Clouds Education Magazine

GÉANT eduMEET service launched early to support communication needs during the COVID-19 lockdown

International R&E requires the collaboration of many researchers who work for different institutions and may also be spread geographically.
Video Conferencing (VC) is an essential support tool and although many commercial solutions exist, the problems of ease of use, cost, reliability and trustworthiness can be barriers to their use within the R&E community.

During the COVID-19 crisis and resultant lockdown measures, R&E needs a low-cost, open and transparent alternative VC solution that requires no special software to operate and can be operated and supported from within the community. As a result, the launch of
eduMEET was rapidly accelerated and the team have released an eduMEET Beta service.

What is eduMEET?

eduMEET is a WebRTC webconferencing platform, designed and developed within the GÉANT GN4-3 project. The WebRTC approach results in a set of services that can support the education community with:

  • WebRTC video conferencing service
  • distributed STUN/TURN infrastructure to overcome firewall and NAT obstacles
  • monitoring, statistics and testing modules to assess the performance of the service.

What makes eduMEET different?

The main aim of the eduMEET service is to provide an easy to use, secure, and affordable video conferencing service for the international R&E community as an alternative to commercial solutions. eduMEET simplifies real-time communication and introduces a
browser-based personal conferencing tool that runs without the need to install any additional clients or plugins. Only a
web-browser, microphone and simple web-camera are needed. eduMEET can support both computer and mobile devices, so long as the web-browser supports WebRTC making it highly flexible and easy to roll-out to staff and students.

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Case Study: Supporting distance learning with eduMEET in Ukraine

Universities around the world moved to distance learning in response to the COVID-19 lockdown, seeking reliable tools for online lectures, seminars and meetings. In Ukraine education is assisted by the national research and education network, URAN Association,
with the support of the EU-funded EaPConnect project. URAN staff rapidly set up eduMEET and has quickly become a popular tool attracting up to 120 users per day. Roman Yatsenko (pictured) was among the first to test eduMEET and was pleased with the result. As the Head of the e-Learning Tools Department at Simon Kuznets Kharkiv National University of Economics (KhNUE), he is responsible for the entire spectrum of electronic tools in the educational process, including distance learning technologies. Here Roman talks about his extensive KhNUE experience in organising distance education and the new eduMEET service.

What experience did you have with distance learning before the pandemic?

We have gained good experience. First, in our department, we constantly record videos of lectures for offline courses for students to study on their own. Second, for several years at our University, extramural learning courses have been taking place online only. We have not stopped the educational process, it continues; almost all the classes take place online using different platforms, including eduMEET.

How do you decide which platforms to use?

From day one there was full democracy, so that a teacher has the opportunity to choose a platform themself. For example, in the early days, I used Skype. Three popular platforms include Zoom, eduMEET, and Skype. Zoom offers many features for conducting webinars
and online classes; we chose it and eduMEET as the base tools.

Why did you choose eduMEET?

After I received a letter from the URAN association about this platform I tested it myself. I liked it because it’s easy to use and simple. There are five main features in eduMEET, including a chat function. There is video, there is a screen demonstration. In fact, this list of features is the list you need. Conveniently, it requires no additional software – because very often, especially in the first online classes, students complain: “I connected – I didn’t connect, I was able – I wasn’t, I installed – I didn’t install, I was on the phone, I was on the tablet…” And with eduMEET you don’t need anything, only a link. It even turned out the link is permanent, it works all the time. For
example, we have a room in eduMEET where the rectorate’s meetings take place.

What else do you use eduMEET for?

For classes and simple meetings. Personally, I use eduMEET for teaching and I recommend teachers to use it when the number of participants is 20-30. Also, I support and consult teachers using eduMEET: I have a link to the room, I give it to the teachers and immediately communicate with them, share my screen, show how to do something with a computer. That is all. Very fast. I prefer eduMEET over other services, for its simplicity. I am grateful to URAN for implementing this platform, its simplicity just wins me over.

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