COVID-19 - Open access services for online teaching

Due to the spread of COVID-19, schools are being closed across the board and teachers and pupils are going to have to communicate via the Internet. Here we list free tools that can be used by teachers to create a remote teaching environment for a class.

1. Jitsi Meet

Jitsi Meet is a web application for audio and video conferencing, which teachers and pupils can use for online lessons. Each participant sees a tile view showing the transmissions of others. A click on the Hand symbol allows one to "put their hand up". It is also possible to transmit the contents of the user's screen, or just a single window, instead of the video feed. This allows the teacher to show slides etc. There is also a text-based chat facility via which information such as links can be shared.

Where can I find Jitsi Meet?

As well as the official instance, Teckids also provide an instance of Jitsi Meet specifically for use in education. The address is meet.teckids.org. Jitsi Meet can be accessed with Desktop devices from the web browser or on smartphones/tablets with the Jitsi Meet app (available from app stores).

Do I need to have an account to use Jitsi Meet?

No, Jitsi Meet works without an account. One simply shares the link that leads to the conference room. All participants then need to click that link, and then grant access to the microphone and camera in the browser.

How can I see who is participating in the video conference?

The participants can use the three-dots menu at the bottom right of the browser window to identify themselves by specifying (first) name and, if applicable, email address.

Who can create conference rooms?

Anyone can create rooms, without restriction.

Can I create passwords for rooms?

Yes. Room Passwords can be set via the "i" that is to be found at the bottom right of the browser window.

Are pure audio conferences also possible?

Yes, that is also possible. However, if you do not need video or screen transmission, we would request that you use the Mumble tool instead (see below) to save resources.

2. BigBlueButton

BigBlueButton provides video conferencing and a lot more, to facilitate and improve online teaching. This includes an interactive whiteboard that the presenter can use alone, or all participants can share as a whiteboard, or on which anyone can create presentation material.

The solution also offers extensive Moderation and collaboration opportunities, so-called "breakout rooms", to temporarily split a group into smaller groups, and a lot more.

Where can I find BigBlueButton?

In addition to the demo instance, Teckids e.V. provide their own BigBlueButton instance, which is specifically provided for Educational use. The address for the latter is bbb.teckids.org.

Do I need an account for BigBlueButton?

Yes. To create a room you need an account (see Teckids account below). The access to existing rooms depends on the settings for the room. This includes the possibility of allowing guest access, in which case no account would be required for guest users.

3. Moodle

Moodle is a learning platform for managing online courses, creating tasks and uploading learning material. It is remarkable because students are able to simply verify their results as well as being able to submit their work via the platform. One can get a good overview of the extensive functionality by looking at the Teacher quick guide on the official Moodle website.

Where can I use Moodle?

Many schools and school authorities offer Moodle instances. In addition, the Moodle instance run by Teckids e.V. can be found here: lms.teckids.org and is available to all.

Do I need an account for Moodle?

Yes. To create a course you need an account (see Teckids account below). Access to existing courses is possible for guests without an account, if the course settings allow.

Who can access my courses?

Access can be granted via the Course Administration area. Courses can also be secured with passwords.

Do I have to install extra software?

No, Moodle works entirely in the browser. However, there is also a Moodle app for smartphones.

4. Nextcloud

Nextcloud is a platform for managing files and sharing them either publicly or privately. It works in a way that should be familiar from other cloud services. It also offers other facilities such as Calendar, polls or to-do lists.

Where can I find a Nextcloud instance?

Teckids e.V. offers the use of its Nextcloud instance at cloud.teckids.org. There are also many commercial providers as well as the possibility of self-hosting.

Do I need an account?

Yes. To upload files to the cloud, you need an Account (see Teckids account). Uploaded files and/or created directories can be made available to unregistered users, by sharing links. Depending on the settings, shared folders can be created that allow uploads by non-registered participants.

Do I have to install extra software?

Nextcloud can be used in the browser, but there is also software for Synchronization with a computer or with Android or iOS devices.

5. Mumble

Mumble is software that you can use to hold online voice conferences. This can even work reliably with quite poor internet connections (e.g. over the cell phone network).

Where can I find Mumble?

Teckids provides a Mumble server at meet.teckids.org which anyone is allowed to use.

Do I need an account?

No registration is required to use Mumble. However, if you want to be able to save conference rooms permanently, that requires you to complete a simple, one-time registration that is done within Mumble. (self -> Register in the menu). A Teckids account is not necessary.

Do I have to install extra software?

Yes, you need to install additional software. But this is Free and gratis and is available from the normal package systems for Linux distributions, from various app Stores or alternatively can be downloaded direct from the Mumble website and then installed.

Can I create my own conference rooms?

Yes, it is possible.

Are these rooms private or can other users enter them?

One can restrict access to the conference rooms by assigning a password or by maintaining a list of authorized users.

6. EduVid

EduVid is a video platform made for everyone who wants to upload and share videos in educational areas. Content which is produces with or by children and adolescents can be published too. The usage of EduVid is quite similar to the usage of other well-known video platforms.

Where can I find EduVid?

EduVid is a PeerTube instance hostet by Teckids e.V.. You can reach this site under eduvid.org.

Do I need an account?

To only watch videos, no registration is required. But to upload content, rate and comment videos you need to sign in with a Teckids account.

Who is able to watch my uploaded videos?

EduVid is openly accessible, what means everybody can see the content, which is uploaded. So please act carefully with publishing your videos.

Teckids account

As mentioned above, a Teckids account is required in order to access some of our services. Registration is free. The terms of use and the operation of the services allow students to register without any legal hurdles.

Anybody can register for an account. via our administrative software (TIC-Desk). It is important to use correct/valid data as we have to block accounts with obviously incorrect data. The required personal data fulfil the German legal requirements both of "data frugality" and protection of the young.

Service operation

Teckids e.V. is a non-profit organization in which pupils, educators and computer scientists work together to develop Free Software, not only educational software, but also software useful for supporting educators in their work. Our team are doing their best to expand the services we offer, in response to the current situation. We would particularly like to thank Kirill Schmidt, Benedict Suska, Tom Teichler, Philipp Stahl, Jakob Kirsch and Jonah Döll (ages 10 to 16) for their work. We welcome offers of support (either financial or practical) where they help to ease the challenges we face.

Should we have sparked your curiosity about providing free and open tools, the team is available via e-mail for presentations and consultations in schools (under normal circumstances -- Jitsi might be a better idea at present).

Support and questions

The team is available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. for support requests, via email: verein@teckids.org.