Follow

Setting up Conferences

This article describes how a Populi account administrator can set up Conferences for Populi courses. After the setup process is complete, faculty can then use conferences to share live video, discussion, presentations, files, and more with your students in real-time. Populi integrates with two services, both of which require you have an account set up with them:

  • Zoom is a video-conferencing service that has gained a lot of traction in the world of online learning. Learn more at their education page.
  • BigBlueButton (BBB) is an open-source, web conferencing service designed for higher education. It requires that it be hosted in order to work with Populi. Jump down for a look at your setup options for BBB.
  • You can use one service or the other or even both.

Zoom setup

account_integrations_zoom

Populi works with paid versions of Zoom's Meetings product that include access to the Rest API feature. The minimum plan you can use is the Pro account. Make sure to include as many hosts as you require for your faculty to conduct meetings—if you have questions about how many hosts you need, look through the FAQs on Zoom's pricing page or contact their sales department. To set up this integration, you will first need to set up the appropriate account with Zoom.

  1. Follow the instructions provided in Zoom's Create a JWT App article. Please refer to those instructions as you follow the next steps (especially when you're copying Verification Tokens and API credentials from Zoom).
    • If you wish, you may enter Populi and support@populi.co in the Developer contact fields.
  2. Go to the Feature section in Zoom.
  3. Turn on Event Subscriptions with the toggle.
  4. There's a small arrow next to Event Subscriptions. Click that (here's a pic of what you're looking for).
  5. Click Add new event subscription.
  6. Enter a Subscription Name—something like Populi or Meeting Ended would work.
  7. Enter a Event notification endpoint URL. The URL would be your school's version of https://yourschool.populiweb.com/router/conferences/zoom/webhook
  8. Click Add events
  9. Check next to End Meeting, and then click Done.
  10. Click Save at the bottom of the Event Subscriptions panel.
  11. In Populi, go to Account > Account Settings > Integrations.
  12. Click Add Integration. In the dialog, choose Zoom from the list of built-in integrations.
  13. Copy the JWT API KEY and JWT API SECRET from the App Credentials section in Zoom and enter them in the Populi dialog.
  14. Likewise, copy the Webhook Verification Token from the Feature section in Zoom and enter it in the Populi dialog. This token should be about 20 characters long (there's a JWT token from the App Credentials section that's 100 characters long—don't use that!).
  15. Choose how you want to manage User Selection. When your faculty schedule a conference, how do you want Populi to set aside your school's Zoom Users/hosts?
    • Populi primary email match: Populi will match the faculty user's primary email address with the corresponding email address in Zoom. Use this if you have set up specific Zoom users for individual faculty members.
    • Choose from a list of licensed Zoom users: Populi will let the faculty choose from the licensed Zoom users associated with the Zoom account whose credentials (JWT Key, etc.) you entered in this dialog. These Zoom users are identified by email address. Enter the email addresses in the field and separate multiple addresses with commas. Use this if you want your faculty to share selected Zoom user accounts with one another.
    • Choose from all licensed Zoom users: Populi will let the faculty choose from any of the licensed Zoom users associated with the Zoom account whose credentials (JWT Key, etc.) you entered in this dialog. Use this if you want your faculty to have access to any of your school's Zoom user accounts.

Setting up BigBlueButton

BigBlueButton requires that it be hosted in order to work with Populi; your school will need to have a working BBB account before you can set up this integration. All things considered, you have two options:

  • Set up your own hosting situation. While this might be a lower out-of-pocket cost, it's also a lot of work.
  • Engage someone to host it for you. You probably have a few options, but Blindside Networks runs BBB and provides hosting and support services for a lot of schools and other organizations.

To set up BigBlueButton in Populi, your school's Populi Account Administrator will need to do the following:

  1. Go to Account > Account Settings > Integrations.
  2. Scroll down the page and enter the BigBlueButton API Endpoint and Shared Secret settings. You can get these from your BigBlueButton host.
  3. Scroll back to the top of the page and click Save Settings.

If you'd like to take BigBlueButton for a test drive, you can enter these credentials in the above-mentioned settings:

  • BigBlueButton API endpoint: https://populi-ft.api.rna1.blindsidenetworks.com/bigbluebutton/api/
  • BigBlueButton API shared secret: 410ddc7584b692761f6cb4d265cde284

A few notes:

  • Recordings made using the test account will expire after 7 days.
  • Certain features (like breakout rooms) are disabled.
  • The following welcome message will appear in the public chat for all BigBlueButton sessions: For help using BigBlueButton watch these short tutorial videos. This BigBlueButton session is provided free of charge by Blindside Networks Inc. to Populi customers. Recordings are automatically deleted after 7 days. For permanent recordings and other premium features, please contact Blindside Networks.

Read about how faculty can use conferences in their courses.

Was this article helpful?
5 out of 6 found this helpful
Have more questions? Submit a request

11 Comments

  • 1
    Avatar
    Elizabeth Reed

    Are there any plans to integrate Google Meet into the conference feature?

  • 1
    Avatar
    Danny Thursby

    How can you use a zoom room with conferences in Populi? I have already made the JWT App and successfully integrated with Populi.

  • 0
    Avatar
    Rick Reynolds

    Thx so much, Joel! Are you hosting with Blindside, or who? I contacted Blindside last Wed., but haven't heard back...I imagine they're totally slammed. I host a couple other projects on AWS, so I'm considering setting up a dedicated server as another option...seems pretty straightforward. 

  • 0
    Avatar
    Rick Reynolds

    Thanks, Populi and Joel. We are looking forward to trying this!

  • 0
    Avatar
    David Adams

    I was able to get the Zoom integration working just fine. Thanks for the guidance here.

    Big question: Whose Zoom session is it using when someone starts a conference? We have a number of professors and Zoom Room accounts, but what are we using when we start a Zoom session? Is it my Zoom account, since I developed the connection? Does it use the account of the professor who set the conference up (and how would it transfer those credentials)? If it just uses my account, how can you have multiple courses meeting at the same time?

  • 0
    Avatar
    Joel Wingo

    We've spent some time testing out the BBB web conferencing integration and it works very well. It will be well worth the investment. With online education continuing to grow, this opens up important ways to develop better relationships with online students. Thanks so much to Populi for making this possible.

  • 0
    Avatar
    Joel Wingo

    BBB is updating this contingency page to help administrators facing a transition to online courses:

    Scroll to the bottom of the page for a list of best practices and an overview training video:

    https://blindsidenetworks.com/covid-19-contingency-planning/

  • 0
    Avatar
    Rick Reynolds

    Sounds good, Joel--thanks so much and you, as well! Great to hear things have been working out well. 

    Edited by Rick Reynolds
  • 0
    Avatar
    Brendan O'Donnell

    David Adams: When the prof goes to add a conference, Populi looks to see if there's a Zoom user with the same email address as the faculty member's Primary email address from Populi. If there's a match, then the prof just adds the conference and proceeds. If there isn't a match, Populi tells Zoom something like "Hey, you, make this prof a user," Zoom promptly complies, and then emails the prof some kind of account invitation—which would go to the primary address shown in Populi.

    That's how it works if there's one Zoom account with multiple hosts (like the education package they offer). If there are multiple accounts (that is, each prof signed up separately or whatever).

     

  • 0
    Avatar
    Rick Reynolds

    Hats off to Team Populi! We have both BigBlueButton and Zoom conferences working for a college I am helping. Once you've setup the integration, "Conferences" appear as an option in courses in the left menu. Than you can easily "Add a Conference" and choose if you want to use BBB or Zoom. Note that with BBB lets you skip the email authentication step and recorded conferences appear as a button link to the right of concluded conferences, which is a nice feature. Zoom recordings must be downloaded to the instructors' computer before being added to the course. Populi support is superb if you have any trouble, or feel free to ask questions here--I'm happy to help, too. If you need more consulting or content-creation help you can also feel to contact me at rick@engagingeverystudent.com or 503-380-4140. Good luck and have fun with it, all! 

    Edited by Rick Reynolds
  • 0
    Avatar
    Joel Wingo

    We do have the Premium hosting from Blindside, since mid-2018. I imagine they are very busy right now. Best of luck to you, Rick!

Please sign in to leave a comment.