1. Roles in BigBlueButton
  2. What are the minimum requirements for BigBlueButton HTML5?
    1. Desktop/Laptop Users
    2. Mobile Device Users
    3. Additional Recommendations for Moderator/Presenters
  3. Adding a BigBlueButton Session to Your cuLearn Course
  4. Configuring Your Computer for BigBlueButton
  5. Managing Your Session
  6. Recording a Session
  7. Using Polls in BBB
  8. Annotating a Presentation
  9. Navigating the Presentation
  10. Using Hotkeys in Your Presentation
  11. Student Support and Best Practices
  12. 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 from cuLearn. BigBlueButton is easy to use and fully supported at Carleton University. It is simple to set up a session, load a presentation, answer questions, and record the session.

Watch the BigBlueButton Video Tutorials to see if BigBlueButton would suit your needs. 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

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).

For desktop and laptop computers, we recommend using the latest version of the browser.

For mobile devices, we recommend using Chrome on Android devices and Safari on iOS devices. The HTML5 client runs within the browser: there is no app to install.

Roles in BigBlueButton

In a BigBlueButton session, there are only two types of users: a viewer or moderator.

A viewer (typically the student) can chat, send/receive audio and video, respond to polls, and display an emoji (such as raise hand).

A moderator (typically the instructor) has all the capabilities of a viewer plus the ability to mute/unmute other viewers, lockdown 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 for all to see.

Moderators are represented by a square icon and viewers are represented by a circle.

What are the minimum requirements for BigBlueButton HTML5?

Minimum requirements may vary depending on the device and browser being used. We recommend all users ensure they are meeting the minimum requirements for BigBlueButton HTML5 prior to their first live session.

Desktop/Laptop Users

The following settings are recommended for all users connecting to BigBlueButton via desktop or laptop device:

  1. For computer, you need a laptop or desktop computer with (at least) 2G of memory and a 1Ghz processor (any computer bought in the last five years should be fine).
  2. For bandwidth, you must have at least 0.5 Mbits/second upstream and 1 Mbits/second downstream.  To check bandwidth use, https://speedtest.net/.
  3. For browsers, we recommend Google Chrome (Flash is built-in) or Mozilla FireFox.  You can also use Safari on Mac OS X, but you will not be able to use the screen sharing feature .
  4. For audio, we strongly recommend using a headset.  A headset will ensure that others can hear your voice clearly and you don’t cause echo or background noise for others.  You do not need to buy an expensive one — any basic headset with a built-in microphone will work.

A laptop with a built-in webcam and microphone will be sufficient as well if you’re in a quiet area. That being said, using a headset and microphone will result in a better experience for all users.

Additional recommendations for Moderator/Presenters:
A moderator or presenter has the same requirements as students, with the following additions if you intend to do screen sharing.  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.

Mobile Device Users

The following settings are recommended for all users connecting to BigBlueButton from a mobile device:

For data network, we recommended 4G LTI for best results or minimum 3G Network to use audio, view presentation content and receive screen sharing.
For connection via wireless, we recommend private versus public networks.
For device settings, we recommend reducing device usage while connecting to BigBlueButton; close applications that my run in the background and reduce browsing activities.

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.

A moderator or presenter has the same requirements as students, with the following additions if you intend to screen share.  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 a BigBlueButton Session to Your cuLearn 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.

  1. Login to your cuLearn course page
  2. Scroll to the section where you’d like to add the BBB session
  3. Select BigBlueButtonBN from the Add an activity drop-down menu. See the screen shot below for  a visual of the Add an activity menu window.
  4. Select an instance type. An instance determines how the tool will work.
    • Room activity with recordings will allow you to record.
    • Room activity only will not allow recordings.
  5. Type in a Virtual classroom name for your BBB session
  6. Choose the preferred settings associated with this room.  Some key settings include setting the moderator, scheduling the session dates, and making the session visible.  The screen shot below shows a portion of the BBB settings window where participant roles can be selected and assigned. By default all users enrolled in the course are set to enter as viewers and the owner is set to enter as a moderator. Participants can be added to the room/activity based on their assigned roles in culearn or by individual enrolled user.
  7. Click Save and return to course. You should now have a virtual BigBlueButtonBN room setup in your course.

Configuring Your Computer for BigBlueButton

Once a BBB session is set up in your course, you can launch it by clicking the name of the BBB session you set up.  When you launch the BBB session, you will be asked to configure your audio and microphone settings for the session.

To configure your audio and microphone settings for BBB:

  1. Click Join Session.
  2. Choose whether to participate by using a microphone or to listen only.      
  3. Test your audio by speaking a few words and listening for the sound of your voice in your headset. See the screen shot below for a visual of the audio test window.
  4. Click Yes if the audio test has been successful (i.e. you were able to hear yourself speak through the headset speakers).  See the screen image below for a visual of the Audio Test window.  If your audio test was not successful, check that you have selected the appropriate microphone, and check that your microphone is plugged in correctly.

NOTE: You want to make sure that your students perform an audio test as well. Testing the microphone and audio ensures that you and your students have working equipment that allows participation in the BBB session. Watch the video for more information about setting up audio.

TIP: It is preferable for students to join the session with headphones/microphones as this allows students to participate fully in the session; however, users can phone-in to access audio portion of the BBB session if they are unable to connect online.  BBB will display a phone number for dial-in access to the session.  See the screen shot below for the message you will see regarding dial-in phone access for participants. If students call in to the session, they will be able to hear the session and participate orally in the session, but they will not be able to see what is on the screen or in the chat windows.The image provides the information how to join a session via the phone call.

Managing Your Session

The screenshot below provides a visual of the BBB default session layout.

  • The User List / Chat Toggle Area shows the list of the users that joined the BBB session. Use this area to access the Shared Notes and Public Chat. User List Toggle icon hides/unhides the user list and public chat. See the screen shot below for a close up image of the toolbar.

  • Session Title shows the current session title and Start/Stop Record toolbar has the access to the recording button. Moderators can use the recording button to record BBB session.

  • Use Settings menu on the top right-hand side to log out of the meeting or end it.

  • Presenter/Moderator Actions button allows to upload a presentation, initiate the poll or set up the breakout rooms. The uploaded slides will be projected in presentation window.

  • Use Microphone, Audio, Webcam and Screen share toolbar to turn on or turn off your microphone, audio or a webcam or share a screen. The buttons on the toolbar perform the functions indicated in the list below (matching the toolbar buttons from left to right):
    Microphone button: Use this button to mute and unmute your headphone’s microphone during the BBB session.
    Audio button: This button turns audio input on and off.
    Video button: Use this button to control the BBB webcam recording. This button turns video on and off.
    Desktop Sharing button: Use this button to broadcast your desktop for all users to see.

Recording a Session

To record a session in BBB:

  1. Click the Start recording button located at the top of the Presentation window.

  1. Click Yes in Start recording conformation window.
  2. You will know that the session is being recorded by the indicators of the red circle and running time.

You can pause the recording any time during the session and re-start the recording again. The recorded session will contain all the recorded instances in one recorded video link.

Using Polls in BBB

To create a poll in your BBB session:

  1. Click the Plus button located at the bottom of the Presentation pod window.
  2. Click Start a poll.
  3. Select the type of poll you would like to use.  You can use preset poll types, such as true/false or 4 answer multiple choice polls, or you can create a custom poll.  See the screen shot for a visual of the poll type selection menu that appears when you create a poll.

  1. Create your poll questions.
  2. Prompt participants to answer the poll.
  3. When all or most participants have answered the poll, click Publish polling results and the poll totals will display in the session. See the screen shot for a visual of the Live Poll Results window with the Publish button.

Annotating a Presentation

Annotation tools allow the moderator to highlight and annotate the slides in the presentation window.  The annotation toolbar is visible in the Presenter view on the right-hand side of the presentation window.

NOTE: Only the session moderator is able to annotate the presentation. You can allow participants to annotate the presentation by changing their role in the session.  See the screen shot below for a close up of the annotation tools with an explanation of each tool’s function.

Annotation tools and their functions are explained in the list below:

  •  The hand button allows the moderator to pan and zoom in the presentation.
  • The pencil button, square icon button, triangle icon button,circle icon button, diagonal line icon button, and T icon button allow the moderator to mark and annotate the presentation.

  •  The small circle button allows the moderator to select different line widths for the annotations.
  •  The rectangular box icon allows the moderator to select a colour.
  • The backward arrow button is an undo button that removes the most recent annotation.
  • The trash bin button clears all the annotations added to the presentation.
  • The rectangular box icon with a curved line turns on the multi-user whiteboard on.

Navigating the Presentation

The presentation progress buttons at the bottom of the Presentation window allow the moderator to move through the presentation.

  • The forward arrow advances the slides.
  • The backward arrow moves the slides backward.

  •  The Slide button in the middle displays the current slide and allows to select and go to any slide in the presentation.

Using Hotkeys in Your Presentation

The Hotkeys button can accessed through the Settings Menu on the top right hand corner of the BBB window.  See the screen shot below for a visual of the Hotkeys button.

When you click on the Hotkeys button, a table of shortcuts and their functions appears. These Hotkeys are tools that will help you manage your presentation more smoothly.  See the screen shot below for a visual of the Hotkeys table and their functions.

Student Support and Best Practices

  • Encourage users to connect with Chrome or Firefox browsers
  • Encourage users to use a headset and microphone, not their laptop/computer microphone
  • Open the session early
  • Send participants directions and reminders ahead of time
  • 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

Video Tutorials for BigBlueButton  

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