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Cindy_Masek
Community Contributor

What conference tool(s) are you successfully using in Canvas other than BigBlueButton?

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We are looking at using at least one other conferencing tool than BigBlueButton (BBB) and are wondering what other's experiences with various tools has been.  We love the subscription service that BBB has provided as a contracted provider, and it works great so long as you are outside the college and the medical center, but due to firewall issues (we are inside a medical center firewall) we aren't able to resolve access issues. 

There are so many products out there but what works reliably and (ideally) works within Canvas?

We've identified that really there are more than one kind of conferencing need. One product might cover several types of need.  But whenever possible if we can find free, low cost or individual subscriptions that is best.  I've put in (  ) what I tools we are considering so far.

  • A tool that allows quick access the student's computer to help them with an issue. No audio or video needed - they are usually on the phone. (join Me?) (Something that could be a link on the College website for students to access quickly when needed?)
  • A tool that works well for student services to see and talk to the student - no recording, no doc sharing (Skype? How confidential is this?)
  • A tool for faculty or tutors to present, discuss, desktop share and document share with students at a single or multiple locations (individuals and small groups) (WebEx)
  • A tool for small groups to collaborate: present, discuss, document share and share desk top with other small groups.?  (WebEx)
  • A service or tool for capturing a live or recorded classroom with live distance student participation possible. (Probably a fixed room with special AV - but if anyone has mobile suggestions that would be great!

Has anyone else found a product that seems to rarely have firewall issues?  I'd be especially glad to hear from others inside HIPAA level firewalls, such as other Health Sciences Colleges!  We've have experimented with WebEx and that seems to be good.

Have any of used Spark?

I don't have a lot of faculty doing any of these, maybe 5 or 6 at each level so individual licenses seem best.

Does any one else do a mix of methods like this?  If so what works for you?

Thank you for your input!

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1 Solution
scottdennis
Community Team
Community Team

As far as I know BB Collaborate and Adobe Connect are the two most common.  We used to use Webex for training but have replaced it now with Connect.  In a former life I supported a technology suite including Connect.  Our users, for the most part, loved it.

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41 Replies
James_Kocher_UF
Community Champion

We have used Adobe Connect as a conference, collaboration, troubleshooting software.  It was with our College of Pharmacy, so we were working inside of the health science center.  I think there is also a canvas integration for it.  Not sure on pricing. I think it depends on the number of "seats" you need per room.

Good to know James.  These HIPAA level firewalls are a challenge. I had wondered if Adobe Connect was common enough to be recognized.  Thanks.

Do you have a VPN set up?  When we first started playing with BBB as a stand alone product, it wasn't available outside the health science center, but students could VPN in and be fine.

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@James Kocher I brought up this idea with our IT folks and they would like to know more about using a VPN setup for a conference tool.  Would you have time or be willing to visit with someone at some point in time?  Please reply to my email: cindy.masek@bryanhealth.org  Thank You! (I didn't see a way to reply privately. If someone knows how to do that - for future reference, let me know! Thanks!)

Hi Cindy,

If you are following James and he is following you, you can send direct messages from your inbox.

Cindy_Masek
Community Contributor

thanks!!

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 @Cindy_Masek ​

Unfortunately, I'm not a network guy, so I don't know HOW it was behind the VPN, only that it was!  Sorry!

James

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parde
New Member

We're having issues with BBB reliably working, and we've implemented WebEx as a stop gap at the moment. We too are looking into other solutions.

Cindy_Masek
Community Contributor

Well if I find out anything else useful I'll post it.  Hopefully as this area gets more traffic, maybe we will get more input!

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John_Lowe
Community Champion

Far from an inexpensive option, we use Blackboard Collaborate.  The LTI integration is nice because it shows up as a hidden course menu option.  Those faculty who were used to using it in our Blackboard Learn days are familiar with the scheduling concept and the interface of the tool itself.  Also, unlike BBB, it allows hosts of sessions to publish guest URLs and can even invite people to join the session from within the session while it is occurring.  You don't have to give people access to the entire course in Canvas in order to join a Collaborate session.  For this reason, those departments that have frequent remote guest speakers love this option.

We have been using Zoom (Video Conferencing, Web Conferencing, Online Meetings, Screen Sharing - Zoom ) for almost a year now. We've had a few issues here and there but overall it hasn't been too bad. The only downside was the LTI setup, we have opted out of it and our faculty is pasting the links to their meeting rooms directly into courses instead which worked fine for us. Their pricing is unbeatable compared to any other products we looked at.

That is one I haven't heard of!  Thanks Katerina.  Do you have any experience with how it functions with tight security firewalls such as within Medical Centers?  I'm finding that if it is a common enough tool firewalls will allow it, but if it isn't common or uses a different kind of connection it is problematic.

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Hi Cindy,

I wasn’t exactly sure about firewalls so I asked our Zoom rep. Here is what she wrote back to me. Obviously, she is promoting their product but here is the answer I got if you would like to read it.

In a nutshell, when Zoom was in the very beginning stages of development, Eric (our CEO) told his engineers to study the Internet and basic Internet protocols. As the VP of Engineering from WebEx (and also hand-picking his "dream team" of engineers to work alongside with at Zoom), he knew many of the firewall issue users experienced. Basically, he knew what not to do wrong, and what to do right. Because of this, Zoom created a completely different (and proprietary) way of connecting into a live cloud/online meeting. Zoom users the same protocol that the Internet using to first connect. If an individual has access to the Internet (via any browser), they can connect to Zoom. Once in a session, then the users are completely secure/private and running through our architecture and Zoom's native servers. Because Zoom developed this different way of joining a session, it has alleviated 99.99999% of the issues other users experience joining an online/cloud based meeting.

Probably way too much information, but the story tells how we think differently and are different in all that we do. To answer the question: no, you should not experience an issue with a firewall block with Zoom. We currently have hundreds of local and state agencies, the US Gov't., the federal government, hospitals and 2,500+ education institutions as customers today - and none have ever experienced an issue.

Katerina Newton

System Administrator III

This is very helpful.  Thank you for the information!

thebert
Community Contributor

We have loved Zoom's LTI integration.

I have created personal meeting rooms in Canvas. Everyone goes to the Canvas course/"meeting room." Only the host logs in through the Canvas login: instant meeting. No complicated scheduling. Add whole departments to the course for departmental meetings.

Cindy_Masek
Community Contributor

We have opted for purchasing 20 individual rooms.  Faculty place the link to the room when needed in Canvas.  So far this seems to be working very, very well.  Having had all manner of difficulties with firewalls with other products, this has required no exceptions to be made to the firewall so far and it has worked 100% every time.  Of course we have only had a handful of sessions so far - but that is still better than in the past.

hallmans
Community Contributor

We also do this- we have about 60 Connect rooms and they are used for everything from small group breakout sessions to 100 people webinars. We set up the initial generic accounts/rooms and the instructors or students just post the URL of the meeting in announcements or as part of an assignment.

It's been working well for us.

thebert
Community Contributor

Allow me to update you.

Last week I was informed that we would let our Zoom license expire this January.

This week I was appointed the WebEx administrator for our Canvas community.

My task now involves moving happy Zoom users to WebEx and dismantling a working integration between Zoom and Canvas in favor of a tool that integrates with Canvas through individual URLs--at best.

I intend to focus our Canvas community on the Personal Meeting Room feature of WebEx; this feature appears Zoom-like. It should reduce the learning curve and their frustration.

Glory to the newborn King!

millerjm
Community Champion

Hey terry,

we have had a really good faculty rollout for webex.  They really like it and have been pretty low maintenance.  I have had to do very little training. 

We came from eliminate, then had bbb, and went to webex.  Webex has met all of the needs On campus, not just teaching. The only complaint is the lack of integration.  I am learning all I can about the canvas and webex api to hopefully develop something, even if it is initially just authentication. 

Let me me know how it goes!!!

joni

scottdennis
Community Team
Community Team

As far as I know BB Collaborate and Adobe Connect are the two most common.  We used to use Webex for training but have replaced it now with Connect.  In a former life I supported a technology suite including Connect.  Our users, for the most part, loved it.

Marking your own answers correct now?  Hmm.... sounds a little fishy to me.  :smileylaugh:

Well...  I really thought Connect and Collaborate are the two biggies but I couldn't find those two listed in one response so I kind of had to take matters into my own hands.  I did it for the people, John!

pkreemer
Community Participant

Often, Scott, we see these abusive actions taken "for the people". Just try to deal with the power, okay?

 @pkreemer ​, I did it for the people...  I'm all about the people - but you knew that already...

Cindy_Masek
Community Contributor

 @scottdennis  I'm curious, were there problems with WebEx or just additional features in Connect?  Thanks!

The biggest problem we had with Webex was the amount of storage they would give us.  It was far from adequate and what they wanted to charge to give us more (once we could finally get a quote which took months of calling and emailiing) was ridiculous.  I don't use Connect much at all but I know that the people who chose it for us are much happier with the included tools and functions.

millerjm
Community Champion

Hi  @Cindy_Masek ​,

We did a lot of research in the marketplace in spring 2014 - but really focused on gotomeeting and webex.

We decided on WebEx for many reasons - mostly feature and usability related.  It worked for how our faculty teach and will work for all use cases at our college, such as training.

Until July 15, Cisco has an amazing education deal for Webex that was for 3 years.  It was almost the same price as we paid for our first year but was for three years.  It was based on the number of "full time knowledge workers" at our college - and includes all of our faculty and staff, including adjuncts, as hosts.  It also gives all of our students 8 person meeting rooms.  We did not go with the call-in phone number, only voip, to avoid unplanned expenses.  We have had only a few people complain about not going with that option.

It doesn't currently have a native LTI integration with Canvas.  There is a third party company, circulive, who will set up LTI for customers, but it honestly wasn't worth the annual fees.

We were on Elluminate (now BB collaborate) and then went to BBB pre-canvas.  Our faculty did not find that BBB was a usable tool for teaching. We asked a small group of faculty what they liked about BBB, and they couldn't think of anything nice to say.

Joni

Cindy_Masek
Community Contributor

I should add also that I know understand that the real issue with our firewall that makes this so difficult for web conferences.  Our IT department in the Medical Center must have specific range of identified IP addresses.  If these change they need advance notice.  Apparently many providers frequently change IP addresses and this is why our previous providers haven't been reliably available through the firewall.  Now that I know this, that is the primary sorting factor I use to determine who we can consider!

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kmeeusen
Community Coach
Community Coach

We are also using Bb Collaborate on a state license. It's Canvas integration is excellent, and I don't think anyone on our campus is using Blg Blu Button except us Admins who only did it a couple time to check it out when we first moved to Canvas.

Elluminate/Collaborate was great when I worked in the Washington system - great software and excellent account reps.

Cindy_Masek
Community Contributor

Thank you all!  We are in the last steps of making a choice and Adobe connect is looking strong!

For what it is worth; I asked a colleague more familiar with our current webinar process what he liked specifically about Adobe Connect:

  • persistent urls and layouts - great for scheduling
  • great functionality (polling, breakout rooms, 3rd party apps)
  • no limit to storage space, ability to edit recordings
  • really nice event manager plugin tool - campaign around events, good data/analytics
  • Just opinion but it looks more professional
Robbie_Grant
Community Coach
Community Coach

At NMSU we are using a concurrent license version of AdobeConnect that is integrated with Canvas.  Our faculty seem very happy with it at the moment.  The only caveat is the naming convention that has to be used due to the way Connect is integrated with Canvas.  Other than that it is easy to use from an instructor point of view.

Robbie

d21585h
Community Contributor

We use a hosted version of Adobe Connect that is NOT integrated with Canvas. We put the Adobe Connect links in our Canvas courses and then folks have to login again. Many of our students attend Adobe Connect sessions for their hospital offices and have no issues accessing it. We don't use VPN in conjunction with Adobe Connect. While I am not a HIPPAA expert, I know that our colleagues at the Geisel School of Medicine use Adobe Connect to discuss patient cases as part of the medical students training.

We occasionally look at other web conferencing platforms and thus far have remained with Adobe Connect for all the reasons  @scottdennis ​ stated. While no tool is perfect, it is still the best video conferencing platform for our blended learning program.

demerich
New Member

I know this conversation stopped in December - but if anyone is interested - we are currently using Adobe Connect and have just rolled out Cisco WebEx enterprise version. We are supporting both the Meeting Center and Training Center for instructors. We have a college that is using Zoom but we aren't actively supporting it and we've been asked to look into Big Blue Button. I've been tasked with creating documentation comparing all three and am curious if anyone else has done any comparisons like this or if you feel like sharing updated information on your current solution or solutions.

Thanks!

millerjm
Community Champion

Debra, I did a comparison a few years ago that would still be relevant.  Can you send me a private message and I'll find it and send it to you? 

amanda_taintor
Community Contributor

I would also be very interested in this if you don't mind sharing with me as well.

I'll try to clean it up a bit so I can just post here for everyone. 

Joni,

Any chance you have the comparison document to share?  I need to create one tomorrow and yours would give me a great starting point!

Linda