The Teaching and Learning Center recently implemented a new tool within CSC Online-Sakai, the college’s learning management system. This exciting new tool is called ‘Meetings’ and provides a feature-rich, virtual collaboration environment inside your online course. The Meetings tool is based on an open-source project called BigBlueButton. BigBlueButton is a web-conferencing platform created specifically for use in higher education. Features of the tool include support for synchronous videoconferencing as well as the ability to record in a webinar-styled environment using audio, video, presentation slides, whiteboard, desktop sharing, chat, and more. 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.
BigBlueButton is not new to Chadron State College. In 2010 we began exploring the potential this technology could provide for campus with a BigBlueButton implementation on a repurposed development server. Early on it became evident that BigBlueButton was a very actively developed open-source project. The platform rapidly matured, and recently the Sakai community adopted BigBlueButton as the official Meetings tool. Because it is now the official collaboration tool within Sakai, Chadron State College instructors have the ability to implement it directly in online courses. Examples of how the campus community is currently utilizing the Meetings tool include hosted recordings of student-moderated, group meetings and presentations as well as instructor-led, virtual review sessions.
The requirements to join or host a virtual meeting using the Meetings tool are relatively modest. 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.
To add this tool to your online course tool menu, go to Site Info and use Edit Tools to select the Meetings tool. If you would like additional assistance and/or training on how to use the Meeting Tool, the Teaching and Learning Center staff is ready to help. For a full list of features, including 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org or 308.432.6234).
Jereme is the IT Analyst for the TLC. His work focuses on the use and support of technologies in teaching and learning environments. He specializes in videoconferencing and synchronous learning capabilities. Jereme oversees mediated classroom technologies, specialized videoconferencing technologies, and is administrator for several server‐based applications and services offered through the TLC.