disrupting access to Patriot Web, employee email, Blackboard, etc.

  • Mason-Managed Windows Users: If you are working remotely and reset your password, you must connect to the Virtual Private Network (VPN) to sync your new password and complete the reset process.
  • Mason-Managed Mac Users: Most Mac users do not require additional steps to sync their computer after resetting their password.
  • Additional details and instructions for syncing your computer are available at How to Sync Your Computer After Resetting Your Password

Software on Managed Mason-owned Computers
Software is available through System Center Configuration Manager-SCCM (for PCs) or Jamf Pro (for Macs).

Users on Mason-managed computers should routinely connect to the VPN to ensure that you receive timely software updates.

Unmanaged Computers and Non-Standard Software
Support Resources for Non-Standard Software and Tools

Users on unmanaged Mason-owned systems are encouraged to be managed in order to receive Mason enterprise software and routine operating system updates. To request to have a Mason-owned device managed, visit Desktop Support and click the Request Managed Enrollment button.

Administrative Processes

Electronic Signatures
The Code of Virginia and federal law, including the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, permit the use of electronic signatures on contracts; however, such signatures must be unique and verifiable as they demonstrate each party’s intention to be bound to the contract terms. If electronic signatures are to be used, both parties should agree that digital or electronic signatures are acceptable, and it should be explicitly stated and agreed to in the contract language.

Guidance for the Use of Electronic (Digital) Signatures at Mason

Plan for Remote Work

To stay effective during events that necessitate telework, it’s important to make preparations, ideally before the disruption occurs. Within your department or group, you should:

  • Discuss how your group(s) will handle business disruptions
  • Develop and document a communication plan that covers how your department or group will:
    • Provide important updates and information
    • Communicate during emergencies
    • Conduct routine collaboration on projects
  • In your communication plan, clarify which tools and platforms will be used for routing information. These could include:
    • Your departmental intranet or shared drive
    • Email
    • Web conferencing for virtual meetings
    • Telephone features such as call forwarding
    • Online chat (via Webex Teams)
    • VPN or VDI to connect to Mason applications from off-campus
  • Assign responsibilities, and assemble a list that includes names and contact information (including personal phone numbers) for the people who are carrying out the plan
  • Share documentation of your plan within your group in a location where all members can easily access
  • Review your plan at least annually, updating contact lists and tools as appropriate
  • Make sure your group members are signed up for ITS Alerts

Keep in mind that during a major disaster, some online services may not be available until they are recovered or restored.

Get Support

If you need help while working remotely, the ITS Support Center is here for you!

  • Phone: 703-993-8870
  • Email: support@gmu.edu
  • Online Chat: https://go.gmu.edu/ITSupport
    • Monday–Thursday: 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.  (*closed Thursday 3 p.m.–4 p.m. for a team meeting)
    • Friday: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
    • Saturday: Closed
    • Sunday: 1 – 9 p.m.

Browse our knowledge base articles, request a service, or submit a help ticket.