1. Getting Started with BigBlueButton
    1. Where do I access BigBlueButton?
    2. Need help using BigBlueButton?
    3. Not sure if BigBlueButton is the right web conferencing tool for your course?
  2. Minimum requirements for connecting to BigBlueButton
  3. Adding a BigBlueButton Session to Your Brightspace Course
  4. Editing BigBlueButton Meeting Room Settings
    1. Edit a BBB Meeting Room Title
    2. Edit or Add Dates
    3. Delete a BBB Meeting Room
    4. Hide a BBB Meeting Room from students
    5. Add or Edit Release Conditions
    6. Add or Edit Completion Tracking
  5. Joining Your BigBlueButton Session
    1. Connecting to a BBB Session via the Phone Bridge
  6. Roles in BigBlueButton
    1. Adding a TA as a Moderator
    2. Additional Recommendations for Moderator/Presenters
  7. Adding Guests to a BBB Session
  8. Best Practices and Student Support
  9. Video Tutorials for BigBlueButton  

BigBlueButton (BBB) is a synchronous web conferencing tool that allows instructors and TAs to host live online presentations, seminars, office hours, or other meetings. BigBlueButton is fully supported at Carleton University and easily accessible to both instructors and students from within Brightspace. BigBlueButton is simple to use and has many useful features for creating engaging, collaborative online learning experiences, including:

  • An interactive meeting room with audio, video, presentation, chat, polling, shared notes, and whiteboard capabilities that allows students to be fully engaged in the online environment.NOTE: BBB only supports up to 100 users at a time. If you require more than 100 users you should consider using another platform, such as Zoom.
  • Secure user authentication so each course can have its own private room accessible to students from within Brightspace or via email invitation for guests from outside of the Carleton community 
  • A recording feature that allows online meetings to be automatically recorded and posted in Brightspace

→Check the BigBlueButton status page to see if there are any current issues

NOTE:
This page contains information for the new HTML5 client that was released in April 2019. Unlike the Flash client, the new HTML5 client runs on desktop, laptop, chromebook, and mobile devices (iOS 12.2+ and Android 6.0+) without requiring any plugins or extensions. You’ll also find the HTML5 client loads faster, is easier to use (than the previous client), and provides more ways for you to engage students (such as sharing YouTube videos). The HTML5 client runs within the browser so there is no app to install.

Getting Started with BigBlueButton

Where do I access BigBlueButton?

You can access BigBlueButton within your Brightspace course page. To launch BBB you need to manually add a BigBlueButton session room to your course.

Please review the following prior to setting up a BigBlueButton session in your course:

Need help using BigBlueButton?

If you are interested in using BBB in your course and want assistance, contact the Educational Technology Team at the EDC by phone at extension 4433 or by email at edtech@carleton.ca

See the EDC Events page for information on upcoming online BigBlueButton workshops.

Not sure if BigBlueButton is the right web conferencing tool for your course?

Watch the BigBlueButton Video Tutorials to see if BigBlueButton would suit your needs. You can find out more information about web conferencing, including best practices and the differences between the tools (BigBlueButton, Microsoft Teams and Zoom) on our Web Conferencing at Carleton page. BBB only supports up to a maximum of 20 webcams.  If you require more than 20, consider using Zoom (see more Zoom instructions here).

If you are planning on using BigBlueButton or other synchronous activities in your course, it is important to consider the fact that not all students will have access to robust internet during the Covid pandemic. Watch the “To Synch or not to Synch?” video prior to designing your course for an overview of the differences between synchronous and asynchronous online teaching design.

Minimum requirements for connecting to BigBlueButton

We recommend all users ensure they are meeting the minimum requirements below for BigBlueButton HTML5 prior to their first live session.

Below you will find Computer, Browser, Audio, Mobile Device, and Internet Bandwidth recommendations.

Computer Recommendations
  • We recommend using a laptop or desktop computer with (at least) 4GB of memory and a 2Ghz processor (Most computers bought in the last four years should meet the minimum requirement).
Browser Recommendations
  • Desktop/Laptop:  A current, up to date version of Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Edge. We recommend Google Chrome for use with BBB.
    NOTE: You can use Safari on Mac OS X, but you will not be able to access the screen sharing feature.
  • Mobile iOS: Safari Mobile IOS  Note; IOS does not support screen sharing. 
    NOTE: iOS does not support screen sharing.
  • Mobile Android: Chrome Mobile
  • BigBlue Button relies on a technology called WebRTC. WebRTC is an open framework for the web that enables Real-Time Communications (RTC) capabilities in the browser. Not all browsers fully support WebRTC. Google Chrome fully supports WebRTC.
Audio Recommendations

  • We strongly recommend using a headset  (headphones or earbuds) to ensure that viewers can hear your voice clearly without any echo or background noise.  You do not need to buy an expensive set — any basic headset with a built-in microphone will work.
  • Use external headphones and turn off or mute your computer speakers to eliminate audio feedback if you plan to speak.
  • Use an external microphone if possible. Typing on a laptop and using the built in microphone will not sound great.
  • If using Google Chrome: Make sure you give the browser permission to use the Microphone by clicking ‘Allow’ at the top right-hand corner of the screen (in most cases).
    NOTE: A laptop with a built-in webcam and microphone may be sufficient as well if you’re in a quiet area, but headphones and an external microphone are preferred if possible for the best experience. Not using headphones posses a great risk of audio feedback as your microphone can hear your speakers.
Mobile Device Recommendations

  • Data Connection: We recommended 4G LTI for best results or minimum 3G Network to use audio, view presentation content and receive screen sharing.
  • Wireless Connection:  We recommend private networks versus public networks.
  • Device Settings: We recommend reducing device usage while connecting to BigBlueButton.  This means closing applications running in the background and reduce browsing activities.
  • Data Charges Mobile users should consider if data charges will apply. BBB uses a lot of data.
Internet Bandwidth Recommendations

We recommend moderators or presenters connect through a wired network (not wireless) if possible. If connecting from a wireless network that is not reliable, you may experience periodic disconnects or gaps in your audio. All users will benefit from using a wired ethernet connection.

Do an internet speed test in advance of using BBB for the first time or from a new location.

  • Presenter Role: You must have at least 2.0 Mbits/second upstream and 5 Mbits/second downstream.
  • Viewer Role: You must have at least 1.0 Mbits/second upstream and 2 Mbits/second downstream.
Internet Speed Test
  • Check your household internet bandwidth before using BBB to see if your internet meets the speed requirements. Sites such as https://speedtest.net  and Fast.com can be used to measure your internet connectivity.
  • Presenters should pay close attention to the upload speed as it will greatly impact the user experience.
  • Ask household members to refrain from using bandwidth intensive activities such as gaming online or streaming media while you are presenting as these activities can diminish the bandwidth needed for web conferencing.

TIP: Check the status page for BigBlueButton’s commercial hosting platform, Blindside Networks Inc., to view real-time and historical system performance updates.  Any system-wide issues affecting BBB meeting rooms or recording processing will be reported here.

Adding a BigBlueButton Session to Your Brightspace Course

When you add a BBB session to your course page, you are adding a virtual web conferencing space where the course community can meet.  The BBB session can be recorded or unrecorded based your needs. You can have one or many BBB rooms in your course depending on your teaching needs. Give your BBB sessions meaningful names.

To add a BBB session:

  1. Log in to Brightspace using your MyCarletonOne credentials.
  2. On your Brightspace homepage, locate your course in one of the following ways:
    • Click on your course under My Courses.
    • Click the Course selector grid then select your course from the drop-down menu.
  3. Click Content in the navbar to expand the Content area on the left side of your course page.
  4. In the left sidebar under Table of Contents, click on the module/week section where you’d like to add the Assignment (Week 1 is an example of a module in the image below). Alternatively, you can scroll down the Table of Contents page to locate the module/sub-module you want to add an assignment to.  For instructions on how to add a new module or sub-module to your course, see the Adding Modules and Sub-modules page.                                 
  5. Click the Existing Activities button.
  6. In the drop-down menu, select External Tools.
  7. In the Add an Activity window, click BigBlueButton.
  8. Click the BigBlueButton link.                                                         
  9. On the Create Room page, enter the following:
    1. Enter a name for your meeting.
    2. Add a description (optional)
    3. Add a welcome message (optional)
    4. You have the option to select the following checkboxes:
      • All users will join as moderators
      • Student’s must wait until an instructor joins the session – Choose this option if if you want to prevent viewers from entering the session before the moderator who is managing the session.
      • Sessions in this room may be recorded – Choose this option if you want to record your session for later viewing.                       
  10. Under Activity Details at the bottom of the page, you have the following settings options:
    • Visibility – Your BBB meeting room is visible to students by default. To hide your meeting room from students, click the visibility toggle button. The toggle will appear greyed out with a crossed out eye icon when hidden, and blue with an open eye icon when visible       
    • Completion Tracking – Completion Tracking allows instructors monitor whether students are accessing the BBB meeting room link. See the Class Progress page for more information about enabling completion tracking and viewing student progress.
      NOTE: The completion tracking setting will only monitor when students click on the BigBlueButton link within Brightspace and will not track attendance within the BBB meeting room.
    • Dates and Restrictions – You have the option to restrict student access to the BBB meeting room within specific start and end dates.
    • Assessment – If you will be grading BBB participation, you can link your BBB meeting room to your gradebook. Click Add a grade item…, then select an existing grade item or click the + sign to create a new grade item.
  11. Click Save.

Your BBB meeting is now set up. Click Join to access your BBB meeting room.

Editing BigBlueButton Meeting Room Settings

To edit your BBB settings within Brightspace:

  1. Click the arrow next to the BigBlueButton meeting room link.
  2. In the drop-down menu, select one of the following options:
    • View Topic to access your BigBlueButton page, then click Edit Room to access the Edit Room page where you initially configured your meeting room settings.
    • Edit Properties in Place to edit your BBB settings within your Table of Contents.
NOTE:
When editing your settings using Edit Properties in Place, we recommend selecting the Open as External Resource checkbox to allow the BBB meeting room to open in a separate window.

Edit a BBB Meeting Room Title

    1. Locate the link for the BBB meeting room you want to edit, then click the arrow to the right of the title.
    2. In the drop-down menu, select Edit Properties in Place.
    3. Click the topic title, then type your new title. Click outside the text box or click enter on your keyboard to save your changes.

Edit or Add Dates

    1. Locate the link for the BBB meeting room you want to edit, then click the arrow to the right of the title.
    2. In the drop-down menu, select Edit Properties in Place.
    3. Click on the existing dates or click Add dates and restrictions… to enter a Start Date, Due Date or End Date. Click outside the text box or click enter on your keyboard to save your changes.
      • Start Dates specify when a student can view or access the BBB Meeting Room.
      • Due Dates specify when a student should complete the topic. The due date will appear in the course Calendar and students will be able to access the topic content after the date has passed.
      • End Dates restrict access to the meeting room and remove all access once the end date has passed.

Delete a BBB Meeting Room

    1. Locate the link for the BBB meeting room you want to edit, then click the arrow to the right of the title.
    2. In the drop-down menu, select Edit Properties in Place.
    3. Click the trash can icon , then choose whether to remove from the Content view only or permanently delete from the course.

Hide a BBB Meeting Room from students

    1. Locate the link for the BBB meeting room, then click the arrow to the right of the topic title.
    2. In the drop-down menu, select Edit Properties in Place.
    3. Click the eye icon  to access the visibility toggle. The toggle will appear greyed out with a crossed out eye icon when hidden, and blue with an open eye icon when visible           

Add or Edit Release Conditions

    1. Locate link for the BBB meeting room you want to edit, then click the arrow to the right of the title.
    2. In the drop-down menu, select Edit Properties in Place. The topic is now editable within your Table of Contents
    3. Click Create to add a new release condition or Browse to add an existing release condition. See the Creating Release Conditions page for more instructions.

Add or Edit Completion Tracking

    1. Locate the link for the BBB meeting room you want to edit, then click the arrow to the right of the title.
    2. In the drop-down menu, select Edit Properties in Place. The topic is now editable within your Table of Contents
    3. Click the double dash icon to enable completion tracking or the checkmark icon to the existing completion tracking settings for a topic. See the Setting up Completion Tracking page for instructions.

Joining Your BigBlueButton Session

BigBlueButton sessions are launched within your Brightspace course page. To launch and configure a new session, you will need to first add the big blue button session to your course page. Once a BBB session has been added, you can configure and test your audio/microphone settings and begin your meeting.

To join your BBB session:

  1. Log in to Brightspace using your MyCarletonOne credentials.
  2. On your Brightspace homepage, locate your course in one of the following ways:
    • Click on your course under My Courses.
    • Click the Course selector grid then select your course from the drop-down menu.
  3. Click Content in the navbar to expand the Content area on the left side of your course page.
  4. In the left sidebar under Table of Contents, click on the module/week section that you added your BBB room to. Alternatively, you can scroll down your table of content page to locate the link.
  5. Click on your BigBlueButton meeting link.                                     
  6. Click on the link to your BigBlueButton session on your main course page.
    NOTE: If you don’t see a BigBlueButton link, you will first need to add a BigBlueButton session
  7. Click Join Session.                                                                   
  8. Choose whether to participate by using a microphone or listen only.  As the session moderator, you should select microphone if you will be speaking during your meeting.                         
    TIP: It is advised that instructors and students join the session with a wired microphone headset as this will allow them to participate with clean audio. In an emergency, users can phone in to access the audio portion of the BBB session. (See Phone Bridge below.) If the student is only experiencing an audio problem on their computer, they can watch the computer screen while listening/speaking using their phone. Should they connect by phone alone, they will not be able to view any visual presentations, use the chat features, or join Breakout Rooms.
  9. Test your audio by speaking a few words and listening for the sound of your voice. See the screen shot below for a visual of the Echo test window. The Echo test will ask you to speak and then play back your words.                             
  10. Click Yes if the audio test has been successful (i.e. you were able to hear yourself speak through the headset speakers).   Click No If your audio test was not successful. You can then check that you have selected the appropriate microphone, and that your microphone is plugged in correctly. 
NOTE: Click No if you have more than one microphone and BBB is using the wrong one.  A new menu will appear and you can select the correct microphone from the drop-down menu.  You can then re-attempt the audio test.

You are now successfully setup to begin your BBB session. Watch the video tutorial below provides an overview of your capabilities as a moderator, including how you can mute/unmute users, assign presenters, create breakout rooms for student discussions, and share your screen:

See the Managing a BigBlueButton Session page for the following instructions:

Connecting to a BBB Session via the Phone Bridge

The Phone Bridge is an alternative means of connecting to the audio in a BBB session and might be necessary if the user is experiencing audio or internet issues. It allows users to dial into the session by phone while staying connected visually over a computer.

The connection information can be found at the top of the Public Chat window for all viewers. There is a local Ottawa number and a toll-free North America number, and a conference pin that is unique to each BBB activity. When users dial in, they are prompted by the system to enter the conference pin followed by the pound (#) key. Once connected, the user can mute themselves by pressing “0”.

Users can also access the Ottawa BBB phone number and conference pin by clicking the “Join using your phone” link in the Audio Configuration/Echo Test window.

NOTE: It is possible to connect via the Phone Bridge to a Breakout Room, but the conference pin will be distinct from the main lobby. Users will need to call the BBB phone number again and enter the new conference pin.

Roles in BigBlueButton

In a BigBlueButton session, there are three types of users: a Viewer, Presenter and Moderator.

  • Viewers (Students) have the following capabilities unless restricted by the Moderator:
    • Share audio & webcam
    • Chat/use emojis
    • Respond to polls
    • Write in the shared notes. Export the shared notes.
    • Respond to invites for breakout rooms.
    • Answer Poll questions
  • Presenters (Instructors or students) have the following capabilities:
    • Upload slides and advance slides
    • Use the annotation tools
    • Show an external video
    • Start a poll and publish poll results
NOTE: There can only be one presenter at a time.
  • Moderators (Instructors/TAs) have all the capabilities of a viewer plus the following:
    • Manage viewers audio (Mute/unmute)
    • Lockdown viewers (i.e. restrict them from doing private chat)
    • Assign anyone (including themselves) the role of presenter
    • Create breakout rooms for student discussions
    • Write closed captions
    • Start/Stop Recordings
    • End Meetings

Adding a TA as a Moderator

If you plan on having a TA moderate a BBB session in your course, you can promote them to moderator during your session.

TAs as Moderators

Users enrolled as Teaching Assistants (normal and Full Rights) in a Brightspace course are automatically designated Moderators when joining a BBB meeting via the course page. They have the same abilities as instructors and can start meetings when the “Students must wait until an instructor joins the session” option is enabled.
Promoting Viewers to Moderator Status

To promote a participant (guest speaker, student, etc) to Moderator status during the session:

  1. In the Users List on the left side of your session window, click the name of the user you want to promote to moderator.
  2. In the drop-down menu, select Promote to moderator.

NOTE: Viewers who are promoted to Moderator status during a session will default to their original roles in future sessions.

Additional Recommendations for Moderator/Presenters

  • Moderators and presenters can join BigBlueButton using a mobile device, however, use of more bandwidth intensive features, such as the screen sharing, may be limited. We recommend Moderators and Presenters connect from a desktop or laptop device whenever possible to ensure all features and functions available in BigBlueButton are accessible to the user.
  • For screen sharing, we recommend using FireFox or Chrome for best results. Screen sharing uses more bandwidth than sharing a webcam, so a good upstream bandwidth is required (at least 1 Mbits/sec) .
  • We recommend moderators or presenters connect through a wired network (not wireless) if possible.  If connecting from a wireless network that is not reliable, you may experience periodic disconnects or gaps in your audio.

Adding Guests to a BBB Session

If you want to add a guest to your BBB session who is not enrolled in your Brightspace course, you can send them an invitation link to your meeting via email. This invitation cannot be created in advance. The invitation link is created after the BBB session is initiated. The invitation link is only valid during the current session and will no longer work after the session has ended. Each new session generates a new invitation. You must start the session and then email the invitation link to your guest.

To invite a guest to your session:

  1. In the Public Chat window, click Invite a guest to join this meeting.                 
  2. Click Email an invite to open a new email composer window.                           
  3. Compose and Send your invitation email.  By default, you will see the message below with a link to your BBB session.       

Best Practices and Student Support

Not all students will have access to robust internet during the Covid pandemic. Please take this into consideration when designing your course with synchronous activities. Please watch this video prior to designing your course. The video gives an overview of the differences in synchronous and asynchronous online teaching design.

BigBlueButton Student Support Page

  • Encourage users to connect with a current version of Chrome or Firefox browsers
  • Encourage users to use a headset and microphone, not their laptop/computer microphone
  • Open the session early
  • Alert students if you will be recording. This should be done in advance and at the start of each session.
  • Send participants directions and reminders ahead of time
  • Have a BBB session early in the semester to allow students to get familiar with the tool.
  • Request input for the session agenda from students
  • Review the session layout with participants, reminding them that they can chat or raise a hand to ask questions
  • Create an opening slide with set up instructions
  • Have participants introduce themselves
  • Use polling and emoticons to keep students engaged
  • If a student is promoted to a Moderator or Presenter role they will require higher internet bandwidth to use the presentation tools. Please refer to the bandwidth requirement section of this support site.

Video Tutorials for BigBlueButton  

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