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maria_wilbar1
New Member

CONFERENCES: Students can't see each other

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CONFERENCES: STUDENTS CAN'T SEE EACH OTHER

Greetings everyone - I am having an issue when meeting with my students in Conferences: They can't see each other. They can see me and I can see them clearly, but as I said before, they can't see each other. Is anyone having the same issue? Any help with this issue will be highly appreciated!

2 Solutions
emily_allen
Community Team
Community Team

Hi again,  @maria_wilbar1 ‌. I've done some more digging and it looks like the Conferences provider (BigBlueButton) has restricted the ability for students to see each other's webcams. The reasoning is that it significanly reduces the load, which could lead to disconnections or disruptions. I know it's not ideal, but I hope this information helps provide some clarity. Please let us know if there's anything else we can help you with!

Thanks!

Emily

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Emily, thank you so much for your reply and forgive my late post. Your response was very helpful. I am disappointed with the decision from the BigBlueButton of restricting the use of the webcam so that all users could see each other. Seeing each other is essential for creating a sense of classroom community.

After reading your reply, I decided to use Zoom. I must say that I am delighted with the results. It is by far a much more robust video conferencing tool than the one offered by the BigBlueButton. I would love it if Canvas would consider teaming up with Zoom so that the access to Zoom is automatic under the conferences tab. 

Warm regards!

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19 Replies
emily_allen
Community Team
Community Team

Great question,  @maria_wilbar1 ! I can't think of a reason why that would be happening off the top of my head. How large is your course? I'm wondering if there might be a limit to how many webcam feeds are able to display. And are you sharing your desktop during the conference?

Thanks,

Emily

emily_allen
Community Team
Community Team

Hi again,  @maria_wilbar1 ‌. I've done some more digging and it looks like the Conferences provider (BigBlueButton) has restricted the ability for students to see each other's webcams. The reasoning is that it significanly reduces the load, which could lead to disconnections or disruptions. I know it's not ideal, but I hope this information helps provide some clarity. Please let us know if there's anything else we can help you with!

Thanks!

Emily

Thank you for this; I was just encountering the same thing. The "Lock Viewers" setting to allow them to share a webcam should be more specific, as in, "share a webcam with the teacher(s)." I am disappointed in this; how can you have a meeting and not see each other?

Do you think if I had a small group of people who were all teachers/moderators, they would be able to see each other's webcams? I'd like to be able to set up a situation where faculty members could interact with each other, including seeing each other on the screen.

0 Kudos

Hi nlatimer‌, a small group of moderators should still be able to see each other. It sounds like this is currently planned to be a temporary change to the free tier of the service and should only be affecting larger groups. I hope this helps!

Thanks,

Emily

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Thanks so much,  @era14 ‌, for the quick reply. This does help! I am in a high school and most of the teachers don't want the kids to see each other's webcams anyway. But we are going to be closed for awhile, and I think it would be nice if they could see each other, even if for only a short portion of the conference.

Emily, thank you so much for your reply and forgive my late post. Your response was very helpful. I am disappointed with the decision from the BigBlueButton of restricting the use of the webcam so that all users could see each other. Seeing each other is essential for creating a sense of classroom community.

After reading your reply, I decided to use Zoom. I must say that I am delighted with the results. It is by far a much more robust video conferencing tool than the one offered by the BigBlueButton. I would love it if Canvas would consider teaming up with Zoom so that the access to Zoom is automatic under the conferences tab. 

Warm regards!

We opened up Google Hangouts instead. Our quote for Zoom last fall was out of this world and while the product is the best on the market, I also hate that teachers and students are trying to learn so many different platforms for conferencing.....Zoom.....Hangouts......BigBlue Button. Everyone is getting so overwhelmed.

0 Kudos
loren_barnhurst
New Member

This is a flaw IMO.  I'm trying to keep 'community' in my courses which were just forced online.  Community involves seeing their classmates, not just me.  I understand 'bandwidth' issues, but at least let us try 'low quality' sharing.  This is going to force me to go outside Canvas if a fix isn't provided.

I already have people disappointed in this feature. It's hard when we're trying to convince them to stay in Canvas and not head out to Google Classroom!!

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rislis
Community Champion

Has anyone looked at the paid version of Big Blue Button recently? I'm curious about cost. 

Adding all as moderators does fix the problem, but for students, I'm with  @loren_barnhurst ‌. An idea I shared with my High School teachers was to use meet.google.com and share the link as an announcement that is posted at the top of the course via the optional setting of "Show most recent announcement." However, that is not an option for my middle school students, who can't use Meet due to COPPA rules.‌  @canvas_admin ‌ 

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nlatimer
Community Champion

I got this information from the K12 Team. To me, especially in K12, the price is exorbitant. We are using Zoom (the free version) and Google Meet with no problems. We can also record our sessions and keep the recordings, which we can't do with the free version of BigBlueButton.

"There are two levels of BigBlueButton; the Free Tier and the Premium Tier.  In the Premium Tier, recordings are permanent and include additional features such as breakout rooms and meeting statisticsThe pricing of the Premium Tier is based on capacity of concurrent conferences and is $200/concurrent session/month for a 1 year contract minimum.  Concurrent sessions are calculated as any conferences that are happening in your instance at the same tmThe usage is invoiced monthly so if you were to purchase one concurrent session for the year, but needed to use more than one session for a given month, you would simply be billed for that increased usage for that particular month.  
 
The graph below outlines the differences between the Free and Premium Tier."
 
jsavage2
Community Contributor

Is it definitely the case that if we get the paid service students can see each other? I don't see it listed on the list of paid features, either.

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rislis
Community Champion

I'm not sure, honestly. My director told me to quit looking at it - we just don't have the budget funds to upgrade.

However.....if you make students moderators on the left, then they CAN see each other - as long as their webcams are allowed.

Worked pretty slick with an AP Language Arts class yesterday. Happy to hear  @ccarpenter5 ‌'s news about breakout rooms, too, but I'm not sure I want to throw one more thing at my teachers.

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nlatimer
Community Champion

I sent an email to Canvas K12 Support yesterday to clarify. This is what they told me.

Students CAN see each other in Breakout Rooms in both the free and paid versions.
Students can NOT see each other in the main room in both the free and paid versions.

rislis
Community Champion

Must explore. Thank you!

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ccarpenter5
New Member

I’ve found that students can see each other when they are in Breakout Rooms.

williams_r
New Member

This thread has been extremely helpful! I knew about the amount of concurrent conferences was limited, but had no idea the viewing of user webcams was too. Had an instructor ask me about why their students couldn't see each other, messed with it myself a bit and couldn't figure out what was going on, and this thread was able to help me answer their question and give them a type of workaround.

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caleb_evans
New Member

One way to let students see each other is to share the teacher's conference screen. If I adjust the "Screen Share" window on my conference screen to its smallest point, and disable the chat and close that pane. Doing this I have been able to show 15 of the kids at one time. There is a big of a lag that gets a little worse the more cams you have going. I tell the students to click "Make screen share full screen" (4 arrows). Otherwise, the window is pretty small on their end.

We did find out though, in the recordings, the students' webcams that are enabled are visible.

MsTia
Community Participant

How were you able to share the teacher's Conference screen without getting infinity mirrors? Your workaround sounds intriguing for my small classes, but if I share my window with the presentation and chat box, we go down in flames with images like this:

Infinity Mirror_ a picture of a picture of a picture, with endless involution