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Community Member

Big Blue Button vs. Zoom

Our campus is rolling out Canvas soon, and we're trying to decide whether to use Big Blue Button or Zoom. Does anyone have experience with both of these conferencing tools? Which do you prefer? Which is easier for instructors and students to use? Do you know if either has a way to take attendance or track who was in the conference?

23 Replies

Thanks! That's helpful.

Learner II

Hi tamychapman@scuhs.edu,

I can echo all of the things others have said about Zoom already. As a person that works remotely from the other side of the planet from my employer I would like to also add that Zoom works really well in low bandwidth situations. I don't know what compression algorithm they use, but it is pretty awesome. My internet at home is slow at best, ADSL, and with Zoom, both my wife and i can be involved in different Zoom meetings at the same time. I have used just about every version of virtual meeting application and Zoom is the only one that allows us both to meet simultaneously. I like BBB and have used it for years in some of my other projects but since I started using Zoom 3 years ago, I haven't looked back.

Learner II

In the California Community Colleges we have a deal with Zoom so it is our preferred route as it is free to educators.  We really like Zoom.  However, if you get a better deal with Big Blue Button, it seems like a great product.  Good Luck!

Learner II

We use BBB and pay for a subscription.  It does require a bit of a set-up but once it's set your good to go.  If you have a paid subscription then you have the option to download your recorded conference which is not an option with the lite or free version.

Also, if you have Arc and a paid subscription then any recorded conferences will automatically upload a copy of the recording to Arc, so once in Arc you can download, close caption and all that fun.

But I will say we have not used Zoom.

Community Member

tamychapman@scuhs.edu We use Zoom and love it, the ability to not only share screen but annotate both ways provides more interaction and quick/easy use. 

We have over 4000 employees across Australia and a remote work force in Asia so for us Zoom has been incredibly helpful and just as easy to embed in Canvas courses also. 

Surveyor

I'm at looking at this same choice at our institution. We currently have BBB, but some faculty find it a little difficult or unreliable. I have used Zoom and really like it myself, and it is super user-friendly. Here's a different way of asking the same question...what does BBB do that Zoom can't do?

Hi acompton@stchas.edu,

The answer to your question, based on my experience and a couple of comparison studies done by other institutions, is that Zoom has more features than BBB. My biggest issue with BBB is that it still requires Flash for some things and quality decreases as the number of participants increases. The other thing that Zoom has that leaves BBB for dead is their mobile apps. We have lots of people attend Zoom sessions on their phones and it just works. I have even presented from my phone and it works well. For me, the choice is easy, if you have the money I would take Zoom in a heartbeat. If you don't have the money, BBB works, but as you already stated, "some faculty find it a little difficult or unreliable." If you are interested, here are the two comparisons that I found with a quick Google search: (no dates listed on these so they may be out of date)

https://projects.iq.harvard.edu/files/dcewebconf/files/zoom_vs_big_blue_button.pdf 

Webconferencing Tools Comparison 

Hope this helps.

Learner II

I prefer Zoom, but yes you would want to check on the cost for your institution. In the California Community Colleges the state currently is paying for Zoom. 

We started with BBB and ended up switching to Zoom. I don't know if it's still this way,  but BBB required flash and Java for certain actions. Many of our students and teachers struggled with this. We also found that many of our students wanted to participate on a mobile device and at the time BBB  wasn't mobile friendly. 

Community Member

Can you set a date/time for a conference? How will students know when to join?