Good evening all of my virtual friends,

Are any of you like me and finding yourself more exhausted at the end of the day / week when working or learning remotely versus being in your office or in the classroom? Well, I don’t know that I can solve that in one email, but Todd Vanek and I wanted to offer a few tips and tweaks to try to make it a little easier for you. Todd is the Assistant Director of VCEA’s Engineering and Technology Management program. It’s 100% online so he and his faculty are pretty adept at doing this stuff. As far as the tech side of things goes, I keep coming across tons of things and suggestions from others that might make some of your lives easier. Let’s dive in.

Sluggish Internet?

With all of us being home most of the time, our Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are struggling to keep up. There are some things that you can do that may help with your connections at home.

  • Wifi Vs. Wired: Is everything on WiFi in your home? If so, you might be loading down your wireless router. Ones that are built in to Cable or DSL modems are not very powerful and may not be able to handle simultaneous streams with other household members trying to “do their thing.” If you can run an Ethernet cable to any of your devices, especially your streaming devices and your computer, it might just help with internal congestion in your router.

Blackboard is down again!?!?!?!

It’s no secret that Blackboard is struggling to keep up as well. We’re hearing lots of reports that it is very slow or crashing. The good news is that Blackboard is only acting as a connection portal to your Zoom classes. If Blackboard is down, you can still connect to the Zoom meetings directly.

For Instructors: You can schedule a recurring meeting / calendar entry for your students / colleagues or simply email them the link to the meeting. To prevent Zoombombing, we do recommend setting your meetings up with a password or requiring authentication.

For Students: Make sure you login to Zoom via the desktop / mobile app or by visiting You can join a meeting (class) once signed in.

Zoom like a boss!

By now, we’re all Zoom experts, right? You may not consider yourself one, but you’ve come a long way in the span of 3 weeks. We are still finding new things every day that can help or hinder your experience using Zoom. Here is one of the latest things we’ve encountered.

  • Update Now and Often: Zoom is releasing updates very frequently to roll out improvements and features as well as fixing bugs and performance issues. On Windows or Mac, click your initials icon on the upper right and select Check for Updates. (If it tells you that Updates have been disabled, we found out today that we need to uninstall and reinstall Zoom. Zoom previously released a Windows Installer version that had updates disabled. If you need help, just ask us.)

We’ve added a bunch of new information including more tutorials and info for students on our VCEA IT page. Please visit the VCEA IT website to make yourself even more of a Zoom expert or find other useful info. Thanks to Steve Saunders from the Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering for sharing his video tutorials as well.

To VPN, or not to VPN: that is the question.

Did you notice WSU’s brief Internet outage yesterday afternoon? If you did, you were probably on the VPN. A good reminder for us all is to disconnect from WSU’s VPN when we aren’t using it. Things like email, Zoom, Blackboard, myWSU, etc. don’t require the VPN. It’s also good to keep in mind that ALL of your Internet traffic goes through the VPN when connected, so if you forget to logout in the evenings, your binge watching might be going all the back to WSU before it hits the Internet.

If you have questions with the Blackboard / Course Instruction side of things, Todd has said his team in ETM will do everything they can to help out. Feel free to reach out to them.

For all the techie things, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or my team at the HelpDesk. Don’t forget we’re staffing a Zoom room. You can always reach out via the normal methods:  create a ticket; by email or 509-335-6773

Have a great evening and Happy Almost Friday!

Tony and Todd

Tony Burt
Director of Information Technology
Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture
Washington State University
Phone: 509-335-1157

G. Todd Vanek, Ph.D.
Assistant Director, Engineering and Technology Management
Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture
PO Box 642785
Pullman, WA 99164-2785
Engineering Teaching/Research Lab Building (ETRL)
Room 303