BigBlueButton is an open source web conferencing system for online learning.
BigBlueButton is open source project, which means you have full access to the source code under an open source license. You can deploy your own BigBlueButton server (or 10 BigBlueButton servers if you want), customize it, and build upon it for your own project. If you are an administrator and want to setup a BigBlueButton server for your organization (perhaps you are looking to run a web conferencing system behind your firewall), you can install BigBlueButton in about 15 minutes. Cool.
Bigbluebutton is a web conferencing system, which means it implements all the core capabilities you expect from a commercial web conferencing system (but under an open source project). These capabilities include real-time sharing of
BigBlueButton is designed for online learning, which means that while it offers the expected features of a web conferencing system, it focus especially on giving ways for a teacher to engage students – such as with multi-user whiteboard and breakout rooms – to help the online student learn.
BigBlueButton does not require you to install any software. You click a link in your web browser, perhaps your joining an online office hour from your learning management system (LMS) or perhaps you’ve setup Green light as a simple to use front-end, and BigBlueButton runs within your web browser. BigBlueButton. There is no binary to download and install, no plug-in you have to run. For the desktop, we recommend Firefox and Chrome as they do a very good job of implementing the web real-time communication (WebRTC) libraries for sharing media.
BigBlueButton runs within your phone or tablet without installing any application. Like running on the desktop, BigBlueButton uses your mobile browser. Specifically, it runs on any iOS 12.2+ and Android 6.0+ device.
Here is a screenshot of the BigBlueButton client running inside the Chrome browser. From left to right, the screenshot shows the User list (the list of users in the session), the chat area, the presentation area, and one shared webcam (you can have many shared webcams in a session).
How does BigBlueButton enable real-time sharing of media without plug-ins or downloads? Chrome, Firefox, and Safari Mobile (iOS) all support the web real-time communications (WebRTC) libraries. These built-in libraries give the browser the ability to send/receive audio, video, and screen. What about Edge? The good news is Microsoft recently announced they are switching Chromium engine (yay!).
Designed for online learning
Imagine you are instructor teaching an online class. You have all the core capabilities of a web conferencing system, but you want to engage your students for online learning. Your use cases for online learning are likely one of the following
- tutoring/virtual office hours
- flipped classroom
- student collaboration
- full online classes
To help you reach students in any of the above use cases, BigBlueButton offers many features to engage your students. These include:
- chat (public and private)
- multi-user whiteboard
- shared notes
- breakout rooms
(Of course, all these features are still useful in a business meeting, but they are particularly useful in an online class).
BigBlueButton can record your session for later playback. To support users with accessibility needs, BigBlueButton is compatible with JAWS screen reader (see our accessibility statement).
Want to try out BigBlueButton? Anyone can setup an account on https://demo.bigbluebutton.org).
This site contains the project’s documentation. It is written for administrators and developers who want to setup a BigBlueButton server, customize it, and integrate it with existing applications using our API. If you are an end-user (instructor or teacher) and interested in how to use BigBlueButton, visit bigbluebutton.org.
A brief overview of BigBlueButton
In BigBlueButton there are only two types of users: a viewer or a moderator.
A viewer (typically the student) can chat, send/receive audio and video, respond to polls, display an emoji (such as raise hand), and participate in a breakout room. All normal user capabilities.
A moderator (typically the instructor) has all the capabilities of a viewer plus the ability to mute/unmute other viewers, lock down viewers (i.e. restrict them from doing private chat), and assign anyone (including themselves) the role of presenter.
The presenter controls the presentation area. This means they can
- upload slides,
- annotate the current slide with the whiteboard controls,
- enable/disable multi-user whiteboard,
- start a poll, and
- share their screen.
We provide two overview videos describing the above capabilities:
- Viewer overview
- Moderator/Presenter overview
Getting started quickly with BigBlueButton
If you are new to BigBlueButton and want to learn more about its capabilities:
- Watch the overview videos to better understand the capabilities of viewer, moderator, and presenter.
- Setup a free account to use BigBlueButton on our demo server.
- Join the BigBlueButton community.
- Follow us social media: Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
If you want to setup your own BigBlueButton server, follow either the step-by-step install instructions for 2.0 or 2.2-beta or, use the bbb-install.sh installation script to setup a server in about 15 minutes.
You’ll need to a front-end for users to access BigBlueButton. If you are setting up a server for the first time, check out Greenlight (which
bbb-install.sh can install for you as well). We also provide a number of integrations with popular open source platforms (such as Moodle or WordPress).
If you are a developer, after setting up your own BigBlueButton server, we recommend
- Checkout the BigBlueButton API
- Setup a development environment a development environment to modify and extend BigBlueButton itself.
The BigBlueButton project is managed by a core group of core committers who care about good design and a streamlined user experience. You can join the community by subscribing to one of our mailing lists and participate in the discussion. Ask a question. Share your experience with BigBlueButton. Or even help us build a feature.
Overview for Viewers (click image below to watch YouTube video):
Overview for Moderators/Presenters (click image below to watch YouTube video):
Spreading the word
If you use BigBlueButton and find it worthwhile, let others know. Blog about it, tweet about it, upload a video to YouTube, etc. Also, we welcome developers who want to help improve BigBlueButton. You’ll find the more you give, the more you get back.
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