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First Impressions of Big Blue Button.

Updated: Aug 26, 2021

This week I have tried out Big Blue Button within Canvas. The Maths and English team have reported brilliant success using this, so after a great tutorial from James Wells and a test run with Steph Barry, I successfully delivered my first BBB session.

A couple of test runs helped me to figure out how to use this successfully; I found that as with a normal face to face classroom session you need to have all materials, PPT slides, web links etc ready to upload, I don’t believe you can set this up prior to the session. You need to also carefully plan what you will do and what activities your students will do during the session so you can use the Poll and Whiteboard facilities live throughout; again I don’t think you can’t set these up prior to the session.

With this in mind I amended my PPT slides to reflect what I wanted to do during the class. I then set an announcement to share the helpful links provided by James.

Once everyone was logged on (I had full attendance) I let everyone know that the session would be recorded. I only used the audio and encouraged my students to do the same however webcam use is an option.

As this was as much a test for me as it was the students, I set my PPT up with a couple of quick, light-hearted tasks to begin the session. I spent about five minutes ensuring everyone knew how to contribute with the various functions before starting the lesson.

I utilised the public chat box for the majority of the session but I did ask students to respond to a couple of questions in a private chat direct to me. I found that this discouraged ‘opt out’ by letting all students answer without waiting to see responses in the public chat box. I did find it a little difficult to stay on top of the rolling public chat box so next time I think I will allocate 60 second stop points so both me and the learners can scroll back and pick up on any questions or key points which could be missed when the full group are contributing.

I uploaded a YouTube video Clip and used the ‘share my screen’ function to look at a Word document. Again, I prepared for this and made sure that my desk top was clear of open tabs to maintain confidentiality whilst screen sharing.

I think I used pretty much a full range of the functions during my maiden BBB session, and as ‘BBB newbie’ I was impressed at just how easy this was to use. I spent the most time planning the lesson content and how I wanted to present, using the conference was straightforward!

It took me a little while to find the recording after the session. You can find it in the little drop down arrow shown in the image below. However recordings are automatically deleted after 14 days.

Overall I enjoyed the session and I got some good feedback from the students.

I attended another webinar today hosted by James – these are excellent at introducing and explaining these techniques as we all quickly adapt to remote learning. I also joined the live SIRS Maths conference; it was great to see how this is used in a variety of ways.

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