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Making Video Conferences more efficient – Tools for Online Meetings

May 4th, 2022 | by
Graphical representation of video conferences on different laptops

Source: Pixabay

For more than two years now, our (working) lives have been turned upside down and we have to face special challenges. Due to the pandemic, we are required to comply with distance rules, in addition to many other regulations. For many, this means switching to situational mobile home work or home offices. To still stay in touch with colleagues and keep meetings going, video conferencing tools are worth their weight in gold. Find out which tools for online meetings we use at the IT Center in this article.

Microsoft Teams

Probably the most well-known tool is Microsoft Teams (MS Teams). Through the license extension of MS Teams, this tool can be used for internal communication. MS Teams is offered by Microsoft and is a cloud-based collaboration software, which is supposed to improve the productivity in the team. The tool originates from America and is characterized by a capacity of max. 10,000 participants. However, not all videos are visible at the same time. Teams has a reporting function, so that participants can call attention to themselves when they speak. In addition, a Teams meeting can be recorded. It is also possible to create working groups on specific topics. The Microsoft application also makes it easy to integrate other applications from the manufacturer.

Zoom

Another video conferencing system is Zoom.  This is also cloud-based and also comes from the US, which is why it is criticized in terms of data protection. Zoom is currently mainly used in teaching. However, it is also used in house meetings or departmental meetings. With Zoom comes features like virtual hand raising and office integration. In addition, breakout sessions can be created where small groups can share ideas. In addition, a total of 10,000 viewers as well as 1,000 people can participate simultaneously. A large number of videos are visible here.

Jabber

The network renewal enables the IT Center to offer the Jabber client as the preferred video conferencing tool within the company. This is connected to the telephone system and is particularly easy to use. In addition, the Jabber client may boast good video quality as well as ease of use. There is also an app that can be downloaded to the smartphone. Thus, the Jabber client can also be used on the go, e.g. when changing locations.

DFNConf

While Jabber supports only RWTH-internal videoconferences, DFNConf allows to invite external participants as well. This service is a purely university-based German tool and is offered by the DFN-Verein. DFN also offers the possibility to invite “viewers” who only participate via chat. DFNConf offers the advantage that up to 23 participants can hold a video conference at the same time, but they need an account. The service has a chat function and can also record a meeting with the latest version. It is also possible for a large number of people to “stream” the video conference even without video.

In all the presented tools, screen sharing is a basic function.

Furthermore, our colleagues in the MATSE group use Big Blue Button to share. This is a web-based tool where a maximum of 100 people can participate. The tool can be used for team boards and a conference can be recorded. In addition, there is the possibility to upload a presentation to the tool. This can then be edited by the participants during the conference.

Jitsi is also a way to communicate with each other via video conferencing on an open source basis. Password-protected rooms can be created here. There is also a reporting function and the possibility to mute participants.

Responsible for the content of this article is Arlinda Ujkani.

3 responses to “Making Video Conferences more efficient – Tools for Online Meetings”

  1. Erich says:

    Wie ist im IT Center die Position zur Einrichtung eines RWTH-eigenen Jitsi-Servers? Andere Universitäten haben hier bereits vorgelegt. Anders als bei Teams und Zoom besteht bei Jitsi tatsächliche Kontrolle über sämtliche ausgetauschte Daten und es ist keine komplizierte Authentifizierung vonnöten, daher wäre es eine gute Alternative sowohl für vertrauliche Gespräche als auch für schnelle Ad-hoc-Meetings.

    • Ujkani, Arlinda says:

      Hallo Erich,

      vielen Dank für deinen Kommentar und dein Feedback.
      Gerne halten wir Rücksprache mit der Fachabteilung und melden uns dann wieder.

      Viele Grüße
      das IT Center Blog Team

    • Ujkani, Arlinda says:

      Hallo Erich,

      wir haben von der Fachabteilung die Rückmeldung erhalten, dass Jitsi testweise in den Betrieb genommen und durchaus für ein gutes Produkt befunden wurde. Aufgrund anderer Projekte und personeller Ressourcen wurde es jedoch nicht mehr weiterverfolgt. Für vertrauliche Gespräche ist die neue TK-Anlage der RWTH vorgesehen und geeignet.

      Viele Grüße
      das IT Center Blog Team

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