The CSC Online Meetings tool, also known as BigBlueButton, is a web-conferencing, synchronous learning platform created specifically for use in higher education. Over the summer months, the Teaching & Learning Center made the transition from a limited, campus-hosted instance of the Meetings tool to an instance hosted by Blindside Networks. Blindside Networks is a professional team comprised of BigBlueButton founders and active developers of this open-source, synchronous learning platform. As part of the hosting agreement with Blindside Networks, the Meetings tool will always be updated with the latest features and improvements in quality and reliability. The Meetings tool is ideal for building online community by interactively engaging with students, facilitating virtual office hours, and adding a rich-media experience within your online course.
The requirements to join or host a virtual meeting using the Meetings tool are relatively modest. A reliable, high-speed Internet connection is required to provide the best experience. Participants must have a reliable high-speed Internet connection to provide the best experience. They must also have a USB or integrated webcam to support live video sharing as well as earbuds or the use of a headset for the best possible audio experience and to minimize distractions. Common office document formats including Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and PDF can be directly uploaded for presentation purposes within a meeting. Simple whiteboard and polling features can be incorporated to increase participant engagement.
One of the newly implemented features of the Meeting Tool is called “breakout rooms”. Breakout rooms provide the ability to easily separate a large virtual meeting of participants into several smaller groups. The meeting moderator then has the ability to join these individual groups as well as bring them back together as one large group. A similar analogy of the feature can be explained as an instructor moving around a classroom comprised of small discussion groups. Additional features include improved WebRTC audio available for all participants as well as improved screen sharing functionality.
Blindside Networks, in conjunction with the Teaching and Learning Center, will be offering a virtual professional development opportunity for the CSC Online Meeting tool (BigBlueButton) in October. This virtual event will provide an introduction to the platform, an overview of features, and a question-and-answer session. If you are interested in professional development opportunities to learn more about using the Meeting tool to support teaching and learning in your courses, please don’t hesitate to contact the Teaching and Learning Center. For a full list of BigBlueButton features and video tutorials, please visit the official BigBlueButton project page.
Increasingly, the TLC is focused on reporting emerging technologies and identifying professional development opportunities that enhance teaching and learning on our campus. As the TLC staff reviews technologies, we will hold informational seminars and invite faculty to participate in a testing and review process. To discuss training opportunities and/or suggest “new arrival” gadgets, please stop in for a visit or contact the TLC’s IT Analyst, Jereme Patterson (email@example.com or 308.432.6234).