Big Blue Button

I quite like Elluminate. I’ve found it has all the elements I require for presenting or attending a webinar, and it’s reasonably easy to use.

However there is one negative. It is a commercial product. These days the academic sector has no issue dealing with commercial players but it does ease our conscience (and our finances!) a little if we can use an open source product, if there is one!

Enter stage BigBlueButton (all one word!). It’s primarily aimed at helping educational institutions to facilitate remote teaching and learning. BigBlueButton is an Elluminate clone but it comes out of an active open source project that focuses on usability, modularity, and clean design. The project code is currently hosted at Google Code with a GNU Lesser General Public License.

So how does BigBlueButton compare to Elluminate?

At first look it seems to have all the same features – you can see the participants attending, raise your hand, watch the presentation and see the presenter’s pointer. There is also public and private chat, and video facilities. And for the presenter there is a whiteboard, easy uploads and desk top sharing.

Screen sharing with BigBlueButton

There is a useful introductory video available as well as a video on presenting and one on how to use the whiteboard – all created in Camtasia. There is also a developer video which gives an overview of the architecture and the open source components.

If you want to have a go at BigBlueButton then you can join the demo meeting – they play some really nice music! You can access using headphones or by phone. If you’ve had a go before with Elluminate then it does seem very straight forward. Almost as simple as pressing a big blue button! Not having used it in earnest I’ve yet to find any problems but things are looking good for them as there are some very positive reviews around including one by Steve Boneham.

Video with BigBlueButton

More are listed on the BigBlueButton blog, a useful source of updates and information.

It’s definitely one to watch!!


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