[GUIDE] Using FOSS platforms for your online meetings
Free and open source software (FOSS) is the number one choice for many organisations. It is a great alternative for those who do not have the capacity to pay for numerous licences for their members’ use. In addition, open source software can be used for customisation or deployment on any specific infrastructure, such as an integrated part of other platforms (for instance, e-learning platforms).
Why choose FOSS?
There are at least two reasons. The first is that open source software is freely distributed. This means that anyone can download the code, and run it. Whereas proprietary software comes with a price tag for a licence, or a set of licences, open source software is free. Don’t be misled, however. Free does not mean without cost, as open source software still requires it to be configured and maintained.
The second reason to choose open source is that the code can be modified or adapted to one’s needs. This is very attractive for organisations who would like a tailor-made platform. The software can also be enhanced with new features and updates.
Open source software is created by a community of developers who ensure continuous development and support. Most open source software can be downloaded from the software repository Github.
Open source meeting platforms
Some of the best examples include:
BigBlueButton is an important option for Moodle and other e-learning environments. Due to increased demand during the COVID-19 crisis, the video recording option was temporarily disabled on the BigBlueButton server, and the maximum duration of a meeting reduced to 30 minutes (check back regularly for updates). As with other software, since coding is involved, the help of developers with managing and updating such software may be necessary.
MeetJit, developed by Jitsi, offers browser-based meetings with all the basic functions: high definition video and audio, chat, screen-sharing, cloud recording, and the integration of a livestream on YouTube. It offers encrypted communication by default, and there is no need to log in or create an account (this feature might be preferred for privacy-related reasons). It also offers a mobile app for both Android and iOS.
Nextcloud is a communications platform which earned its reputation for safeguarding the confidentiality of data. It is also a collaborative software which allows users to run a personal cloud-based storage system.
Other platforms include ezTalks, Mconf, and Riot.
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