Remote Workforce Technology Readiness and Deployment Plan

OVERVIEW

Due to the outbreak of the CoronaVirus (COVID-19), SEEM Technology will be identifying and implementing the requirements of a remote workforce.  This will include the deployment of various tools to meet the needs of delivering a remote workforce at SEEM Collaborative. This will apply to SEEM employees and students who require such access per our SEEM Leadership team.  Therefore, over the next few days, the SEEM Technology Department (SEEM IT), will be revisiting and enhancing the current infrastructure of our network, as well as preparing remote devices for this type of access.  Due to the short time frame available, this ramp-up deployment may include employees home devices in addition to deploying SEEM laptops to employees for remote usage.

For the more information and details, please see Remote Learning Environment

Below outlines some of the details of getting setup effectively during this emergency period.  Unless noted otherwise, all are resources that we currently have in place and staff are actively using these tools today. 

What does that mean and what are the next steps?

Communications and Support

SEEM IT will be communicating with employees primarily via email.  SEEM also has setup a website to help provide a central location for tools and Tech Support resources as well as Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

VPN and Remote Access Resources

SEEM Collaborative has the following VPN technology currently in place today.
The Technology Department is actively using these tools for system maintenance and support.   Below are the types of remote access tools and the differences between them. These tools will be expanded to enhance the remote workforce experience. 

Determination of which tools works best is dependent on the needs of the remote worker and limitations of the tools themselves.

  1. SSL VPN – This is a browser based (HTTPS) VPN connection to SEEM.  *
    • Restrictions – 2 licenses per Site (Central is one Site);
    • Limited to 2 concurrent connections per site
    • Requires an additional VPN Login IDs per user
    • Small number of users already have this capability
      * to be discontinued in the SY2o-21
  2. Global VPN Client –  This is a Sonicwall dedicated VPN client software application.
    • Restrictions – 50 licenses per site
    • Needs to be installed and configure per device
    • NO VPN USERID is required.  Authentication is provided at the network level. 
    • Limitations:  Depreciated support for Apple (MacOS)
  3. Microsoft Remote Desktop Services
    • Access to employee’s classroom computers and school environment is available via Microsoft RDP (Remote Desktop Services). This technology is available in both Windows and Mac environments.

Videoconferencing and Collaborations solutions

  1. ZOOM conferencing – ZOOM CEO announced FREE ACCESS to Zoom videoconferencing for all educational organizations (during COVID-19 crisis period).
    • Organizations are required to “apply” for this free access.
      (SEEM has applied for this on 3/14/2020 4:44pm)
    • Free means the 40-minute time limit has been removed
    • Free download required per device (laptop, desktop, mobile devices)
    • Each staff/teacher will need to download, install, signup with their SEEM Email
    • For a limited time period.
  2. Google Hangouts Meet is a video communication service part of GSuite for Education. It is one of two apps that constitute the new version of Google Hangouts, the other being Google Hangouts Chat. The classic version called Google Hangouts was retired October 2019.

Virtual Learning Solutions and Strategy *

  1. Google Classroom – Google Classroom is included service in GSuite for Education  for creating, distributing and grading assignments in a paperless environment.
    • SEEM staff utilize their seemcollaborative.org email accounts. 
    • SEEM Teachers need to request membership in the Classroom Teachers group before being able to create (host) classrooms.  
  2. Zoom Conferencing
    Note: A Zoom account is not needed to join someone else’s meeting . If teachers need to “host” their own meetings, then they will need to “Sign up” with their SEEM Collaborative emails addresses for the currently FREE accounts.

* All tools above can be used in conjunction to achieve a virtual classroom environment

Equipment, Purchases and Alternative devices

SEEM may provide laptops to their remote workforce employees.  Alternatively or in addition to, during crisis mode, may configure employees home (BYOD) devices for remote access/VPN.   

Depending on the resultant size of the remote workforce at SEEM, SEEM IT may need to purchase and/or provision additional end user devices such as laptops, Chromebooks, iPads, WebCams, headphones, etc. to meet the demands of remote workforce.

Security Considerations

Due to the increased number of employees given VPN and remote access, security risks naturally increases as well.  To mitigate the impact of these inherent risks, the following SEEM IT Policies will need to be revisited, updated and, in some cases, created where applicable.  

  1. VPN encryption keys recycling intervals will need to be revisited and shortened
  2. VPN UserIds and passwords expiration windows added or shortened
  3. Anti-Virus software auto detection and verification will need to be performed on all remote devices, especially those owned by employees personal devices. 

Remote Workforce Hours and Non-Emergency Support *

All requests for non-emergency support should start by submitting a SEEM Helpdesk ticket. If your ticket requires remote support, staff may then Book a Time with SEEM Tech Support.

SEEM Tech support hours are the same as the normal school work week.

*  All off-hour non-emergency support for Tech Support should be requested and coordinated in advance.