heiCONF: Access and Basic Functions

What is heiCONF?

heiCONF is a web conferencing system based on BigBlueButton that enables users to hold audio and video conferences. The service is hosted and operated by Heidelberg University, so all data remains in the university's server rooms.

You can find further information on heiCONF here.

The heiCONF variant heiCONF-Audimax ist optimised for lectures. The basic functions remain the same and can be found in this manual. Any differences between the two are noted in the text.

Note: Currently, this documentation is being extended and improved on a regular basis. In case your questions aren't addressed here, you have suggestions for improvement or you spot a mistake, please contact the IT service.


Login

Screenshot: heiCONF-Login

1. Go to the heiCONF website: https://heiconf.uni-heidelberg.de

2. On the heiCONF homepage, click on the "Sign in via Uni-ID" button in the top right corner.

Should you be unable to log in, please check in the service catalogue whether or not you have access to heiCONF. If you have access rights and still cannot log in, please contact the IT service.

Screenshot: heiCONF-Login

3. Now enter your Uni-ID and password into the upper and lower text box respectively. Confirm either by clicking enter or on the "Sign in via Uni-ID" button beneath the text boxes.


Rooms

heiCONF communication takes place in virtual conference rooms. For each user, the application creates a "Home Room" that is immediately ready for use and cannot be deleted. Upon logging in, you can create and configure more rooms.

Creating and configuring rooms

Screenshot: heiCONF-Raum erstellen

1. To create a new room, click the "Create a Room" block on your list of rooms. 

Screenshot: heiCONF-Raum konfigurieren

1. Now, you can name your room (via the text box "Enter a room name...") and configure different settings to customise the room:

  • Generate an optional room access code: Generates an access code that users must enter before they can join the room. An access code can be generated by clicking the dice icon on the left and removed by clicking the garbage icon on the right.
  • Generate an optional moderator access code: Generates an access code that, when entered, automatically makes the user a moderator and starts the conference. Useful for allowing external users to start and moderate the conference themselves.
  • Mute users when they join: All users are muted as soon as they join the room. Especially useful for larger conferences.
  • Require moderator approval before joining: When new users try to join, the moderator is prompted first to approve their entrance.
  • All users join as moderators: All participants are granted moderator privileges for the room.
  • Automatically join me into the room: As soon as the room is created, you are joined into the room.

Adding and removing room users

Screenshot: Zugriff verwalten

1. Having created a room, you can add users. To do so, click the ellipsis to the right of the room name in the Room List. In the dropdown menu, click on "Manage Access".

Screenshot: Nutzer hinzufügen

1. In the pop-up window that appears, click on the arrow icon next to "Select User". 

2. You can now search for users using the search bar. 

3. Click on a person's name to add them to the user list. This process can be repeated several times until all desired users have been added.

In order to remove a user, click on the red "x" icon next to their name.

4. Before closing the window, click on the "Save Changes" button to ensure the users are added or removed accordingly.

Inviting external participants

Screenshot: heiCONF-Externe

Over the internal heiCONF user search function, it is only possible to find people whose Uni-ID has heiCONF access. However, it is still possible to include external participants such as students in conferences:

1. In the Room List, click on the room into which you want to invite external participants.

2. Copy the link in the text box below "Invite Participants" (either manually or by clicking the "Copy" button).

3. Send the link to the people you wish to invite. These can join the room using the link as soon as the conference has started, without logging in.

Important note: Since anyone can access the conference via this link, it is advisable to set an access code or approve the entry of new users as a moderator (see Creating and configuring rooms).

 

Tip: Access codes can be integrated into the conference room link!

To make user access easier, it is possible to add the room access code to the link. Copy the link as described above and, in your browser, add the following parameter:  

?meeting_access_code=12345678  

Replace "12345678" with the room access code. 

Example: 

https://heiconf.uni-heidelberg.de/foo-bar-foo?meeting_access_code=987654 

The same can be done with the moderator access code.

Allowing external participants to start/moderate a conference

Screenshot: Zugangscodes zu heiCONF

External participants without an authorised Uni-ID can also be made conference moderators and start meetings themselves.

  1. For this, a user with an authorised Uni-ID must generate an optional moderator access code for the intended room (see "Creating and configuring rooms").
  2. Share the conference link and the generated moderator access code with the external participant. All basic participants will only receive the link and the room access code.
  3. Upon following the conference link, the external moderating participant can verify himself using the moderator access code.  
  4. Then, all he has to do is enter his name and click "Join". This starts the conference and the external participant can moderate.

Important note: Only those actually intended to start, moderate, and end the conference should receive the moderator access code. All other participants should only receive the regular room access code.

Conferences

Wenn der virtuelle Raum fertig eingerichtet ist und alle beteiligten Personen eingeladen und informiert sind, können Sie mit der Konferenz starten.

Starting/participating in conferences

Screenshot: Konferenz starten

1. In the Room List on the homepage, select the room in which the conference is to be held.

2. Click on the red button labeled "Start" (if you own the room) or "Join" (if you are participating).

Screenshot: Mikrofon oder zuhören

3. You will now be asked if you want to participate using your microphone or listen only. Important note: This setting can only be changed by re-entering the conference.

Important note: If you select "Microphone", your browser may ask for microphone access, which you should allow. If you accidentally denied heiCONF microphone access, re-enter the room and allow access.

The microphone and webcam permissions for websites and web applications can be edited in your browser settings.

Echo test

Screenshot: Echotest

4. If you chose to participate using your microphone, you will be connected to an echo test. This is necessary to ensure your microphone is functioning. 

Screenshot: Echotest 2

5. The test is active as soon as you are prompted to answer "Yes" or "No". You should be able to hear yourself during the test. If this is not the case, the wrong microphone may have been selected. To change the selection, click "No". If you do hear yourself, click "Yes".

Screenshot: Mikrofon - Echo-Test-Einstellungen

6. If you clicked "No", the microphone settings will appear. You can now select the microphone in the dropdown menu to the left or change the audio output device in the dropdown menu to the right. To reconnect with the echo test, click "Try Again". You should now hear yourself. If so, please click "Yes".

Ending a conference

Screenshot: Konferenz beenden

1. There is an ellipsis in the top right corner of the conference room. Clicking on it will reveal a dropdown menu in which you can end the meeting, among other things.

Moderating a conference

Screenshot: Konferenz moderieren

As a moderator, you have the ability to grant different permissions and control the course of the conference.

In heiCONF Audimax this is even more important, since only the moderator has access to the camera functionality. Participants are automatically muted to begin with. The moderator can grant them permissions individually.

1. To grant permissions, click on the name of the user on the list of users to the left. This opens a new dropdown menu.

2. In this dropdown menu, you can make the selected user a presenter or downgrade them to listener again. You can also mute users or remove them from the conference.

Screenshot: Teilnehmer

3. You can manage the user settings by clicking the gear icon at the top of the left menu in which all users are listed. You can mute all users, restrict users from specific features, or create so-called breakout rooms(smaller rooms adjacent to the main conference).

Enabling/disabling the microphone

Screenshot: Mikrofon aktivieren

1. In the main menu in the bottom centre of the conference view, you can turn your microphone on and off using the button to the left.

Important note: If you joined the conference as a listener only, activating the microphone is only possible after leaving and re-entering the conference room. Please select microphone participation after re-joining.

Enabling/disabling the webcam

Screenshot: Webcam aktivieren

1. In the menu in the bottom centre of the conference view, you can turn your webcam on or off using the second button from the right.

Important note: If you enable your webcam, your browser may ask for webcam access, which you should allow. If you accidentally denied heiCONF webcam access, re-enter the room and allow access.

The microphone and webcam permissions for websites and web applications can be edited in your browser settings.

 

Chat

Screenshot: Chat

1. Every conference includes a public chat, located to the right of the user list. If the chat is not visible, click on "Public Chat" at the top of the user list to the left. Should the user list be hidden, you can reveal it by clicking the person icon in the top left corner. 

The chat is especially helpful for remotely assisting with audio problems or for users who cannot use their microphones at the time. It also allows you to share links quickly.

Screen sharing

Screenshot: Bildschirm teilen

1. In the main menu at the bottom centre of the conference view, you can share your screen using the button on the right.

Screenshot: Bildschirm teilen 2

2. It opens a menu in which you can select which content is to be transmitted. You can transmit the entire screen, individual windows or even individual browser tabs.

Screenshot: Bildschirm teilen 3

3. If you want to stop sharing your screen, you can do so by clicking the "Stop sharing" button in the pop-up notification, or, if it doesn't appear, via the initial screen-sharing button on the right in the menu at the bottom of the screen. 

Sharing a presentation

Screenshot: Präsentation teilen

1. Click on the plus button in the bottom left corner of the conference view. There, select "Upload a presentation".

2. In the pop-up window that appears, you can drag and drop the presentation to upload it or click on "or browse for files".

3. By clicking the "Upload" button in the top right-hand corner, you can upload your presentation to the conference. This may take a moment. After uploading, the presentation will open immediately and you can begin presenting.

Please note for presentations with animations: heiCONF converts PowerPoint presentations into PDF files during upload. Existing animations (e.g. for fading in content or for slide transitions) will be removed. All slide content will be immediately visible. If you need animations, we recommended using screen sharing instead, showing your slides in the presentation software.

Displaying/hiding a presentation

Screenshot: Präsentation ausblenden

1. You can hide the presentation from your own view by clicking the blue button with the minus sign in the top right of the presentation view. This can be helpful when you don't need to see the presentation and want to focus better on the other participant's video feeds.

2. If you have hidden the presentation, you can reveal it again by clicking the blue button "Restore Presentation" in the bottom right.

Using the whiteboard

Screenshot: Whiteboard

You can choose between different tools to add text to a presentation, draw circles, or mark it up with a pen. You can also change the colour and thickness of lines and text. To do so, select the desired tool/thickness/colour in the menu on the right side of the presentation.

Settings

Screenshot: Einstellungen

1. You can find the option "Settings" by clicking the ellipsis in the top right corner of the conference view. There, you can find your individual user settings for heiCONF.

Screenshot: Einstellungen Anwendung

2. Under the menu item "Application", you can change the setting for font size and enable pop-up and audio alerts.

Screenshot: Einstellungen Datenvolumeneinsparung

3. Under the menu item "Data savings" you can disable your webcam or desktop sharing in general to save your bandwidth.

Using heiCONF in Moodle

Bild: Moodle-Logo

1. To use a heiCONF conference room in Moodle, you can copy the room link via the heiCONF backend and publish it in the Moodle course. It is advisable to set up the room with an access code (see the section "Creating and configuring rooms").

2. To make it easier for Moodle course participants to join a conference with an access code, you can add the code to the link. Your participants will no longer have to enter the code separately and can simply click on the link to join. This is described in the section "Inviting external participants".