By Elspeth McCulloch, EDC Educational Technology Development Coordinator

BigBlueButton is a tool that you can use for student conferences, office hours, exam review and presentations. But if you thought you knew BigBlueButton, it might be time to take another look. The recent updates improve the interface, functionality and overall user experience. Here are just a few of the improvements:

Interface enhancements
Conferences includes several enhancements to improve the user experience. The conferences interface has been updated with a brighter design and modern icons, which render as a font to provide better support for higher resolution monitors. Additionally, the menu bar buttons have been simplified and grouped together for easier access.

Screenshot of welcome screen on BBB

Presentation downloads
When adding files to a presentation, presenters can choose to let students download the presentation. By default, this option is disabled. When enabled, the download icon is included in the bottom of the presentation window.

Screenshot of BBB presentation download option

Promote viewer to moderator
In the user settings, a presenter can promote a viewer to be a moderator at any time. Presenters can also change a moderator’s status back to a conference viewer.

Screenshot of BBB option to promote viewer to moderator

Public chat downloads
In the chat window, the options tab allows users to download the chat transcript as a text (.txt) file. Users can also copy the chat contents and clear the public chat history. Clearing the chat history cannot be undone.

Screenshot of BBB chat download option

End meeting on logout
When logging out of a conference, moderators can choose to log out and end the meeting at the same time. Ending the meeting will remove all users from the conference and start to process the recording (if applicable).

Note: Canvas will currently still show the meeting as “In Progress” and allow others to join. If a new user joins the conference, a new meeting with the same name will be created. Clicking the “End” button on the conferences page will conclude the conference and make it inaccessible for others join.

Screenshot of BBB logout

Full screen mode
Conferences provides a full screen mode, which allows moderators to display presentations in a full screen window. This update is helpful to users who may present the conference on a separate screen and want to display the content in a maximum presentation size.

Screenshot of BBB option for full screen mode

Multiuser whiteboard
The multiuser whiteboard feature helps users engage in the presentation. This feature can also benefit users participating in a tutoring session or study group.

The presenter can enable the multiuser whiteboard at the bottom of the presentation toolbar. When enabled, users can view the toolbar options and contribute to the whiteboard. The name of each user displays next to the user’s cursor. Additionally, each user has a separate layer in the whiteboard and cannot affect another user’s whiteboard (including clearing annotations).

The presenter can disable the multiuser whiteboard at any time. Once the multiuser whiteboard is disabled, the presenter can click the “Clear” button to remove all annotations from the whiteboard.

As an additional enhancement to the whiteboard, shapes drawn with the pen tool are smoothed automatically.

Screenshot of BBB multiuser whiteboard

Shared notes
The shared notes feature allows all users to collaborate during the presentation. Shared notes are accessed via the shared notes layout. Notes are not recorded as part of a presentation.

In the shared notes window, users can view when another user is typing in the notes window. The “Undo/Redo” icons undo or redo content for the last user who contributed to the notes. Shared notes supports a text toolbar for content formatting that can be opened and closed using the “Text” icon. Before the session ends, users can also download notes as formatted text (.html) or plain text (.txt).

Moderators can manage settings for the shared notes to create up to two additional note windows. These additional windows are separate shared documents, and they display to users as a popout window regardless of their layout. Users can reposition the additional note windows anywhere in their browser window. The notes window can also be minimized to the bottom of the browser window.

Moderators can also clear all note content for all users. Clearing content cannot be undone.

Screenshot of BBB shared notes feature

BigBlueButton training

If you would like to learn more about BigBlueButton and these exciting new enhancements, register for our next training session and join us online.