BigBlueButton Community Call: Improving Accessibility

This week’s BigBlueButton community call highlighted the good work by Seneca College to improve BigBlueButton’s accessibility by students with disabilities.  Chad Pilkey and Justin T Robinson gave an update on their progress.  You can view the recording of their presentation here or click the image below (the presentation starts at around nine minute mark).


These contributions by Seneca College will be merged into BigBlueButton 0.81.

BigBlueButton Community Call: July 11, 2012

BigBlueButton developers recently held an open session (the first of many to come) with the community.  Users participated from Porto Alegre (Brazil), Cupertion, CA (USA), Central IL (USA), Toronto, Ontario (Canada), Ottawa, Ontario (Canada), Guayaquil (Ecuador), and Istanbul (Turkey).

During the session, Fred Dixon, one of the BigBlueButton developers, gave an overview of

  • BigBlueButton Community
  • BigBlueButton 0.80 release
  • Current development effort underway for BigBlueButton 0.81, which includes
    • Capture of all events in the presentation area
    • Support for students with disabilities
    • Addition of text tool to the whiteboard
    • Layout manager

The BigBlueButton Developer mailing list has over 1200 members.  This session was highly valuable to us as we connected with some members who were that were working on similar BigBlueButton enhancements – specifically Ajay Gopinath who was working on improvements the whiteboard.   It became clear during the call that some of Ajay’s work could be leveraged in BigBlueButton 0.81.

We know that over the last year there were 61,000 installs of BigBlueButton.  Some of the participants on the call shared their applications of BigBlueButton, which included using it within a not-for-profit and K12 organization.

Our intent is to hold these calls on a regular basis going forward.  To follow the up-to-minute developments on BigBlueButton, subscribe to bigbluebutton-dev mailing list.

The full recording (45 minutes) is available here (or click on the image below).  Of course, we used BigBlueButton itself to host the session and it generated the recording.  BigBlueButton uses popcorn.js to playback the recording.


We’ll definitely be doing more community calls on BigBlueButton using BigBlueButton.  There’s lots of traffic in bigbluebutton-dev, but it’s great to talk and see other community members from around the world.



Analysis on use of BigBlueButton in PSYC 1000

Bruce Tsjui, a Psychology professor at Carleton University, used BigBlueButton in his winter PSYC 1000 course consisting of approximately 100 students. Bruce has over 20 years experience in user interface design, and we asked him for his feedback on his experiences using BigBlueButton. We care a lot about constantly improving the usability of BigBlueButton, so we asked him to be complete in his feedback: if there were areas for improvement, we wanted to hear it!

For PSYC 1000, all the lectures were given in a lecture hall where the student attended in person. For the tutorials, however, students had a choice of either attending in person or remotely using BigBlueButton. The tutorials were held on fridays from 3:30-4:30 and, to increase the overall attendance and participation, attendance at the tutorials accounted for 20% of the student’s grade.

Three of the 10 tutorials were given using BigBlueButton throughout the semester. In the survey, 37% of the students liked to remotely attend using BigBlueButton and 39% liked face to face experience — a result which Bruce examines in analysis on use of BigBlueButton for winter PSYC 1000 (recorded using BigBlueButton).

Thanks again Bruce for putting together this feedback — especially your UI recommendations at 0:30:18!

BigBlueButton is a Global Project

BigBlueBlueButton is currently localized in over 35 languages (thanks to contributions of language files from our community).

To analyze the installs of BigBlueButton, we recently looked at the web logs for our apt-get repository. Each time a BigBlueButton VM starts for the first time, or each time a developer/administrator installs BigBlueButton from packages, it downloads files from the web server running on our apt-get repository. By analyzing the incoming IP addresses logged by the web server, we can approximate the installs for BigBlueButton.

Over the last year there have been approximately 61,000 BigBlueButton servers installed in over 163 different countries. The pie chart below displays the top 20 countries from this list. We only counted unique IP addresses, so the real number is probably slightly higher (multiple installs behind a firewall only count as a single entry).


Australian 2012 Emerging Technology Trials

Trainspace, an Australian-based company, recently conducted a trial of BigBlueButton as part of the Australian 2012 Emerging Technology Trials, a program under the government’s National VET (Vocational Education and Training) E-learning Strategy (Strategy).

The full report of the BigBlueButton trail available is available on-line.  It contains a good analysis of using BigBlueButton, along with survey results such as asking the effectiveness of BigBlueButton as an educational training tool.

The report also gave a number of recommendations for improving BigBlueButton (with our comments on each recommendation):

  • Keyboard text entry into whiteboard – This improvement is on the road-map (and we’re working on getting it into the next release)
  • Break out rooms – It’s not planned for the next release (0.81), but it`s also on the roadmap.
  • More instructions at login regarding use of headsets removal of noise when headsets not plugged in -Agreed!
  • Polling – Seneca College recently implemented a polling module that we working on integrating.