14

As in many other universities, due to the coronavirus outbreak now we are supposed to do our teaching online in videoconference style. Our university suggests using either Microsoft Teams or Google Meet, but I am not so keen on using a service run by one of these data-collecting behemoths where "you are the product".

Which alternatives exist to these two big players for videoconferencing with a large number of students?

For my lectures, I would like to share my desktop's content (livestream) and my voice on microphone. Students should hopefully also have a way to give feedback and ask questions. You may assume ca. 100-200 students.

My university used to have an internal videoconferencing service but they discontinued it.

I would prefer something open source, in theory: I understand that bandwidth does not grow on trees, but that seems like a problem that could be solved using p2p, at least in theory. Otherwise, I am open to considering other commercial services that are a bit more privacy-preserving; for instance, something run by a company less focused on advertising and monetizing user data. Apple looks slightly better, and so does Amazon (Twitch -- it has ads, but I don't know how intrusive they are).

In the past I used to publish my in-class lecture videos, but I realize that by doing so without a class I would lose all interactivity.

5

BigBlueButton is software designed for remote teaching. It makes it possible to teach using videos, share slides, annotate them, do breakout rooms, etc., and can be integrated with Moodle. It is open-source and can be self-hosted.

It is apparently not easy to set up, but can be done, and can scale to dozens of participants provided they don't all have their webcam set up (e.g., only the instructor and a few people asking questions share the webcam).

| improve this answer | |
2

A few resources exist to pick your free/libre and open source software:

Others have resources on how bad the proprietary software is:

In France there are more options:

In Italy there's some self-organisation:

Some free software like Jitsi is extremely easy to set up but also very generous in its default configuration (allowing a number of participants or video quality which Google and Microsoft don't dream of allowing), so it's easy to go beyond its limits and end up dissatisfied.

When you need 100-200 simultaneous users, it's better to use a commercial provider with some experience handling such traffic. They can advise on how to configure your free software of choice so that it satisfies your needs without melting. You can usually find a list of the more established providers on the official website of the software project.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.