Webinars within Moodle

the Big Blue Button logoWe’ve recently been investigating options for including webinars to our blended learning teaching practice, and something that might also be easily integrated within Moodle. We believe we’ve found the perfect fit- BigBlueButton.

BigBlueButton (BBB) is an open source web conferencing system developed primarily for distance education.

The beauty of BBB is not only that its open source and therefore free, but it also comes with integration for Moodle. Our ‘IT Crowd‘ were able to download and install BBB and integrate it with our Moodle 2 test site in a matter of minutes. Once installed it becomes available from the Activities drop down within Moodle.

The clip below shows you how easy it is to add a BBB activity to a Moodle topic, it’s settings within Moodle and then shows you what a student would see when they enter their course.

Overview

Let’s be clear, it’s not as fully featured as say Adobe Connect but in our testing we’ve found it to be just as stable & featured enough to not have a need to source more expensive proprietary products. There are three roles available for participants-

  • Viewer: are users who have no authority within the conference; their primary role is to view the presentation as well as chat amongst other participants. In a course the viewer would be the students.
  • Presenter: has all the same capabilities as a participant, with the added features of uploading presentations and sharing their desktop
  • Moderator: has all the capabilities as a participant, with the added features of uploading presentations and sharing their desktop and perhaps more importantly mute particpants

Additional features

  • Public and Private Chat: The Chat window enables all participants to conduct public or private chats
  • Watch presentations: The presentation window displays the current presentation Participants can zoom in the presentation using the slider, as we navigated through the slides using the arrow button
  • Mute or Eject Participants: You can mute and un-mute participants in the conference by clicking the icons located at the bottom left side of the module. You can also eject participants from the voice conference by clicking on their name and then clicking the eject button
  • Share your Desktop: As a presenter you have the capability of sharing your desktop with others in the conference. When you share your desktop, BigBlueButton will launch a Java Applet that asks for your permissions to run. You have the option of sharing a portion of your desktop or the entire screen.

What can’t it do (at present)

  • Record the session, but we believe this is in development for future releases. NB: BBB does allow you to copy the text from the Chat box for administrative uses etc.
  • Polling, you cannot ask questions and have your students respond using voting buttons like Elluminate allows
  • Text annotation on the screen. This is a little disappointing however you can annotate & highlight using ‘pen’ and shape tools 

Remember this is not Skype, while you can connect ‘one to many’ with Skype there is a cost attached; BBB is free. Another advantage is the user doesn’t have to load any software- a big bonus for novice or not tech-savvy students

Our next post we’ll discuss webinar teaching practice and how to get the most out of your sessions given a little bit of planning and some sensible ground rules- stay tuned!

We hope you enjoyed this post, please feel free to make a comment or ask a question.

The Learning Innovation team

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2 responses to “Webinars within Moodle

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. We *really* appreciate it when others take the time to review BigBlueButton for the benefit of the community.

    To copy text from the chat, you need to right-click on the chat window and choose “copy all text”

    For pooling, we’ll be definitely adding it in a future iteration. Same with text annotation.

    At the moment, we working on record and playback now for the upcoming release. We’ll be integrating the playback with the Moodle plugin, and the goal is to make it as seamless and easy as possible. I’m the author of the Moodle plugin you reviewed in your video.

    When we have a beta for record and playback, I’ll circle back and post to this blog.

    Regards,… Fred
    BigBlueButton Developer

    • Fred,
      Many thanks for your feedback too. We can’t wait for the next iteration, keep up the good work.

      Geoff Young
      Team Leader
      Learning Innovation

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