1. Minimum requirements for connecting to BigBlueButton
    1. Computer Recommendations
    2. Browser Recommendations
    3. Audio Recommendations
    4. Bandwidth Recommendations
    5. Mobile Device Recommendations
  2. Student Support and Best Practices
  3. Adding a BigBlueButton Session to Your cuLearn Course
    1. Restricting Access to Your BBB Session
  4. Launching and Configuring Your BigBlueButton Session
  5. Roles in BigBlueButton
  6. Managing a BBB Session
    1. Managing Viewers Audio (Mute/Unmute)
    2. Locking Viewers
    3. Assigning Presenters
    4. Creating Breakout Rooms
    5. Closed Captioning
    6. Ending Meetings
    7. Additional Recommendations for Moderator/Presenters
  7. Navigating Your Session
    1. User List/Messages/Notes Toggle Menu
  8. Using Polls in Your BBB Session
  9. Uploading Presentations in Your BBB session
    1. Navigating the Presentation
    2. Using Hotkeys in Your Presentation
    3. Annotating a Presentation
  10. Recording a Session
  11. Setting a Status/Emoji
  12. Adding Guests to a BBB Session
  13. 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 within cuLearn. BigBlueButton is easy to use and fully supported at Carleton University. It is simple to set up a BBB session in cuLearn where you can interact with students, upload presentations, and record your session for later viewing.

BigBlueButton features include:

  • an interactive meeting room with audio, video, presentation and whiteboard capabilities that allows students to be fully engaged in the online environment
  • user authentication so each course can have its own private and secure room accessible to students from within cuLearn 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 cuLearn

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.

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.

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.

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.

To add a BBB session:

  1. Log in to cuLearn using your MyCarletonOne credentials.
  2. Click on your course link.
  3. Go to the topic section where you would like to add the BBB session.
  4. In the Add an activity drop-down menu, select BigBlueButtonBN (See the screen shot below)
    • NOTE: If you are unable to see the Add an Activity menu, your course editing may be turned off. To turn on course editing, click the settings gear on the top-right side of your course page, and select Turn editing on from the drop-down menu.
  5. Select one of the following instance types for your session:
    • Room activity with recordings will allow you to access a BBB session room that you can use to communicate with students and record your meetings for later viewing.
    • Room activity only will allow you to access a BBB session room that you can use to communicate with students without the option to record for later viewing.
    • Recordings only will allow you to access recorded BBB sessions.
  6. Enter a Virtual classroom name for your BBB session
  7. Customize the settings options for your session, including the following:
    • Activity/Room 
      • You have the option to add a personalized welcome message for your session.
      • You can select Wait for Moderator if you want to prevent viewers from entering the session before the moderator who is managing the session.
    • Participant 
      • By default, all course members are enrolled in a BBB session. You can customize your BBB session enrolment by adding participants and setting their role as either a viewer (typically students) or moderator (typically instructor or TA).
      • NOTE: As an instructor you are the moderator by default. For information on the session permissions for viewers and moderators, see Roles in BigBlueButton
    • Schedule for Session 
      • By default, BBB sessions can be joined at any time. If you want to set your BBB session to be accessible during a specific time frame, enable open and close dates for your session.                                                                    
  8. Once you are finished customizing your settings, click Save and return to course. You should now see a link to your BBB session on your main course page (See example below).                                                               

Restricting Access to Your BBB Session

If you want to set up a private BBB session, you have the option to restrict access to the session link so that only a specific student or group can access it from their course page.

To Restrict Access to a Student

  1. On your course homepage, go to your BBB Session link or add a new session.
  2. To the right of your BBB session link, click Edit.
  3. In the drop-down menu, select Edit Settings.
    •  NOTE: When you add a new session through the Add an Activity drop-down menu, you will automatically be taken to the settings page.                                                                                  
  4. Scroll down to the Restrict Access tab.
  5. Click Add Access Restriction…                                              
  6. In the pop-up window, select User Profile.
  7. Under the User Profile Field, set the following information:
    1. In the Choose… drop-down menu, select email address. 
      • NOTE: DO NOT select Student ID Number, as this can cause an error in cuLearn.
    2. In the text field, type the student’s Carleton email address. 
      • NOTE: Leave the other drop-down menus to the default selections of must or is equal to.          
  8. To the left of the user profile field, click the eyeball icon to hide the BBB session link from all other users enrolled in the course (it will appear crossed out as in the screenshot above).
  9. Click Save and Display.

Your BBB session link will now only be visible to the student you have added the restriction for.

To Restrict Access to a Group

  1. On your course homepage, go to your BBB Session link or add a new session.
  2. To the right of your BBB session link, click Edit.
  3. In the drop-down menu, select Edit Settings.
    •  NOTE: When you add a new session through the Add an Activity drop-down menu, you will automatically be taken to the settings page.                                                                                  
  4. Scroll down to the Restrict Access tab.
  5. Click Add Access Restriction…                                              
  6. In the pop-up window, select Group.
  7. In the Choose… drop-down menu, select a group.
  8. To the left of group, click the eyeball icon to hide the BBB session link from all other users enrolled in the course (it will appear crossed out as in the screenshot above).
  9. Click Save and Display.

Your BBB session link will now only be visible to the students in the group you have added the restriction for.

Launching and Configuring Your BigBlueButton Session

BigBlueButton sessions are launched within your cuLearn 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 your audio/microphone settings and begin your meeting.

To launch and configure your BBB session:

  1. Log in to cuLearn and click on your course.
  2. 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                                        
  3. Click Join Session.                                                                   
  4. Choose whether to participate by using a microphone or listen only.   NOTE: As the session moderator, you should select microphone if you will be speaking during your meeting.                                                     
  5. 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.                                                           
  6. Click Yes if the audio test has been successful (i.e. you were able to hear yourself speak through the headset speakers).  If your audio test was not successful, check that you have selected the appropriate microphone, and that your microphone is plugged in correctly.

You are now successfully setup to begin your BBB session.

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 can successfully participate in the BBB session. Refer to the video tutorial 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 the 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. 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.

Roles in BigBlueButton

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

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

Managing a BBB Session

Managing Viewers Audio (Mute/Unmute)

Moderators can manage viewers audio by muting all users or muting individual users in the Users list on the left side of the session window.

If you do not see the User list, you need to expand it by clicking the toggle icon at the top left side of the page

To mute all users

  1. Next to the Users List on the left side of your session window, click the Gear icon.                                  
  2. In the drop-down menu, select one of the following options:
    • Mute all users – Mute all users in your meeting, including presenters. Any users who join after this setting has been enabled will be automatically muted.
      • NOTE: Applying the mute settings to users via the users list does not restrict their ability to unmute themselves.
    • Mute all users except presenter – Mute all users in your meeting except the individual with presenter status.
      • NOTE: Moderators will also be muted but can unmute themselves at any time.

To unmute all users

  1. Next to the Users List on the left side of your session window, click the Gear icon.
  2. In the drop-down menu, select Turn off meeting mute.                                                 

To mute an individual user

  1. In the Users List on the left side of your session window, click the name of the user you want to mute.
  2. In the drop-down menu, select Mute User.
    • NOTE: Even when muted, the user can still unmute themselves.

Locking Viewers

Moderators can lock viewers to prevent them from accessing various features within BBB, including the public chat, microphone sharing, webcam sharing, and shared notes. Below you’ll find examples of situations where you may want to lock your viewers:

  • Lock the private chat to encourage verbal/microphone participation
  • Lock the ability to share webcams to encourage the viewers to focus on the presentation content
  • Lock shared notes so that only moderators can view them

To lock all viewers

  1. On the left side of your session window, click the Gear icon next to the Users List.
  2. In the drop-down menu, select Lock viewers.        
  3. In the Lock viewers window, select the feature(s) you would like to lock.  Once you have locked a feature, it’s status button will turn red (see screenshot below).            
  4. When you have finished customizing your lock settings, click Apply.

To unlock all viewers, follow the same steps for locking your viewers above and click the status buttons to unlock features. 

To lock/unlock an individual viewer

  1. In the Users List on the left side of your session window, click the name of the user you want to lock.                       
  2. In the drop-down menu, select Lock User.
    • NOTE: Once users have been locked, the Users List will display this beneath their names. You can unlock them by click on their name, and selecting unlock.                    

Assigning Presenters

As a moderator, you can assign a viewer the role of a Presenter to allow them to control the presentation area.  A 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. Once the presenter has finished their presentation, you can easily take back presenter status to regain control of the presentation area.

To Assign a Presenter Role:

  1. Go to the Users list on the left side of your session window.
  2. Click on the name of the user you would like to assign as a presenter (See example below).
  3. In the drop-down menu, select Make Presenter.                                                              

To Take Back Presenter Status:

  1. Click on your name in the Users List or the blue + icon at the bottom of your session window.
  2. In the drop-down menu, select Take Presenter Role.

Creating Breakout Rooms

You can launch breakout rooms during your BBB session to facilitate small group discussions and student collaboration. Breakout rooms can be created and managed from your main session window.

To Create a Breakout Room:

  1. Launch your BBB session and go to the User’s List on the left side of your session window.
    • NOTE: If you do not see the User list, you need to expand it by clicking the toggle icon at the top left side of the page
  2. To the right of the Users List, click the Gear icon.
  3. In the drop-down menu, select Create breakout rooms.            
  4. On the Breakout Rooms page, enter the following information:
    • Select the number of rooms from the drop-down menu.
    • Enter the duration (minutes).
    • Assign your session participants to a breakout room in one of the following ways:
      • To manually assign participants to a room, drag and drop users’ names from the not assigned field to a room number.
      • To randomly assign participants to a room, click Randomly assign.
        • NOTE: Your session participants will be prompted to select a breakout room from a drop-down menu.
      • To allow participants to choose their own break out room, select the Allow users to choose a breakout room to join checkbox.              
  5. Click Create to instantly launch the breakout rooms.

A new breakout room window will automatically open with the “breakout room time remaining” displayed at the top of the window (see image below). 

Managing Breakout Rooms 

As a moderator, you can manage your breakout rooms from the Breakout Rooms control panel in your main session window. Once you’ve created a breakout room, the control panel will automatically appear above the User’s List on the left side of your screen.   This is where you can access an overview of all breakout rooms, including the names and number of participants in each room. You also have the following capabilities as a moderator:

  • Join Room – Select this option to instantly join a breakout room. You will be prompted to join the audio for the room you have selected.
  • End all breakout rooms 

Closed Captioning

Moderators can use the live closed captioning feature to allow students with audio accessibility barriers to engage in the BBB session. You can also export your captions and save them to your computer.

NOTE: This is not an auto capture feature so manual text input is required.

To access Closed Captioning: 

  1. Launch your BBB session and go to the User’s List on the left side of your session window.
    • NOTE: If you do not see the User list, you need to expand it by clicking the toggle icon at the top left side of the page
  2. To the right of the Users List, click the Gear icon.                            
  3. In the drop-down menu, select Write closed captions.
  4. In the Closed captions pop-up window, select a language for closed captions within your session (English is selected by default).            
  5. Click Start.
  6. A Captions editor will open in the menu on the left side of your screen (see screenshot below).  Type your captions in the text area.                   
  7. To enable live captioning during your session, click the Closed Captioning (CC) icon at the bottom of the presentation area. You will be prompted to customize the text colour, background colour, font style, and font size for your captions.    
  8. When you have finished customizing the appearance of your closed captions, click Start. Your closed captions will now appear live in the presentation area as you type them in the Captions editor (See example “Welcome” text below).    

NOTE: Your Closed Captions (CC) icon will appear blue while live captioning is enabled (See screenshot above). Click the icon to disable live captioning at any time.

To export Closed Captions:

  1. Open your Captions editor on the left side of your session window.
  2. Click the import/export icon (reverse arrows) at the top of the text editor.
  3. Select one of the following document format options for your exported file:
    • HTML
    • Plain text

Your .html or .txt file will automatically begin downloading to your computer

Ending Meetings

Only moderators can end a BBB session for all viewers.

To end your meeting:

  1. Click the settings menu (see image below) on the top-right side of your session window.  
  2. In the drop-down menu, select End Meeting.
  3. You will be prompted with the message “are you sure you want to end this meeting” , then click Yes.

You will automatically be taken back to your BBB page in cuLearn where you first joined the session. If you recorded your session you will now be able to access your recordings in cuLearn.   

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:

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.

Navigating Your Session

The screenshot below provides a visual of the BBB default session layout, which includes the User List/Messages/Notes toggle menu, the presenter/moderator actions button, the settings menu, the stop/start record button, and the Microphone, Audio, Webcam, and Screen share toolbar.

User List/Messages/Notes Toggle Menu

On the left side of your session window is the User List/Chat Toggle Menu. You can hide or unhide this menu using the toggle icon (see image below). From this menu you can access Messages (Public and Private chat), Shared Notes, and a User’s List.

Messages (Public and Private Chat)

Under Messages you can access the public and private chat areas.

  • Public Chat – A chat window accessible to all BBB session participants.  To send a public message:
    1. Click Public Chat under Messages.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
    2. Type your message in the Send message to public chat field, then click the blue send icon   
      • NOTE: You can save, copy, or clear all public chat messages through the settings menu on the top-right side of the chat area.                                                                     
  • Private Chat – You can chat privately with any viewer in your session. To start a private chat:
    1. Click on the name of a session participant in the Users List (see image below).
    2. In the drop-down menu, select Chat.
    3. Type a message in the Message field and click the blue send icon (see image below).         
      • NOTE: You can minimize (<) or exit (x) a private chat using the icons circled in the image above.

Shared Notes

A space for sharing text notes with all BBB session participants.                     

You can format shared notes using the text editor (bold, italic, underline, etc.) and download the notepad using the import/export button (circled in red in the image below):

Users List

A list of all users (viewer and moderators) that have joined your BBB session. If you click on a User’s name, you have the option to start a private chat, promote the user presenter status, remove a user from the session, or remove presenter status. You can also set a status emoji to indicate your status to your session participants.

Session Title and Start/Stop Record button

At the top of your Session window is the Session Title and the Start/Stop Record button.

Settings Menu

On the top-right side of the session window is the Settings menu. From this drop-down menu, you can make your session fullscreen, logout, end your meeting, use hotkeys, or access any of the settings shown in the screenshot below:

Presenter/Moderator Actions button

By clicking the presenter/moderator actions button on the lower-left side of the presentation window, you can do the following:

Microphone, Audio, Webcam and Screen share toolbar

At the bottom of your screen is a toolbar where you can enable/disable your microphone, audio or a webcam, or share your screen.

The toolbar icons perform the functions indicated in the list below (matching the toolbar icons 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.

Using Polls in Your BBB Session

To create a poll in your BBB session:

  1. Click the Plus button located at the bottom of the session 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.
  4. Create your poll questions.
  5. Prompt participants to answer the poll.
  6. 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.

Uploading Presentations in Your BBB session

To upload a presentation (powerpoint, etc.) to your BBB session:

  1. Click the Plus button located at the bottom of the session window.
  2. Click Upload a Presentation.                                                                                                                                   
    • NOTE: Your slides will automatically be converted to a PDF once uploaded into BBB, but we recommend converting your presentation to a pdf before you upload to ensure your pdf slides are formatted the way you want.
  3. Click browse for files or drag and drop your presentation file into the upload area (see image below).             
  4. Once your file has finished uploading, click Confirm.

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 menu in the middle displays your current slide and allows you to jump to any slide in the presentation.

Using Hotkeys in Your Presentation

Hotkeys are keyboard shortcuts that will help you manage your presentation more smoothly. Hotkeys can be accessed through the Settings Menu on the top right hand corner of the BBB window (See image below)

When you click on the Hotkeys button, a table of shortcuts and their functions appears (See image below).

Annotating a Presentation

Annotation tools allow the moderator to highlight and annotate slides in the presentation window.  The annotation toolbar is located 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 to presenter.

See the screen shot below for a close up of the annotation tools:

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

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

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

Recording a Session

To record a session in BBB:

  1. Click the Start recording button located at the top of the Presentation window.                        
  2. In the Start recording confirmation window, click Yes
  3. You will know that the session is being recorded by the indicators of the red circle and running time.          
    • NOTE: 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.
  4. When you are finished your meeting, select End Meeting from the Settings drop-down menu on the top-right side of your presentation window to stop the recording.                                                                                               

To access your BBB recording in cuLearn:

  1. Return to your BigBlueButton page in cuLearn where you first joined the session. To access your BigBlueButton session page in cuLearn:
    1. Login to cuLearn and click on your course.
    2. On your main course page, click the link to your BBB session. You will be taken to a page where you can access an overview of your session progress and join/end your current session.
  2. Click End Session.                                                                    
  3. Your recording will automatically appear under the Recordings heading (see image below).   NOTE: Longer recordings may take a few seconds to load.
  4. Under Playback, click video or presentation to view your recorded session.
    • TIP: You can click statistics to access an overview of your session, a breakdown of student engagement during your session, poll results, etc. You can also download a CSV. file of your session statistics.

NOTE: Students will automatically be able to view the recording when they click on the BBB session link on your cuLearn course page.  To make your recording private, click the lock icon under the Toolbar.

Setting a Status/Emoji

You can use an emoji to indicate your status to your session participants.  For example, you can indicate that you are away from the computer, happy, confused, or need assistance.

To set a status:

  1. Select your user icon (name) in the User List.      
    • NOTE: If you do not see the User list, you need to expand it by clicking the toggle icon at the top-left side of the page
  2. Select Set status.
  3. In the drop-down menu, select one of the emoji options (see image below).  

The emoji will appearing your Use List icon (see example below of a “happy” emoji)

To Clear your status:

  1. Select your user icon (name) in the User List.
  2. In the drop-down menu, select Clear status.                           

Adding Guests to a BBB Session

If you want to add a guest to your BBB session who is not enrolled in your cuLearn course, you can send them an invitation link to your meeting via email.

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.       

Video Tutorials for BigBlueButton  

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