As you may know, we are big fans of open-source here at Enovation and we are proud to partner with Blindside Networks, the creator of the open-source web conferencing system BigBlueButton (BBB), designed for online learning. BBB is designed to offer a virtual learning classroom within Moodle and Totara.
The power of BBB lies in its capabilities, it supports real-time sharing of slides, audio, video, chat, and desktops. It also offers online classroom tools such as the whiteboard mark-up for annotating presentations in real-time. BBB also records all content for later playback for students who may have missed a class.
What Differentiates BigBlueButton from other providers?
BigBlueButton focus on three main areas of differentiation:
- Integration: The BigBlueButtonBN integration is the deepest of any LMS
- Engagement: BBB extends the core capabilities to focus on enabling the instructor to engage students using multi-user whiteboard, breakout rooms and shared notes
- Analytics: BBB provides a detailed report to the instructor after each recorded session
Feature Focus: What’s New in BigBlueButton 2.4
This article covers the new features in BigBlueButton 2.4
BigBlueButton is designed to help teachers hold effective online classes. It achieves this through offering deep integration with the LMS, multiple ways to engage students for teaching and learning (such as polling and breakout rooms), and analytics.
This new release implements may request usability enhancements from teachers (see below) and features the Learning Analytics Dashboard — a dashboard that gives teachers live analytics on attendance, participation, and learning (based on responses to polls) during the online class.
For an overview of the new features, see the video below.
Note: In BigBlueButton, the teacher has the role of moderator and students have the role of the viewer.
Extend the duration of ongoing breakout rooms
When creating breakout rooms, moderators can now extend the time duration of breakout rooms.
To extend the duration, select the ‘+’ button at the bottom of the breakout room panel.
Selecting the ‘+’ icon will show a field that lets you extend the duration (minimum of 5 minutes).
Select the ‘Extend’ button to add the time to the duration. The screenshot below shows an extra 5 minutes have been added.
Personalize breakout room names
You can now personalise the name of each breakout room when creating them. Select the default breakout room names (such as ‘Room 1’) to change them.
In the screenshot below, the moderator has changed the default ‘Room 1’ name to ‘Group A’.
You start the breakout rooms, you’ll see your names in the Breakout Room panel.
Reduced mirror effect when sharing screen
Previously, when sharing the screen, BigBlueButton showed the presenter a view of the shared screen that every else sees.
However, when sharing a screen with a single monitor, this view would sometimes have a mirror effect. We have made the view smaller so there is no mirror effect.
Moderator messages in the public chat are easier to distinguish
To make it easier for students to see messages from the teacher, BigBlueButton now shows moderator messages in bold text.
The screenshot below shows the instructor’s messages in bold.
Webcam background blur
Users can now choose to apply a background blur (or background image) to their webcam stream for increased privacy.
When sharing a webcam, BigBlueButton shows a list of virtual background options
- None (shown with an ‘x’, this is the default)
- Virtual background image (a choice of three images)
The screenshot below shows the user selecting one of the background images.
Improved Layout Manager
Under the Settings menu, there is a new set of options for Layout type. A dropdown allows for the selection of one of the following:
- Custom – This default is the same behaviour as the previous version, which lets you drag the webcams to the top/bottom and left/right of the presentation,
- Smart Layout – webcams automatically move to maximize the size of the presentation,
- Focus on presentation – webcams move under the chat, and
- Focus on video – presentation moves under the chat.
The screenshot below shows the layout changes after choosing Focus on Presentation. Notice the webcams have moved under the chat, giving maximum space to the presentation.
For moderators, there is an extra set of options to “push” that layout to all other users in the session (the same effect as each user manually choosing the pushed layout from their Settings option).
The moderator has an extra set of options for Layout Type.
- Custom (push layout to all)
- Smart Layout (push layout to all)
- Focus on presentation (push layout to all)
- Focus on video (push layout to all)
For example, selecting Focus on video (push layout to all) would change the layout of all viewers to ‘Focus on video’ (same effect as if they had selected that option themselves).
To enable your users to respond to polls anonymously, BigBlueButton now supports anonymous polling.
As the presenter, before starting a poll, you can enable Anonymous Poll (shown below).
When you then click Start Poll, the polling question will indicate to users their answers will not be visible to the presenter.
As a presenter, as the polling results are available, you will see a summary of responses but not who responded.
Indicate who is sharing the webcam
BigBlueButton now indicates in the Users list who is sharing their webcam with the label Webcam.
This is helpful when webcam pagination is active (you see a subset of available webcams with the ability to page left/right) to indicate who is sharing their webcam.
Learning Analytics Dashboard
The Learning Dashboard gives moderators a live view (updated every 10 seconds) of user analytics in the online class.
These analytics help you answer the following questions.
- Who is in the class?
- Are students participating?
- Are students learning (based on responses to polling questions)?
Specifically, the Learning Dashboard shows the information on
- When they joined the session
- How long they have been in the session
- Current status (online/offline)
- Total time talking
- Time-sharing their webcam
- How many messages, emojis, and raise hand events
- Response to all polls
Moderators can launch the Learning Dashboard by selecting Learning Dashboard under the gear icon.
The Learning Dashboard opens in its own window and automatically update every 10 seconds. The screenshot below shows (3) participants, two (2) polls, one raise hand, and each viewer’s individual participation as Activity Score.
The Activity Score is a relative score of five metrics: talking, chatting, responding polls, using emojis, and raising hands (each worth 2 points).
For example, the viewer who is the most active talker will get the full 2 points for talking, while all other viewers will get a relative score based on their talking time.
The tabs Active Participants, Polls, Raise Hand, and Activity Score is all clickable.
- Active Participants – summary of all viewers’ attendance and participation.
- Polls – summary of all poll responses for each user (except for anonymous polls)
- Raise Hand – timeline view of when students raised their hand (or use another emoji)
- Activity Score – same view as Active Participants, but sorted by activity score. You can click on the ACTIVITY SCORE header to sort ascending/descending.
Moderators do not get assigned an activity score as doing so would skew the table (the teacher invariably talks the most during the class :-).
The screenshot below shows shows the Raise Hand view. Here, Alex raised his hand once, and Cindy has set her status to Happy and had also raised her hand.
The screenshot below shows the Polls view. Here, you can see each user’s response to polls.
When you are covering material in class and ask users questions on the content using polling, the Polls view will let you quickly review their answers to see if the class (or individual students) are learning the content.
Note: To account for anonymous polling, the last line Anonymous will show users that responded (but not their individual response).
(coming soon) These two features are not yet visible in our default recording formats.
When viewing a recording, the poll results are now included in the public chat of the recording.
When sharing a recording, the link to the recording is now visible in the public chat of the recording.
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