** This page is currently DRAFT **. For a video overview of BigBlueButton, see https://bigbluebutton.org/html5.
Welcome to BigBlueButton.
BigBlueButton is an open source web conferencing system for online learning. The goal of the BigBlueButton project is to enable remote students to have a high-quality online learning experience.
BigBlueButton enables real-time sharing of audio, video, and screen. In this regard, you can use BigBlueButton as a generic web confrencing system for video chat and collaboration.
BigBlueButton is designed for collaboration and engagement with a focus on the following use cases:
- Vitual office hours/tutoring
- Flipped classroom (recording content ahead of class)
- Student collaboration
- Full online classes
To support these use use cases, BigBlueButton enables instructors to engage users with interactive chat (public and private), uploaded presentations (PowerPoint, PDF, etc.), whiteboard controls (text, drawing, etc.), multi-user whiteboard (everyone can write on the whiteboard), shared notes, emojis, polling, and breakout rooms.
BigBlueButton can record all content in a session for later playback.
BigBlueButton uses a HTML5 client. As such, using BigBlueButton requires no downloads, no plugins, and no software installations. It loads within the browser with a single click. The HTML5 client provides a unified interface across desktop, laptop, chromebook, and mobile devices (iOS 11+ and Android 6.0+). There is no app to install on mobile devices. On mobile devices, the HTML5 client loads and runs within the mobile browser, which on iOS (Safari Mobile) and Android (Google Chrome).
BigBlueButton is deeply integrated into the leading learning management systems (LMS). For Instructure (Canvas), Schoology, Jenzabar, Moodle Cloud, and D2L, BigBlueButton is the built-in virtual classroom. In other words, they have integrated BigBlueButton into their core product. Another example of the popularity of BigBlueButton in the educational space is high usage amongst the Moodle community. There are currently are over 1500 plugins available for Moodle. The BigBlueButtonBN plugin for Moodle has ranked among the top 10 downloaded plugins for past five years.
While you can think of BigBlueButton as a general web conferencing system (as implements many of the features you would expect in such a system),
Because it implements all the features you would expect in a web conferencing system, BigBlueButton is also heavily used outside the learning managment space. One of the largest deployments on the planent is by the US Department of Defense (see DISA deployment of DCS). The DoD has saved over 12 million dollars each year using BigBlueButton since deploying BigBlueButton in 2015.
BigBlueButton is open source. Want to setup your own BigBlueButton server? You can in about 15 minutes. Want to incorporate BigBlueButton in your product? You can under the terms and conditions of BigBlueButton’s open source license. The core developers of the project feel a source of pride when others incorporate BigBlueButton into their product. There is no higher praise for an open source project.
BigBlueButton is supported by a community of developers, users, and commercial companies who care about a providing a good experience to users and who share a common vision: to build the world’s best web conferencing system that is easy to use, open, extensible, education-focusesd.
The BigBlueButton project maintains a open demo server to enable in the world to login, create an account, and try using BigBlueButton.
This document covers the features and capabilities of BigBlueButton 2.2-beta (referred hereafter as simply BigBlueButton).
The features avaialble to a user depends on how they joined the BigBlueButton session and whether they are the current presenter.
In a BigBlueButton session, users join either as a
viewer (typically a student) can chat, send/receive audio and video, respond to polls, and display an emoji (such as raise hand). They can also draw on the whiteboard (if given permission by the presenter) and join a breakout room. A veiwer, however, doesn’t have any control over the session itself. That’s the role of the moderator.
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. A session can have multiple moderators. Moderators can also eject any user, start/stop recording, end the session at any time.
presenter controls the presentation area. In this respect, the presenter can upload slides, annotate the current slide with the whiteboard controls, enable/disable multi-user whiteboard, start a poll, and share their screen for all to see. Only one person at a time can be presenter.
Given the the above – viewers, moderators, and presenter – we can break down the capabilities of the product according to each role.
We’ll start with the role of the viewer.
Responsive User Interface
One measure of a successful user interface is how little effort it takes new users to master it.
BigBlueButton has a pure HTML5 interface that loads quickly, is accessible, and works across laptop, desktop, chromebook, and mobile clients (phones and tables). BigBlueButton works best on FireFox and Chrome, and Mobile Safari on iOS (12.2+). There are no plugin or extensions to download ann install. It loads quickly and is designed ot be familiar to anyone who has used a web application to share audio and video.
BigBlueButton implements a responsive user interface that works across devices.
BigBlueButton was designed to fully leverage all that HTML5 provides for creating accessible applications.
BigBlueButton uses the browser’s built-in capability for web real-time communiation (WebRTC). WebRTC allows the browsers to send/receive high-quality audio/video without plugins.
The recommended browsers are FireFox and Chrome.
Overall, WebRTC provides the user a higher quality and lower latency audio/video transmission. Users have the ability to quickly join the session as a listener, which does not require any permissions from the browser.
We recommend you watch the two overview videos at https://bigbluebutton.org/html5.