alfaview® Free Plus

40 alfaview® classrooms free of charge for the entire 2022/2023 school year.
For elementary, secondary, comprehensive and high schools.

All features included in alfaview® Free Plus.
Dear teachers and principals,

during the height of the pandemic in 2020, SaaS provider alfaview made its video conferencing system available to all schools in Germany and around the world free of charge. The response was great: nearly 20,000 schools made use of the offer at the time.

alfaview would now like to repeat this promotion and make 40 alfaview classrooms available to all elementary school, secondary schools, comprehensive schools and high schools free of charge for the entire 2022/2023 school year.

Self-hosted BigBlueButton server are not stable
Currently, many schools in Germany have to use video conferencing systems provided by the state, even if they cannot conduct stable classes due to the technology used. It is unclear why, despite the experience with BigBlueButton (BBB), some states still rely on unstable open-source applications that have to be set up and managed cost-intensively by system houses and IT consulting firms.

BigBlueButton, Jitsi Meet and other solely browser-based solutions often lack the required performance and stability due to the technology used and are not comparable to a highly available, stable and lip-synchronous software like alfaview. With alfaview, pupils, students and teachers can participate in class with live videos via a desktop application, app or browser, even with a weak internet connection or a low-end device.

During the pandemic, consulting and IT firms in Germany rushed to set up servers to provide BigBlueButton, Jitsi, and Cisco Webex instances, for example. Instead of relying on highly available platforms, each state has single-handedly begun to build decentralized, individual systems. Open source software (OSS) such as BigBlueButton requires expensive and labor-intensive setup and operation, and is thus in no way cost-free. In addition, the continuous development of the application is not automatically guaranteed. A highly professionalized SaaS service such as alfaview only costs a fraction – it is therefore highly questionable on which consulting basis states rely on OSS products implemented by system houses. IT and consulting houses make profit from selling and operating open source products. It is often not in the best interest of system houses to recommend high-performance, high-availability video conferencing systems such as alfaview, which cost only a fraction of the BigBlueButton instances they set up. Tax funds would be better used to provide students with devices and better internet.

The Rhineland-Palatinate State Pedagogical Institute has published official Guidelines for distance learning with digital systems , which can be found on the web pages of the Rhineland-Palatinate Ministry of Education. Here it says about the use of BigBlueButton: "Video images put the most load on the video conferencing system [...] If possible, refrain from video transmission by the students or use it only temporarily, e.g. at the beginning of the video conference. Use the "Only presenters see webcams" feature in BigBlueButton. [...] If you want to check the attendance or attentiveness of the students, build prompts into your videoconference, e.g. set the status to "happy".

Recommendations of this kind make it clear that systems such as BigBlueButton cannot implement real video-based teaching. Facial expressions and gestures are particularly important for learning and relevant for the successful implementation of digital teaching. The "happy status" of a learner cannot compensate for the lack of interaction through facial expressions and gestures.

The principal of the Carl-Friedrich-Gauß-Gymnasium Hockenheim commented on the use of video conferencing systems in schools in the Mannheimer Morgen newspaper when the pandemic began: she confirmed that alfaview runs more stably than the BigBlueButton system provided by the state, is easy for students to use, and fully complies with data protection guidelines.

We urge the German Ministries of Education to critically question the recommendations made by system houses. Currently, the ministries rely on companies that have a commercial interest in earning money by setting up products that are supposedly free of charge.

In order to ensure that this does not have a negative impact on schools, we are repeating the promotion from the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 and providing all elementary school, secondary schools, comprehensive schools and high schools with 40 alfaview classrooms each, free of charge, for the entire 2022/2023 school year.

Video conferencing systems by US providers are no alternative.

alfaview has no sponsors or investors. It is financed solely by its users. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all schools, universities, other educational institutions, small and large companies, public institutions, cities and municipalities that make this free promotion for schools possible by booking alfaview for a fee (References).

Legal situation/violation of data protection laws
In Germany, personal data is protected by laws such as the German Federal Data Protection Act (BDSG) or the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Data from companies or public institutions also enjoy special protection in Germany, for example under the Unfair Competition Act (UWG) or the Trade Secrets Protection Act (GeschGehG). However, not all countries have comparable legal standards – the important thing to know here is: if IT systems are used in Germany or the European Union by institutions or companies from so-called third countries (e.g., the USA), they must comply with European legal requirements.

The key issue here is that a "data subject/entity" is entitled to information about the whereabouts of the data and must also have the opportunity to take legal action. The GDPR ensures this within the European Union.

However, the situation is quite different when companies or public institutions use systems that are not from the EU and that transfer data to countries that the European Union has not concluded mutual legal assistance agreements or other treaties with in order to ensure European data protection standards.

With the CLOUD Act, a law was adopted under Trump in the USA that forces US companies to disclose any data from companies, institutions and their users to intelligence agencies – even if the subsidiary is located in Germany. In almost all cases, access to the data happens under secrecy to the data subject/entity. This eliminates any possibility of legal remedy against such access. There is no mutual legal assistance agreement between the EU and the USA under the CLOUD Act. The CLOUD Act does not only affect personal data, though: Trade secrets or other sensitive data of companies and public institutions are also not protected during a transfer to a third country and can be accessed by US intelligence services and even transferred through the USA to other third countries.

With the CJEU ruling (Schrems II), a transfer of personal data to the US was officially declared unlawful. As a result, the use of US platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Cisco Webex is no longer legally permissible in Germany. Companies, public institutions, government agencies, schools and universities may therefore only use systems whose provider is located in the EU and ensures that US authorities cannot access the data.

This also applies if the respective servers are located in Europe. If the parent company is located in Silicon Valley, for example, the CLOUD Act automatically applies, and the company is obligated to disclose the data under US law upon request by a US authority, even if the server is located in Germany. Nevertheless, many companies and also public institutions still use products from US providers and thus generally violate data protection laws. If schools or public institutions use US systems, then no legitimate data transfer can take place, even with consent of the data subject. In most cases, users have no real choice and are forced to use the provided system. This is particularly critical when schools use US systems, as the users are often underage, school-age pupils or students who would otherwise not be able to continue attending classes. Voluntary consent, as a prerequisite for legally effective consent, would not be given in this case.

We therefore appeal with the utmost urgency to demand the consistent implementation of legal standards such as the GDPR and to critically question the recommendations of system houses. At the moment, companies, institutions and schools are relying exclusively on consulting firms with commercial interests of their own. Once again, the teachers and students are the ones who have to suffer the consequences, as their lessons cannot be taught successfully without reliable and stable systems – even though there is a high-performance provider from Germany.

alfaview Video Conferencing Systems is 100 % compliant with the GDPR and would therefore like to provide 40 classrooms free of charge to all schools to facilitate professional teaching via video conferencing technology.

alfaview Video Conferencing Systems – 100 % compliant with the GDPR
alfaview is a German video conferencing provider that guarantees compliance with German and EU legislation. alfaview operates according to defined quality standards (e.g. current recommendations of the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI)) and is certified under ISO 27001. Only data centers certified ISO 27001, which are located and have their headquarters in Germany are used to provide the services. The video and audio streams as well as the server hard drives are encrypted according to current standards (TLS/AES 256) and in compliance with the latest BSI guidelines. alfaview runs stably and without latencies on all common platforms (Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, iPadOS and Android), regardless of the number of participants, and can thus be used for stable digital teaching with standard Internet bandwidth on PCs, tablets or smartphones with a wide range of class sizes. The reliability of alfaview has been 99.9% since 2016. The management of alfaview is certified under ISO 9001:2015.

In its review of various video conferencing providers, Berlin’s Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information singles out alfaview® as one of the few providers earning the maximum number of four green traffic lights. The State Commissioner of Baden-Württemberg for Data Protection and Freedom of Information also lists alfaview® as one of the few data protection-compliant video conferencing providers in its guide.

alfaview is not a product of the pandemic
alfaview was developed in 2010 by the Karlsruhe based education company alfatraining Bildungszentrum GmbH (www.alfatraining.de) for the education sector and now offers a wide range of features specifically aimed at the education sector and communication in institutions. In 2016, alfatraining made the video conferencing software available to the open market at the request of SAP's training department and other companies that wanted to implement their own digital training courses.

Download 40 alfaview classrooms
You can register for the alfaview Free Plus offer for schools at www.alfaview.com Afterwards you can download and install the software and invite as many students as you want to your classrooms. The alfaview classrooms can also be accessed via a browser. We will gladly advise you on how to set up and use alfaview. Your account does not need to be cancelled after the end of the school year 2023, but will expire automatically. This is a free and non-binding offer from alfaview for schools.

We also offer all teachers affordable train-the-teacher seminars with alfaview via our digital education platform www.alfatraining.com.

Enjoy teaching and communicating with alfaview. Further information about the features as well as tutorials can be found at www.alfaview.com.

Best wishes and see you soon in alfaview®
Niko Fostiropoulos
CEO and founder of alfaview