EDUCAUSE Preview: BigBlueButton Makes Web Conferencing For Online Learning, Easy
Online learning has made it easier to educate more students at the same time. Traditional e-learning where students do an interactive lesson by themselves can be awfully lonely. To maximize the value proposition of online learning, more and more colleges are turning to technology as a way to do remote learning, and increase the amount of seats available for a class. This kind of use of online learning means that students who are out of town or sick can even participate from home and not miss a day of instruction. But there aren’t many tools available to make this a real time experience, and to make students feel like they’re right in the classroom.
BigBlueButton does just that. Since 2009 Blindside Networks has been developing the BigBlueButton open source web conferencing solution for education and online learning. By enabling real time communication tools with no limit to participation outside a users bandwidth, the teacher/student relationship is just as authentic as if they were in the same room. In some cases, by virtue of technology, it’s more authentic.
BigBlueButton offers real time, two way video conferencing. There’s no limit on the amount of webcams that can participate outside of the users bandwidth limitations. Also, BigBlueButton makes it a cinch to share any files from teacher to student, student to teacher and of course with other students. Their platform makes realtime online collaboration an actual thing (other companies have tried and aren’t very successful).
The platform was created specifically for education and has tools that teachers will find useful, baked right in. For instance, there is an instant polling feature that boosts student engagement and a tool that lets teachers know when a student wants to join the discussion. Teachers can record their lectures with a click of a button making it easy for students that can’t participate live or for students who want to recall the lecture later, perhaps while they are working on an assignment.
There’s also an interactive online whiteboard system that updates teacher’s annotations in real time, on every student’s screen, and the whiteboard can be saved as well.
BigBlueButton integrates with most of the top learning management systems found on college campuses including Canvas, BrightSpace, Schoology and Jenzabar. Moodle and Sakai have plugins for deep integration. It’s also LTI 1.o compliant, making BigBlueButton easy to integrate.
You can check out BigBlueButton in person at EDUCAUSE in Philadelphia October 31st – November 3rd, booth #449 and online at BigBlueButton.org