Working and Learning Off Campus
Learn, teach, and work online when you can't be on campus.
Find Services & Technologies
This guide points to useful resources for working and learning remotely that are available to UMN students, faculty, and staff.
A few students, faculty, and staff who are now learning and working off campus may need a new or different internet plan. Some Internet Service Providers are offering free or discounted services for people who qualify.
Contact service providers who serve your area to learn more, or see access information for some providers on our Get Internet Access Off Campus page.
Zoom and Google Hangouts Meet enable you to meet online. Compare Zoom and Google Hangouts Meet to learn which solution is right for you.
Hold meetings, office hours, study groups, and webinars online.
Log in to Zoom: zoom.umn.edu
- Zoom: Training and Help Center
- Recommended Headsets and Webcams
- Zoom: Understand HCC Requirements training (required for HCC users before hosting a Zoom Meeting)
- Zoom: Zoom for Google Calendar Add-on
- Zoom: Zoom Access to University Data
*New* April 5, 2020
Enhance the accessibility of online meetings by enabling Zoom’s Auto-Transcription feature for participants. This feature turns spoken words into text in real-time; increasing access to your material for people who:
- are in a loud or public space
- do not have access to headphones or speakers
- are English language learners
- benefit from hearing and reading content simultaneously
Note: Zoom’s Live Transcripts should be used to improve accessibility, but not for accommodation. Choose between a video or written instructions:
- Video how-to Zoom: Manage Automatic Live Transcription
- Written how-to Zoom: Manage Automatic Live Transcription
Google Hangouts Meet
Send messages, share photos, make phone calls, video chat, or host a meeting with one person or an entire group. Note: Google Hangouts Meet is not available to members of the HCC.
Helpful Google Hangouts Meet resources:
Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Some University applications can only be accessed through our on-campus network (eduroam) or through the University's Virtual Private Network (VPN). VPN is a service that uses encryption technologies to allow you to securely connect to the University's network when you are not on campus.
VPN should only be used when resources cannot be accessed by other means. A VPN is not needed for web-based UMN resources and services, such as umn.edu web pages, MyU, University Gmail, Canvas, and UMN G Suite and Office 365.
Helpful VPN resources:
- Download VPN software and review installation instructions
- Health Sciences VPN and Remote Desktop Setup instructions
- VPN Requirements for UMN Applications
Please note the following VPN technical details:
- Maximum connection time for a single session is 12 hours
- Idle timeout is 15 minutes (Idle timeout occurs when network traffic between your computer and the VPN system stops for at least 15 minutes. This situation typically occurs when a computer goes to sleep or is powered down.)
Please note: Some companies may be providing additional or extended access. Please check with your local internet or cellular service providers, as they may be providing additional data options, expanded WiFi access points, mobile hotspots, or other accommodations in response to community needs.
- Create and send email: See What can you do with Gmail?
- Gmail cheat sheet (Google Learning Center)
- Use Gmail to email without an internet connection (Gmail Offline)
- Collaborate with others: See What can you do with Hangouts Chat?
- Hangouts Chat cheat sheet (Google Learning Center)
Microsoft Office 365 is available for students, faculty, and staff at no charge. Download Office 365 for productivity and collaboration tools like Word, Excel, and more.
To sign in to most University applications, Duo Security two-factor authentication is required. Make sure that you have your Duo-enrolled device or pre-generated bypass codes with you when you work or learn off-campus.
Helpful Duo resources:
- Generate and use bypass codes now for use when you really need them. Bypass codes are good for one year. Print them and store them in a secure location.
- No wifi or cell service? No problem! In the event that you are in a location without wifi or cell service, your smartphone can still generate passcodes, or you can use your pre-generated bypass codes.
- If you have only enrolled your office landline phone, to work remotely, you will need to enroll another phone number. This can be your home landline or a cell phone.
Remote Desktop Connection
A Remote Desktop connection allows you to connect remotely to a computer that may be in your office, lab, or at another remote location.
Helpful Remote Desktop Connection resources:
- Connecting to a Remote Windows Computer on a Windows PC using Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection
- Health Sciences VPN and Remote Desktop Setup
Before you set up a Remote Desktop, please be aware of these requirements:
- Prior to the first remote connection on a device, you must contact Technology Help.
- You must be on campus and using the device you want to connect when setting up Remote Desktop. If you plan on using Remote Desktop remotely, contact Technology Help before leaving campus to complete setup.
- Technology Help works with desktop support and local IT to set up Remote Desktop, which happens during normal business hours.
- Remote Desktop requires a VPN connection in order to launch.
Remote Software Access
If you need access to specific software that is not installed on your device, contact your local IT department, or have a departmental representative contact Technology Help. A remote desktop connection or virtual delivery may be options for providing remote access to software.
Store documents and files in the cloud or on a file service that you can access easily from remote locations.
- UMN Google Drive resources
- Drive cheat sheet (Google Learning Center)
- Use Google Drive files offline without an internet connection
- Create Docs, Sheets and Slides: See What can you do with Drive?
Google Shared Drives
Box Secure Storage
Note: Health Sciences users should use Box Secure Storage.
Note: Remote access to OIT managed servers, databases, and files.umn.edu requires the use of the University's VPN system. Once connected to files.umn.edu, mapped drives should be available. Performance may be slower than the on-campus experience.
The University's guidelines about how to use your device securely are useful anytime you go online, but are especially important when you're not on the University's network.
- Use secure WiFi when conducting University business.
- Review the University's policy for using personally-owned devices for University business. Check out the top 10 tips for protecting mobile devices.
- Ensure your computer's software is up to date, including your antivirus software.
- Remember, the same security policies for University business also apply to working off-campus.
- Be on guard against new COVID-19 scams.
Also, do not save work documents to a home computer.
The University’s Technology Help service desk is open 24/7 and available via email, phone, and chat to help answer any questions you may have.
Contact Technology Help for your campus:
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone: 218-281-8000
- Email: email@example.com
- Phone: 218-726-8847
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone: 320-589-6150
- Email: email@example.com
- Phone: 507-258-8748