Guidance for those working or studying from China
Advice for students studying in China and staff based in China
Important note: Access to the University’s services and platforms may be affected by your personal device, Internet connection, bandwidth, firewall settings and other software you have installed. These are factors that the University cannot control or be responsible for and therefore we cannot guarantee access to our services.
If you need to raise a query with the IT Service Desk and you are working from China, please make this clear when you contact us so we can give you the correct guidance.
Access to applications and websites
Access to applications and websites in mainland China can be restricted by the Chinese Government. Restricted or blocked sites can change regularly and vary between regions. Staff should check with students that teaching materials such as essential readings are available. These websites can show the likely availability of web services, but does not guarantee that they will work.
China firewall test: http://www.chinafirewalltest.com/
The China Firewall can also check the content of the data you are sending and receiving over the Internet and when this happens it can cause connectivity issues for all the services you are using at that time.
Networks & Bandwidth
You may experience connectivity issues due to the network provider you use and the speed of the internet connection that is available in the region in which you live.
If your internet provider is China Telecom, you may experience issues using Blackboard Collaborate.
How to improve your internet connection
Use a wired Internet connection, where possible, and avoid using WiFi. If you must use WiFi, get as close to the router as possible.
Close any other open programs so that bandwidth is reserved for the program you are using.
See also: Good practice guidance for improving internet connectivity.
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)
The Chinese Government strongly discourages the use of VPNs. These can be blocked by your network and prevent access to services. A VPN can also limit your internet connection, especially residential broadband connections. This can give you an unreliable or poor connection. Staff and students are advised to consider what they are trying to access and whether a VPN is required.
The University uses Microsoft Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). Follow the instructions to log in https://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/its/MFA/mfa-guide.aspx .
You need a phone number to receive a code. If you have changed your number or phone, contact firstname.lastname@example.org to request your account is reset.
Install and use the Microsoft Authenticator App so you can generate a code without needing an active phone number for the country you are in.
You may need to clear any previously saved usernames and passwords for University services automatically saved by your Internet Browser (clear cache).
If you use Chinese browsers to access online learning activities and materials, you may experience problems.
Mozilla Firefox works in China. Google Chrome does not. Please note that some online services will look slightly different in each of the web browsers.
Firefox should be used when accessing Blackboard or using Blackboard Collaborate.
You can access your module learning materials and submit assignments as normal.
Some students have experienced slowness in trying to open or download documents from Blackboard. You can get access to download files from an alternative folder within your Blackboard module.
You should be aware that not all content is available on the Blackboard mobile app, and Android device users may not be able to access the Playstore in China to download it.
You can use Blackboard with a mobile browser and content is responsive to the size of the device’s screen.
Videos in Microsoft Stream
Your recorded learning materials are hosted in Microsoft Stream. You need to be logged into your Microsoft account to view the videos. You can only view videos for modules that you are enrolled on and have permission to watch. You can find the videos for your module in Blackboard.
It is not possible to download videos from Microsoft Stream.
Office 365 (including Teams and Stream)
The Office 365 software package including Outlook, Teams, OneDrive for Business and the office applications will work as normal in China but you may experience slow uploads to your OneDrive. Reports suggest the service is slower and less robust outside Europe. The most significant factor affecting speed is likely to be network performance (see Networks and Bandwidth section above).
Live Online Sessions
Most connectivity issues using Blackboard Collaborate can be resolved if you:
Use the Mozilla Firefox browser to access Blackboard.
Follow the advice in the Network and Bandwidth section above.
Use the Connection troubleshooting guide. https://sites.reading.ac.uk/tel-support-for-students/2020/03/05/blackboard-collaborate-audio-troubleshooting/
If your internet provider is China Telecom, you may experience issues using Blackboard Collaborate
Blackboard Collaborate automatically makes Dynamic bandwidth adjustments in order to maintain a good audio connection if you have a bad connection. It changes your experience to keep you in the session and may stop showing video or screen sharing.
Popular web browsers in China such as QQ, Sigou and 2345 do not support WebRTC (the technology that Blackboard Collaborate uses for the video and audio) and they cannot be used with Collaborate. The WebRTC checker tools can be used to assess the suitability of a browser
Microsoft Teams Meeting
Generally works well and students have reported fewer issues.