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Questions about Conferences using Big Blue Button

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An instructor asked me these questions about Conferences, and I'm not readily finding answers. She is trying to determine if she should use the Conferences tool built in to Canvas or use a 3rd party app. Can you all help?

  1. What technological requirements would students need to be able to join the conference? Could they connect via Canvas on the iPad?
  2. Is there a way for the students to submit feedback after each presenter that is visible to the instructor but anonymous to the students?
  3. Is there a maximum amount of storage Canvas will allow for recording conferences? I'd want to be sure we wouldn't run out of room.
  4. Does the app offer any functionality for presenting slides via the computer screen during the presentation in a split screen format where instructors could see both slides and the speaker at the same time?
  5. Does the app log when the students log into the conference and if they leave the page during a session? I'd want to be able to verify that the "audience" attended the speeches.
1 Solution

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Hi David,

I'm Fred Dixon, CEO of Blindside Networks and, with my open source hat on, the product manager for BigBlueButton.  We've been working closely with Instructure since 2011 and supporting them with the integration of BigBlueButton into Canvas as Canvas Conferences. 

> What technological requirements would students need to be able to join the conference?

The BigBlueButton client is Flash based, so any browser (Mac, Unix, or PC) capable of running Flash would work.  We recommend using FireFox or Chrome for best audio (IE and Safari work fine too).  Chromebooks work fine as well.

For mobile options see next question.

> Could they connect via Canvas on the iPad?

Yes.  While not officially supported, a user can join the BigBlueButton session using the Puffin Web Browser for iOS or Android ($4.99 on Apple's app store or Google's Play store). 

Here's a screen shot of BigBlueButton running on an iPad.

Puffin Browser

If a student on an iPad, for example, wanted to join a Canvas Conferences session.  They would launch into Canvas using the Puffin Browser, navigate to their course, and join the BigBlueButton session.

We're also working on an HTML5 version of BigBlueButton client and an iOS version of the BigBlueButton client.  You'll see demos at the upcoming InstructureCon.

> Is there a way for the students to submit feedback after each presenter that is visible to the instructor but anonymous to the students?

Not currently, but it's a very good suggestion.  One way we've though is that after the user leaves the session, they have the opportunity to rate the professor's presentation before returning to Canvas.

We could aggregate the ratings and anonymously send them to the instructor.

> Is there a maximum amount of storage Canvas will allow for recording conferences? I'd want to be sure we wouldn't run out of room.

There is no maximum storage.  In the free tier, recordings expire after 14 days.  In the premium tier, recordings are permanent (until deleted). 

> Does the app offer any functionality for presenting slides via the computer screen during the presentation in a split screen format where instructors could see both slides and the speaker at the same time?

Yes, you can use the desktop sharing to share a region of the first monitor while running BigBlueButton on a second monitor.

> Does the app log when the students log into the conference and if they leave the page during a session? I'd want to be able to verify that the "audience" attended the speeches.

We don't have built-in attendance monitoring yet, but analytics are one of the areas we're looking at adding to a future version.

Thanks your questions David!

Regards,... Fred

BigBlueButton Product Manager

CEO, Blindside Networks

View solution in original post

19 Replies
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Community Member

David,

A couple of BBB staff are here in the community, ffdixon@blindsidenetworks.com and tara@blindsidenetworks.com so I'm going to bring them in to help answer your questions.

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Community Member

Hi David,

I'm Fred Dixon, CEO of Blindside Networks and, with my open source hat on, the product manager for BigBlueButton.  We've been working closely with Instructure since 2011 and supporting them with the integration of BigBlueButton into Canvas as Canvas Conferences. 

> What technological requirements would students need to be able to join the conference?

The BigBlueButton client is Flash based, so any browser (Mac, Unix, or PC) capable of running Flash would work.  We recommend using FireFox or Chrome for best audio (IE and Safari work fine too).  Chromebooks work fine as well.

For mobile options see next question.

> Could they connect via Canvas on the iPad?

Yes.  While not officially supported, a user can join the BigBlueButton session using the Puffin Web Browser for iOS or Android ($4.99 on Apple's app store or Google's Play store). 

Here's a screen shot of BigBlueButton running on an iPad.

Puffin Browser

If a student on an iPad, for example, wanted to join a Canvas Conferences session.  They would launch into Canvas using the Puffin Browser, navigate to their course, and join the BigBlueButton session.

We're also working on an HTML5 version of BigBlueButton client and an iOS version of the BigBlueButton client.  You'll see demos at the upcoming InstructureCon.

> Is there a way for the students to submit feedback after each presenter that is visible to the instructor but anonymous to the students?

Not currently, but it's a very good suggestion.  One way we've though is that after the user leaves the session, they have the opportunity to rate the professor's presentation before returning to Canvas.

We could aggregate the ratings and anonymously send them to the instructor.

> Is there a maximum amount of storage Canvas will allow for recording conferences? I'd want to be sure we wouldn't run out of room.

There is no maximum storage.  In the free tier, recordings expire after 14 days.  In the premium tier, recordings are permanent (until deleted). 

> Does the app offer any functionality for presenting slides via the computer screen during the presentation in a split screen format where instructors could see both slides and the speaker at the same time?

Yes, you can use the desktop sharing to share a region of the first monitor while running BigBlueButton on a second monitor.

> Does the app log when the students log into the conference and if they leave the page during a session? I'd want to be able to verify that the "audience" attended the speeches.

We don't have built-in attendance monitoring yet, but analytics are one of the areas we're looking at adding to a future version.

Thanks your questions David!

Regards,... Fred

BigBlueButton Product Manager

CEO, Blindside Networks

View solution in original post

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Thanks!

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I tried the Puffin Browser yesterday, and while it wasn't as smooth as accessing a conference via the desktop, it worked! It's an exciting work-around to have.

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Unfortunately the puffin browser is not an option for us as it is unfiltered and also cost prohibitive. We really need a solution on the ipad like an app or HTML5 usable version of Big Blue Button!!! This could not come soon enough! We are actively looking for other solutions since BBB is not a viable option.

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Hi Mike,

> Unfortunately the puffin browser is not an option for us as it is unfiltered and also cost prohibitive.

No worries.  As stated in the previous post, we're working on both an iOS and HTML5 version of the client.  We know that mobile solutions are important too and we look forward to delivering them to the Canvas community.

Regards,... Fred

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Fred, will the HTML5 version also fix the problem that is occurring now when you try to share your screen using Chrome? If students are on Chromebooks, they can not use another browser, so they are unable to share their screens. Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 12.01.27 PM.png

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Hi Misty,

We are working on a version of desktop sharing that uses WebRTC (not Java) in FireFox and Chrome.  This means the presenter will be able to do desktop sharing from ChromeBooks as well.

This work is underway.  You can expect a full update at InstructureCon.  Hope to see you there.

Regards,... Fred
--
BigBlueButton Developer

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any updates on the iOS or HTML 5 versions? 

Thanks!!

Mike