That’s not to say that there weren’t things that BBB and presenters in BBB need to think about.
I am used to Elluminate and missed some of the functionality of Elluminate – but not a lot. Three things I missed. These were:
- Being able to write onto the whiteboard using a text box and your keyboard. Currently BBB has a drawing type tool, which is just too clumsy for participant interaction and contributions. It is really helpful if participant responses can be typed up onto the whiteboard.
- A voting system – which is great for generating interaction. So for example, the presenter can create a slide with a number of contentious or thought provoking statements which participants need to think about and then vote on.
- The ability to applause (clap) and smile in the participant window. I think these symbols are very important for gauging the ‘mood’ of participants.
But the advantage of BBB is that its open source. This is so important. Elluminate is very good – but is very expensive, especially for small self-funded community groups. Even HE institutions are struggling to meet the costs of Elluminate – given all the cuts that are happening at the moment.
BBB is developing and there will be increased functionality with time – but this is what I learned about using it today.
- You do need headphones and microphone to avoid echo and feedback (similar to Elluminate)
- I’m not sure how well it would work with large numbers – we had a small group and I found it difficult to see all the participants in the ‘listener’ block without a lot of scrolling up and down.
- We sought participant interaction in two ways 1) We asked participants to take the microphone and speak. 2) We asked participants to summarise discussion and upload their slides. This was a little slow – probably because we were all learning how to do it – but worked well. We found that power point slides saved as PDF worked best.
I was kicked out of BBB a couple of times. By that I mean that I lost sound and had to log out and log back in again to hear again. I did notice that changing and uploading presentations could interfere with sound – but I’m not sure why this happened.
Otherwise, the chat had exactly the same functionality as Elluminate. As yet there isn’t the facility to separate into rooms – but our group wasn’t big enough to do this anyhow.
So all in all it was a good experience – and I’m all for open source – so thanks to Big Blue Button 🙂