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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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41 Replies

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!

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



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.


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.

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.

Community Member

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