Blog

Closed Captioning and Breakout Rooms (BigBlueButton 1.1-beta)

Hi Everyone,

We are very pleased to announce the availability of BigBlueButton 1.1-beta that adds the following enhancements:

  • Breakout Rooms
  • Live Closed Captioning
  • Faster Desktop Sharing

BigBlueButton is an open source web conferencing system for online learning. The goal of the project is to provide remote students a high-quality online learning experience.

The addition of breakout rooms will enable instructors to increase collaboration among students. The addition of live closed captioning will add to the existing support of JAWS screen readers to support students with disabilities.

We’ve put together three videos to demonstrate the new features:

Breakout Rooms

Live Closed Captioning

Faster Desktop Sharing

Installing

This release is built upon the excellent Ubuntu 16.04 distribution, which enabled us to simplify the install instructions (no more need to install ruby or libreoffice) and to convert the init scripts to systemd (thereby making them more stable).

The new desktop sharing is faster, captures the cursor, runs again on Chrome, and no longer needs port 9123 open on the BigBlueButon server.

To setup and develop upon BigBlueButton 1.1-beta, see install guide, overview of what’s new, and setting up a development environment

Demo Server

Want to try BigBlueButton without installing. Check out our demo server at https://demo.bigbluebutton.org/.

Towards a Release Candidate

Overall, you’ll find this release is simpler to install and provides some core features that you would expect in a web conferencing system built for online learning. We’re working on finishing up the documentation and localization for this beta release and moving towards a release candidate.

We invite everyone in our community to try out this beta release and post your feedback to our bigbluebutton-dev mailing list.

Enjoy!

BigBlueButton Developer Summit IX

We recently finished our ninth developer summit in Porto Alegro, Brazil. It was a great week working on the BigBlueButton 1.1-beta version, HTML5 client, and mobile client (Android & iOS).

As with every summit, we made a number of presentations on our progress.

BigBlueButton Project Update

Here’s an update on the project and our work on BigBlueButton 1.1-beta.

BigBlueButton HTML5 Update

We continue to make good progress on the HTML5 client. Here’s an update from the team.

BigBlueButton Mobile Client Update (Andorid and iOS)

We’re also working on an iOS client for iPhone and iPads. Here’s an update.

Thanks for Mconf for hosting the developer summit in Brazil again this year!

BigBlueButton 1.0 Released

1.0a

The BigBlueButton project is pleased to announce the release of BigBlueButton 1.0, our 15th release in over seven years of development.

BigBlueButton is an open source web conferencing system for online learning. The goal of the project is to provide remote students a high-quality online learning experience.

This release gives instructors more abilities to engage remote students by adding:

  • Polling Module
  • Emoticons
  • Improved Video Dock

In addition to the above features, this release saw significant advancements in stability, usability, accessibility, leaning management systems (LMS) integration, localization, and design wins.

Stability
We released BigBlueButton 1.0-beta over six months ago (October 15, 2015). Since then, a number of commercial companies have been running it in production under continuous load for months (we know of one company that has hosted over 100,000 live sessions to-date).

This extensive beta testing period enabled us to stress the client and server under heavy load, find any areas that might impact the stability of a live class, fix them, and confirm they were fixed.

This all makes BigBlueButton 1.0 our most stable release to date. The focus on stability has paid off over the years.

“Our instructors love BigBlueButton. With our previous web-conferencing solution our users encountered many technical and usability problems that caused a lot of support effort on our part. With BigBlueButton, the support issues are almost non-existent. We are constantly impressed with the level of quality in this open source project.”

— Marc Matthes, Director of Computer Networking Programs and Program Developer, Distance Learning Department, Iowa Central Community College

Usability

We designed BigBlueButton to make it easy for an instructor to engage remote students online. For example, the new polling module automatically reads the text of the current slide and, if it detects a poll-type question, gives the instructor a single button to initiate a poll.

This detection enables an instructor to easily and rapidly ask multiple polls during a lecture without having to type in any of the questions during the class.

BigBlueButton uses web real-time communication (WebRTC) capabilities (in FireFox and Chrome) for very high-quality audio. This new version detects the loss of Internet connection (which can occur on a wireless network) and automatically attempts to reconnect the client and audio.

Accessibility

Accessibility is very important to us and to our target market. As with each release, we have an external firm audit BigBlueButton’s support for accessibility (specifically using screen readers such as JAWS) and give an independent assessment. You can view the accessibility statement for BigBlueButton 1.0, along with the link to our completed voluntary product accessibility template (VPAT), at http://bigbluebutton.org/accessibility/.

LMS Integration

BigBlueButton has deep implementations with many learning management systems. There are native plugins available for Moodle, Sakai, Canvas, Schoology, and Jenzabar. BigBlueButton is also certified as LTI 1.0 compliant, giving it a direct integration with every major LMS.

Localization

Thanks to our world-wide community, the BigBlueButton client has been localized into Arabic, Czech, Danish, Estonian, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Occitan, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese, and other languages.

Anyone can contribute to the localization effort.

Design Wins

While the project’s focus is on online learning, BigBlueButton’s ability to provide for real-time sharing of audio, video, slides, chat, polls, and desktop make it applicable to many market segments.

Recently, the US Department of Defense built and deployed an internal collaboration system based on BigBlueButton and publicly stated they expect to save over $12m a year using it.

This was a huge design win for the project and BigBlueButton community.

 

If you are an educational institution delivering live courses online, or a commercial company looking to integrate live collaboration in your product, this release is a significant step towards our efforts to give you a solid web conferencing platform on which to integrate and build upon.

For more details on new capabilities in BigBlueButton 1.0, see overview of 1.0.

For documentation on how to setup your own BigBlueButton server, understand the architecture, integrate it with other applications, and extend the product to meet your needs, see http://docs.bigbluebutton.org/.

BigBlueButton Summit VIII: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

The BigBlueButton developer community met in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada last week to coordinate development of the open source project for the next six months.

This was our eighth developer summit in four years. At this summit we had participants from Brazil, United States, Tunisia, and Canada. As with each summit, it’s an opportunity to work together for five days on exploring improvements to BigBlueButton, incorporating feedback from users, discussing architectural choices for the project, and making presentations to the community.

Team-pic

The focus of this summit was along a number of tracks: finishing BigBlueButton 1.0 release (currently in Release Candidate), planning the next BigBlueButton 1.1 release, reworking the BigBlueButton UI, and working on the architecture for the HTML5 and mobile client.

Thanks to all the developers who participated at the week-long summit:

    Anton Georgiev
    Calvin Walton
    Chad Pilkey
    Danny Perrone
    Felipe Cecagno
    Zachary Chai
    Fred Dixon
    Stephen Dame
    Gabriel de Campes
    Ghazi Triki
    Leonardo Daronco
    Lucas Zawacki
    Max Doumit
    Maxim Khlobystov
    Oleksandr Zhurbenko
    Oswaldo Acauan
    Pedro Marin
    Richard Alam
    Tiago Jacobs

We thank the following organizations who helped make this summit possible:

There was a lot of collaboration during the week. Here’s a picture reviewing the planned updates to the user interface.

team-pic2

As with each summit, the highlight is making presentations to the BigBlueButton community on our progress. Here are the links to the presentations:

BigBlueButton UI Update

Tyler Copeland gives an update on the work to evolve the BigBlueButton user interface.

BigBlueButton Project Update

Fred Dixon gives an update on the project.

BigBlueButton HTML Client Update

The HTML5 development team gives an update on the progress to create an HTML5 client for BigBlueButton.

We had a lot of fun at this summit, including an evening out to a local puzzle room where we tried to solve all the puzzles and escape from a room in 45 minutes. I think some members thought debugging BigBlueButton was easier than the puzzle rooms :-). Thanks to the Code Factory for providing us the space for the summit.