Nextcloud and BigBlueButton in action

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Nextcloud Login Screen

The Scouts in Thuringia want to go digital. But what does that actually mean?
Setting:

  • Six local groups throughout Thuringia
  • 16 group lessons per week
  • 60 group leaders with access rights

Want to work on files together, maintain a calendar and hold video conferences. Per group session via video conference with up to 20 children and youths. Of course, the whole thing should be completely data protection compliant and must hardly cost any money.
The solution:

Nextcloud with integrated BigBlueButton instance

Nextcloud is a wonderful open source project that started as a simple cloud and has since become a real collaboration platform. It offers a very powerful file management, calendar, mails, contacts and access management and much more right out of the box.

Nextcloud Hub

Hosting

Installing Nextcloud on your own server is very simple. I booked a web hosting with webgo for this. With the voucher code “pfadfinder” you can book web space and three domains at webgo from €5.95 per month. With the voucher code you save 10 € and I also get this credited.

Nextcloud installation

To install Nextcloud, I used the web installer from the official Nextcloud site. It also explains in simple steps how to proceed with the installation. All you really need is a database and web space. I use my own subdomain for the cloud.

BigBlueButton

BigBlueButton is one of the few open source video conferencing solutions. You could also install this on your own server, but the resource requirements are quite high. But there are several providers who offer it at reasonable prices. For the Scouts, we chose bbbserver, which also hosts the platform in Germany.

Add BigBlueButton to Nextcloud

For Nextcloud, there is a ready-made app for integrating Big Blue Button. After activating the app, you can enter the API key to the BigBlueButton server under “Additional settings”. Here you can also directly define who is allowed to access BigBlueButton within Nextcloud.

API Key für BigBlueButton eingeben innerhalb der Nextcloud

We did it

BigBlueButton is already available in the Nextcloud and anyone with the right can create a new video conference room or start an existing conference.


Learnings

Anyone who is a logged-in user within Nextcloud and receives a public link to join a video conference in BigBlueButton should also have permission within the cloud to do so. Otherwise, the person will not be able to join the conference.

The Nextcloud calendar app does not like German umlauts. It is possible to create calendars with umlauts and share them with user groups with umlauts, but it cannot be saved. So I just do without umlauts and special characters in the names of user groups and calendars.

The whiteboards within BigBlueButton are great for drawing together with all participants.

You can add many more useful apps, such as two-factor authentication

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