Bigbluebutton has been a project running for more than a decade and as a matter of fact, I came across it when I was still doing my Master’s in ELT. Even if I could try, I can’t list all the improvements that the team behind it has made.
Bigbluebutton is an open-source video conference software that teachers can use with an unlimited amount of students for a maximum of 60 minutes. Prior the lockdown BBB let you have sessions without a time limit and it also lets you record and download them. Unfortunately, due to popular demand and in order to avoid server issues, they chose to remove these features. However, these features will likely return in the future.
BBB comes with an integrated whiteboard that lets you make annotations. You can either use the text feature to write or the pencil for handwriting and create shapes which can very useful depending on the subject that you teach.
The only thing I don’t like about the whiteboard, is that you can’t modify the text boxes after you finished editing them. So, if you’ve made a type and want to correct it you’ll have to create another text box and rewrite the corrected version.
Screen sharing & uploading presentation
Regarding the screen sharing, it lets you share any windows that you have open. It works pretty well, and I have never faced any issues with it. One thing to bear in mind is that transmitting sound only works with Google Chrome. This is something I found in the forum of BBB, after being asked on my YouTube channel.
Uploading presentation is very easy, the little plus icon at the bottom of the screen lets you do this. You can upload any kind of file, and also multiple files which you can switch between at will. Again, one thing to bear in mind is that, if you have any animation in your presentations then these will become static images. This is because when you upload a file into BBB, it transforms them into PDF files which don’t support animation.
Other noticeable features
Bigbluebutton can be integrated into your LMS and being an
open source software, it means you don’t need to pay anything. You can even
create a branded version, using your own logos.
The shared notes function is one of my favourites because
not only is a place where you can keep your lesson notes but also a place where
you can keep a record of the structures or vocabulary items etc. that you’ve
encountered during the lesson. On top of that, you can export, download and
then share them with your students, which I believe increase the value of your
lessons and adds a note of professionalism.
Overall, BigBlueButton is an amazing piece of software and this is the reason why it has managed to survive for so many years. I highly suggest it to freelancers who teach groups and want a stable and error-free software yet completely free!