BigBlueButton: Guide for teachers
BigBlueButton (BBB) is a free and open source software for video conferencing.
BBB can be used directly via a TeachCenter course. The TeachCenter support can create a BBB activity in a course for you.
Before the meeting
To use BBB in your TC course, please contact the support team and ask us to create a BigBlueButton activity in your TeachCenter course.
You can then edit the activity as you like, rename or move it. To do this, turn on the editing mode in your course at the top right.
You can reuse this BBB activity for the next sessions as well.
By default, your BBB room is set up as a room/activity with recordings. You can record the conference and it will then be automatically uploaded to TUbe (see section about Recording).
In General, you can assign a name and description, as with any TeachCenter activity.
In Room Settings, you can define whether students need to wait for a moderator before they can join the meeting. If you deactivate Wait for Moderator, you should set a welcome text for students.
You can also specify here that all participants are muted when they join.
If you want to record your meeting later, make sure to check the box "Session may be recorded".
In Lock Settings, you can revoke certain rights before the meeting instead of revoking them later during the meeting (see Lection Locking participant rights).
These settings are particularly useful for exams. For example, you can revoke the right for participants to see each other.
By default, all teachers in a TC course have moderator rights in the BBB meeting; students and tutors are only viewers. If you want to change these rights, you can do so in the Participants section. You can define roles for the following groups:
- All registered participants
- Participants with a specific role in the course, e.g. all students
- Single users
Additionally, you can assign the presenter role to viewers in a running BBB meeting. This allows participants to switch between slides and use different tools.
Use the Session timing to set a start and end time between which students can join the conference. Outside of these times, students will only see the activity on the course home page, but will not be able to join.
Always define both times so that rooms are not left open, consuming server resources.
In the sections Common module settings and Restrict access, further settings of the BBB activity can be defined. These are, for example, availability of the activity on the course home page and group mode.
Always leave the group mode of a BBB activity on No groups. Otherwise there may be issues accessing the meeting as participants are now allowed to see each other.
Conducting a meeting with BigBlueButton
- On the course home page, click on the BBB activity.
- Click on Join session If this button is missing or greyed out, you may be outside the predefined time period (see Meeting Settings), or you may have to wait for a moderator to open the meeting.
- You will be asked if you want to join with microphone or audio only. For participants with microphone, there is an echo test before joining the conference.
By default, students can join the meeting whenever it is open.
If you want to avoid disruptions during the meeting or want to prepare something and then have students all join at once, you can select "Ask moderator" in the menu next to the list of participants - manage guest access.
This way, students who join later enter a waiting room and have to be let into the meeting by a moderator.
The setting "always deny" means that no one can join the meeting from this point on. We recommend using "ask moderator" instead. Otherwise, students who drop out of the meeting for technical reasons cannot rejoin.
On the one hand, you can already set and revoke certain participant rights before the start of the meeting (see section "Before the meeting").
During a meeting, any moderator can set the rights of participants on the left side of the screen, in the participant list, by clicking on the gear symbol and clicking on Lock viewers:
The following rights can be granted and revoked:
- Share webcam
- See other people‘s webcams
- Share microphone
- Send public chat messages
- Send private chat messages
- Edit shared notes
- See other viewers in the users list
By default, everything is allowed. During exams, it may be necessary to revoke some of these permissions.
You can switch your video and audio on and off via the menu bar at the bottom centre.^
- By clicking the microphone button on the very left, you can turn your microphone on and off.
- The button with the speaker takes you to the audio settings. Here you can reselect or change the input source.
- By clicking the button with the camera icon you can turn your webcam on and off. This button also takes you to the webcam settings (e.g. virtual backgrounds) and allows you to switch between webcams. BigBlueButton allows you to use several webcams (e.g. a webcam and a document camera).
- Click the button with the screen on the very right to share your screen or stop sharing.
In BigBlueButton, you can upload a document in advance instead of sharing your screen. This feature is particularly useful if you want to annotate the document.
To upload your presentation or document, click the plus icon in the bottom left corner of the default classroom presentation, then choose Manage Presentations.
Office documents (.ppt, .pptx, .odp etc.) without animations and PDF files are supported.
When uploading files, you can specify whether students are also allowed to download the slides (without annotations) by clicking and unlocking the download icon (green means download is allowed).
Only the main session can be recorded. Breakout rooms cannot be recorded. To record, "Room/activity with recordings" must be chosen in the main settings and the checkbox "meeting may be recorded" must be ticked.
- You need to start the recording of audio and video manually directly in the BBB meeting. To do so, click Start recording. Confirm in the window that appears. You can pause the recording by clicking on the corresponding button.
- The recording does not need to be stopped; it stops automatically when you leave the conference.
- The recording is automatically converted and transferred to your TUbe series after the conference ends. This may take up to 48 hours on weekdays or longer during holidays.
- The recording is available to students later in your TUbe series and can be managed via TUbeDrop.
If you only want to make a recording (a screencast), we recommend using the TUbe Recorder instead.
If you are only making a test recording, please contact the TeachCenter support if it does not appear on TUbe. Very short recordings might not be converted and sorted out.
When you click Shared notes above the participants list, a box for taking notes appears to the right instead of the chat. In the bar at the top you have several options to format the text or to edit it.^
These notes will NOT be saved automatically when you exit! If you want to keep the notes at the end of the online conference , you can download them with the button on the far right of the toolbar.
BigBlueButton has a public chat for all participants (unless their right to use the public chat has been revoked).
To write a private chat message, click on the person with whom you want chat.
In the public chat, your welcome message will be displayed if you have set one in the BBB activity settings.
The chat history is not automatically saved when you exit, but can be exported via the menu.
In BBB, you can create up to 16 breakout rooms, e.g. for group work.
Create Breakout Rooms
To create BRs, open the Manage users menu and select Create breakout rooms.
You can then specify the number of rooms and for how many minutes the rooms should be available.
After that, you can use drag & drop to assign participants to the created rooms, randomly assign participants, or allow them to choose a room themselves.
After creating these BRs, all participants will receive a message that they have been moved and will have to join the session manually by clicking Join room. The new BBB session opens in a new tab of the browser.
Students in each breakout session can upload presentations, use the whiteboard, or write in the chat. However, recordings do not work in these BRs. The time remaining for the session is displayed at the top of the screen.
Moderation of Breakout Rooms
Moderators of the original session can switch between the BRs as they wish. Moderators now see another menu in the original session, where the BRs, the number of participants and remaining time are displayed.
By clicking on Join room, you can enter the respective rooms and support students or answer questions.
After the time has expired, the rooms are automatically closed and all participants are sent back to the original session.
Please inform students that chats, annotations etc. from the breakout rooms are not saved automatically!
By using the Plus button at the bottom left and Share an external video, you can share videos from external video services. Use this feature instead of sharing your screen if you want to show a video, as this feature is optimized for video sharing.
The following services are supported:
- Instructure Media
- Daily Motion
On the far right in the center you will find options to annotate slides. You can change the tool by clicking on the hand. The following tools are available:
- Hand: indicates where you cursor is, similar to a laser pointer
- Line, triangle, ellipse, rectangle
- Pen: free drawing, works best with a graphics tablet
The buttons below mean:
- Undo the last action
- Delete all annotations
- Palm recognition (useful when using a graphics tablet)
- Multi-user mode: Allow certain or all students to annotate the shared document. You can give individual users access to the whiteboard by clicking on them in the participant list - whiteboard access. These people are then marked with a pencil icon.
It is not possible to save annotations. Take a screenshot before deleting the annotations or ending the conference!
You can create a survey via the plus button at the bottom left - Start survey. Anonymous polls are also possible.
You have several types of polls to choose from:
- Yes/No question (abstaining from a vote is possible)
- True/False question
- A/B/C/D (single choice with custom options)
- Participant response (free text)
Once you activate the poll, students can vote by clicking.
By clicking Publish polling results, you can end the survey and show the results to the students. The results will be inserted in the bottom right corner of the currently displayed slide as well as in the chat, for easier export at the end of the meeting.
Tip: Design your slides with some space for the results on the bottom right.
Students can raise their hand via the button at the bottom right or by clicking on their own name in the list of participants and setting a status.
As a moderator, you will see who has raised their hand in a pop-up window. In this window, you can also lower all or individual hands.
Moderators can choose a random student by clicking on the Plus button, then Select random student.
The name of the selected student will appear in a pop-up window.
This feature can be useful for choosing students to present or answer a question.
The conference can be closed in several ways:
- after the duration scheduled in the TeachCenter settings is over
- when all moderators have left the conference and students are not allowed to join without a moderator
- when a moderator ends the conference manually (upper right-hand corner of the screen > Options > End meeting)
Help & Contact
If you have any problems in the video conference, try our tips from the user guide Troubleshooting in Video Conferences.
In case of technical issues, please contact the IT Support: email@example.com
For any questions regarding BBB settings in the TeachCenter: firstname.lastname@example.org
For further help, BBB tutorials and the BBB documentation by the IT-Support or on TU4U (in German) might be useful. Tipps for using BigBlueButton can also be found in the two TELucation articles #03 BigBlueButton - Technical Tipps and #04 BigBlueButton - Didactical Tips.