Open source for distance learning thanks to the initiative

The (literally Istayathome) initiative was launched by  a team of developers from the Italian city of Fabriano with the aim to offer a free and open source solution to those who need to videoconference in these quarantine days caused by the coronavirus emergency.

GARR, Italy’s national research and education network is among the first organisations to enthusiastically join the initiative by making available its own server: Thanks to this act of digital solidarity, a larger number of people will be able to benefit from this platform.

The project is based on Jitsi Meet, an open source system that allows users to make video calls quickly and in an intuitive manner, simply by opening a link on a browser, with no need for specific apps or registrations, thanks to the potential of the WebRTC protocol.

“GARR already provides videoconferencing services that are available for the research and education community”, says Massimo Carboni, GARR CTO, “by joining this project we intend to expand the audience of users, focusing in particular on schools, that currently have fewer resources. In this way we can offer an easy-to-use solution with a normal domestic Internet connection”.

The initiative, which has just been launched, will also be an important test bench to understand the number of requests and consider to increase the resources available if necessary. In fact, the project is based on a collaborative approach where multiple organisations can participate by sharing their own servers. Among the members of GARR community, the Italian National Research Council (CNR) has already joined with the resources of the Institute of Methodologies for Environmental Analysis (IMAA).

With regards to the video conferencing services, GARR has been working and experimenting with new solutions since before the emergency, with the aim to enrich the proposals for its user community. The international collaboration with the European network Géant for the eduMEET project also fits in this direction. The eduMEET platform is a multi-videoconference system developed within the GÉANT project.

In order to support schools, the Up2U project, an international collaboration that sees GARR, Sapienza University of Rome, Géant and CERN among its partners, will make available the OpenUP2U platform, a complete suite based on Moodle and open to all. The project, conceived as a path to help schools in the use of digital, will make available to all education institutes for free collaborative platforms for creating documents, file sharing and e-learning.

Published: 05/2020

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