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RIADVICE CEO, Mr. Ghazi Triki, who is the digital transformation expert, leading the BigBlueButton e-learning revolution, talks about BigBlueButton as the first open source web conferencing platform that gives every student access to a high-quality online learning experience using only a web browser. Emma Okonji presents the excerpts:

Can you tell us about RIADVICE and their support in driving BigBlueButton’s e-learning initiative?

RIADVICE is one of the leading software outsourcing providers in Tunisia and a long term contributor to many open source projects. The global COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the massive adoption of online education and, in particular, how critical it is to foster engagement in learning through virtual classrooms. On the positive side, online access to education has brought world-class curricula from leading global institutions to anyone, anywhere. One of the leading companies in this field is BigBlueButton; fully open source virtual classroom software designed around the real needs of teachers, students and schools. BigBlueButton was created by a community of dedicated developers who are passionate about improving e-learning. BigBlueButton has gone big bang since its official launch in 2007.

At the heart of this digital transformation journey was RIADVICE, the business support provider. Thus, RIADVICE was founded in 2013 to support customers with a wide range of cutting-edge technology solutions and prides itself on the vast experience and skills that our software developers possess. RIADVICE has encountered many challenging projects over the past few years, and our team has succeeded in satisfying even the most demanding customers in the fields of telecom, education and scientific analysis, medical care, thus proving to be as a reliable and recognized offshore software development company. At RIADVICE, we know that we need a good understanding of your business organization to deliver high-performance, high-performance IT solutions that grow with your business needs. And we have demonstrated them with BigBlueButton as a commercial support provider.

How did it happen?
Yes, BigBlueButton started as a graduation project for a Filipino student who went to Canada to complete his studies. In fact, it originated from the Technology Innovation Management (TIM) program at Carleton University’s Institute of Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization in Ottawa, Canada, and was launched externally. in 2007. It ended up in an incubator program where their test kits were examined. to and how they might become profitable. So, it all started as the idea of ​​providing online courses for students. So Frederick Dixon, now a project manager for BigBlueButton, saw the need to start a virtual classroom by just pressing a single “big blue button” and the name is somehow stuck.

At that time, the first version of BigBlueButton was built with open source technologies and the team thought there was an opportunity to provide a virtual classroom that would be accessible to anyone in the world via open-source. And at the time, there were plenty of commercial web conferencing systems, but nothing really designed for the classroom. I think open source is of course. So we said okay, there will be a market. And if we were to focus on that market, from an entrepreneurial point of view, we would expect universities to move progressively more online, the Internet to get faster, computers to get faster and more powerful browsers, and there there would just be a slowly increasing demand for online services. Classes. So, from 2007 to 2014 and 2015, the team focused on integration with various learning management systems.

Tell us more about the features and the choice of open source?
In fact, to date there have been over a dozen releases of the core product, and each new release has seen new feature development, testing and documentation as well as improved community support. The goal is to constantly support teaching with improved, online tools that allow teachers to communicate with students in a synchronized, collaborative and fun way.

The Open Source model is about sharing knowledge and empowering the African continent. With open source, the more people will use it, the more they will see the need and global relevance, the product will be adopted worldwide and companies that provide support hosting services, the traditional open source business model would be able to sell it for that market. We haven’t done a lot of marketing rather focused on building a product that solves a teacher’s needs. So open source for us means being able to do things on the web with real-time, low-latency audio and video capabilities that enable teaching and learning.

With Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Zoom, Cisco Webex, etc., how is BigBlueButton a better virtual classroom?
The needs of a teacher are very different from those of a manager. So, these products existed long before the pandemic and very few of them focus on the efficient market. In other words, they were essentially business applications. It was a team-based application. A teacher attempts to guide students through a learning path. And we think about what the students have to do, we have to remember, recognize, apply, evaluate.

It is a very constructed constructivism which is the basis of “Moodle”; you have to interact with the students, which is the job of the teacher. There are things you can do in a virtual classroom that you probably couldn’t do with platforms like Zoom. You would need differentiation, integration, engagement and analysis. We were and remain passionate about ensuring users can access the platform on Mac, iPad, Android, iOS, Chromebook – keeping it simple.

What are the experiences during the peak of COVID-19, and how can indigenous technologies help Africa leapfrog?
COVID-19 has in fact demonstrated the need for Africa to scale up its efforts towards indigenous technologies. You solve a local problem with local solutions. This does not imply closing the door to multinationals from other continents. However, when you have developed an innovation locally, the challenges associated with adoption will be minimized. That’s why RIADVICE is proud of the work we’ve done with BigBlueButton, which saw a spike in adoption during the peak of COVID-19. Honestly, COVID-19 has revealed the lack of preparedness of African countries when it comes to infrastructure to deliver services in a pandemic of this nature. As schools were closed due to Covid-19, millions of African children in rural areas were left without the infrastructure to embrace eLearning like their counterparts in urban centers. This needs to be settled.

What is your opinion on Open Source software and why should African companies take this approach?
Although most people are far from realizing it, many of the technologies used today are based on open source software. Many of today’s phones, cars, and IoT devices use the open-source Linux kernel operating system along with over 60% of global websites that run on Apache and Nginx web servers. Kubernetes, an open source container orchestration system, has become the de facto standard for Linux container development. Additionally, most public cloud workloads today run on Linux. Open source is everywhere, which is why it’s no surprise that global IT leaders are now using enterprise open source for IT infrastructure modernization, application development and digital transformation. With Open Source, you share knowledge and help the economy grow. Overall, your business can accelerate success by taking the right step toward DevOps adoption. This is one of the valuable services offered by RIADVICE with BigBlueButton support included; and they are happy with it.

Who is Ghazi Triki
Ghazi Triki is the CEO of RIADVICE, a digital transformation company in Tunisia and a BigBlueButton business support provider serving several countries around the world. As a global software architecture consultant and developer, Ghazi and his team have won several global awards such as Mobilizing The 12th Man Award, the total of 43 global recognition awards are listed below:Cannes Lion 2013 – 5 Silver Lions & 2 Bronze Lions for Mobilizing The 12th ManEpica Awards 2013 – 1 Grand Prize, 1 Gold Award, 2 Silver Award Dubai Lynx 2014 – 2 Grand Prize, 6 Gold, 11 Silver, 17 Bronze for mobilizing the 12th ManLondon International Awards 2013 – 1 Silver & 2 BronzeOne Show 2014 – 1 Merit Pencil, 1 Gold Pencil & 2 Bronze PencilsCLIO Awards 2014 – 1 Gold Award, 1 Silver Award, 3 Bronze AwardsGhazi is also one of the major contributors to many open source developments, managing large agile teams for projects based on BigBlueButton and managing the development of enterprise business solutions for the telecommunications market, distance learning, carpooling, VOD, shipment tracking applications, GIS, food industry pricing, and digital have helped customers automate their infrastructure deployment script. In recognition of his immense contribution to open source and in particular to the development of BigBlueButton since 2013, he has been named a core committer since 2015 and ranked 4th in terms of overall contribution.

Over the years, he has driven the digital transformation of clients in all industries in the following countries: Canada, United Kingdom, Kuwait, Cyprus, France, United Arab Emirates, South Korea, Austria, United States, Australia, Turkey , Nigeria, Sweden, Denmark, Germany. , Belgium, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Poland to reach a total of 50 countries. Ghazi started as a Maven Flex Plugin contributor in the era of RIAs (Rich Internet Applications), in continuous integration (automation and orchestration).

He was also a global consultant in the creation of the BigBlueButton cluster for universities and schools in Rhineland-Palatinate, a federal state in Germany serving 250,000 participants per day during the COVID19 crisis and also hosted the largest platforms of online education from Kuwaiti universities, some of the primary schools in the United Arab Emirates are teaching online and have helped raise open source awareness in Saudi Arabia by running a non-profit online education platform based on BigBlueButton is now distributed to the largest non-profit organizations in the Arabian Peninsula. Ghazi grew the RIADVICE 10 baremetal server tech stack to around 70 in the first week of the spread of COVID19, the third week of March 2020. Then peaked with around 173 servers in March 2021.

As a former Adobe Flex (Apache Flex) developer with strong development experience, Ghazi combines development expertise for PHP and Java (rare developers who can combine the 2), Golang and Ruby. He is also a big fan of automation and orchestration, loves continuous integration tools like Jenkins and makes them allies in his journey.