The Definitive Guide to Slow Internet

Since the beginning of virtual school, students have submitted at least 188 tickets to the IT helpdesk. Of those tickets, the largest single source of problems (56 tickets; 31%) is students’ slow home internet connections. China’s limited overseas connectivity causes slow home internet connections – essentially, there is an internet traffic jam between China and the rest of the world.

China’s internet traffic jam is so bad that Microsoft has published an article about it.

While the IT helpdesk can’t disperse this traffic jam, the helpdesk has found common workarounds that help students to submit their work. Click Continue reading below to see the full list.

Continue reading “The Definitive Guide to Slow Internet”

Virtual School Briefing, Thurs. Jan 30

The Tech Ambassadors met yesterday to bring you the rest of this week’s briefings.

Can my EAL co-teacher and TA be added to my Canvas course?

Yes, you can and should add co-teachers and TAs to your Canvas course by clicking on “People” in your course’s left nav bar.


See for more detail.

I want to record myself giving instructions and post the video for students. How should I…

Use the free Screencast-o-matic, recommended by Tech Ambassadors Trish M and Dave S, or the built-in Quicktime Player app to record your screen and narration. The former lets you record video of yourself as well, which I like to add flair.

Upload the video to Microsoft Stream, which will give you a URL you can post in Canvas. Remember, most of our students do not have VPNs so you cannot post to YouTube.

Seriously, remember, most of our students do not have VPNs.

If you want to use an instructional video from YouTube, download it using the free ClipGrab application on your Mac and then upload that to Stream.

The Tech Ambassadors also like EdPuzzle for sharing videos, since it lets you both watch the video with VPN and add interactive quiz questions.

There’s no I in Teams, but there is an I in Microsoft.

In the shift to virtual school we’ve lost an essential way to collaborate with teachers and give feedback to students: face-to-face interaction. Microsoft Teams is a robust messaging and collaboration platform built-in to Office 365 so all our teachers, staff and students have accounts. You can use Teams to schedule meetings with individual or multiple other people or groups. Each invitee is sent a link that lets them enter a video chatroom. The chatroom includes a shared virtual whiteboard and meeting notes section to share your work.

Liza F figured this out and set up recurring meetings so her students having a standing drop-in video chatroom for office hours – see this video to watch how she did it (log in to O365 first).

We’ll be revisiting this topic in future briefings.

Can I just make a website where students can book a time with me?

Calendly is what you’re looking for. It links to your Outlook calendar and creates a website where students can choose times to meet with you – like when you book a haircut online in the States. The free version lets you create one page for bookings.

Workarounds for VPN Service Restrictions

Our VPN provider has informed us that due to the upcoming CPC National Congress, they must comply with government regulations limiting access to overseas websites from October 9 to October 28. During this tim​e, the following services will not be available on the school network:​
  • ​Facebook
  • YouTube
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Line
  • Instagram​
​Other overseas websites, including Google Search and Gmail, will not be affected.

While you probably don’t use the above tools in your classes, you may miss YouTube for showing educational videos. To work around this, consider​
  • ​Contacting Dianne in the library. She has curated a great selection of subscription academic resources that she would be happy to show you.
  • Using ClipGrab ( to download YouTube videos ahead of time
  • Using Stream, part of Office 365, to upload those videos so that they are accessible to students. You can also upload them to Canvas, but you may get better performance from stream.
  • TeacherTube ( is full of educational videos​
Also be aware that ExpressVPN may be blocked or severely limited from Oct 9 to 28. We have not received any specific information about this, but in the past the government has cracked down on foreign VPN services during sensitive times. One workaround to let you access your personal Gmail account is to add it to the Outlook app on your smartphone. Outlook checks your Gmail through Microsoft’s servers, meaning that you can access your Gmail without a VPN if you use the Outlook app.​