BigBlueButton is an open source web conferencing system for online learning.
BigBlueButton is open source, which means you have full access to the source code under an open source license. With bbb-install.sh, you can setup your own BigBlueButton server in about 15 minutes (or setup 10 BigBlueButton servers if you want). BigBlueButton comes with a simple to use front-end called Greenlight that gives you the ability to create rooms, invite users (using a permanent URL), and manage recordings.
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 license). These capabilities include real-time sharing of audio, video, presentation, and your screen. BigBlueButton can record you sessions for later playback.
BigBlueButton is designed for online learning, which means that while it offers you all expected features of a web conferencing system, it has extensive features that enabling teachers to engage students. The more engagement that occurs, the more learning that takes place.
BigBlueButton uses your browser’s built-in libraries to send/receive audio and video. These libraries are called web real-time communication (WebRTC). Thanks to WebRTC, there is no plugin to download, not binary to install. Your users simply click a link (such as an invitation link to a room in Greenlight) and the BigBlueButton HTML5 client loads and runs within their browser.
We recommend the Chrome and FireFox browsers as they have the best support for WebRTC.
Here is a screenshot of the BigBlueButton client running within Chrome. 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).
BigBlueButton runs within your mobile browsers as well (we recomend iOS 12.2+ and Android 6.0+). There is no mobile application to install – just click a link within your mobile browser on Android (Chrome) and iOS (Safari mobile) and BigBlueButton will load and run. (Both these mobile browsers support WebRTC).
What about Microsoft Edge? Recently, Microsoft announced they are switching Chromium engine. This means that before the end of the year almost a billion Windows 10 computers will be able to run BigBlueButton with a single click. Very cool.
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. The are four core cases for online learning:
- tutoring/virtual office hours
- flipped classroom
- student collaboration
- full online classes
BigBlueButton helps you engage students in each of these use cases with features that 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).
To support users with accessibility needs, BigBlueButton is WCAG 2.0 AA certified (with some exceptions). For more details, see see our official Accessibility Statement and VPAT.
Want to learn more about BigBlueButton? This site contains the project’s documentation. Whether you are an administrator that wants to setup your own BigBlueButton server, or you are a developer want to setup a BigBlueButton server, customize it, and integrate your existing applications, this site has all the information you need to get started.
If you are an end-user (instructor or teacher) and interested in how to use BigBlueButton, visit https://bigbluebutton.org/html5 for tutorial videos.
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:
Getting started quickly
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.
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 value in our work, spread the word to others by
- tweeting us at @bigbluebutton,
- posting a blog about us,
- uploading a video on YouTube demonstrating how you are using BigBlueButton.
Or share your experiences on your favorite social media site. We are passionate about making the worlds best open source web conferencing system for online learning and enjoy reading about how others are benefiting from and building upon BigBlueButton.
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