Below are frequently asked questions regarding BigBlueButton (synchronous platform) for teaching online.

Getting Started

How do I get started using BBB? 

What browser is best to use to access BBB?  

Chrome and Firefox are the recommended browsers for optimal functionality  

What features are available in BBB? 

What supports are available to help my students learn what to do in BBB? 

We encourage you to embed technology training supports for the platforms you are using as part of your course orientation.  

What if my microphone doesn’t work? 

If others in the voice conference don’t hear you when you speak, it’s likely that the browser has picked the wrong microphone on your computer. You can click the phone icon twice – once to leave and a second time to re-join – to try joining the audio again. When you see the echo test, if you can’t hear yourself, click “no” and select a different microphone. If you still have no sound, log out of the space and then log back in. 

Why is there an echo in the room? 

We always recommend that you have your remote users use a headset with a microphone. This will ensure the best audio in a session. 

If a remote user is using a laptop with a built-in microphone, you should not hear an echo. However, if two remote users are using laptops with built-in microphones and neither is using a headset and both are sitting close to each other (close enough for the microphone in one laptop to pick up the audio from the speakers in the other laptop), then you will hear an echo. The reason is the built-in echo cancellation only works with the audio coming from the host laptop – the audio coming from the second laptop will be picked up as an external audio source. 

If a student is causing echo, the best way to solve this problem, if you are logged in as a moderator, is to mute the user by clicking the microphone icon to the left of their name. 

Overall, the best solution is to ask all users to use a headset – this will ensure no background noise or echo 

Can students share their webcam in a BBB session? 

The main room default is set up for the instructor to see all and students see instructors. You can allow camera access to a speaker by making them a presenter.  If you need to briefly have all cameras in this setting can be overridden under the settings, lock users, allow camera sharing. We do not encourage this as 35 cameras trying to share with all others can create technical issues depending on the devices and the internet of all users.  The break -out room allows all cameras if the students have selected video access when they log into the session.  

How to record in BBB: 

What does the “recording” capture? 

BigBlueButton records all activity in the presentation, chat, webcams, and desktop sharing for playback. 

Guidelines for Use  

Why is there a time limit on the session? 

In order to facilitate engagement in online learning, 90 minutes maximum is recommended. Learning onscreen requires different cognitive demands than campus-based delivery.  

Can my students use BBB for group work outside of class time? 

BBB is for faculty supported learning; it should not be set up for students to use on their own 

Is BBB the best for online office hours? 

We have several options for office hours, BBB can also be used but is more expensive to the institution than the following two options:  

  • Microsoft Teams can be used for office hours by setting up a meeting and inviting students (this is available on your KPU issued device or by installing Citrix on your own device).  
  • The Learning Centre offers faculty access to Tutor Ocean which has additional math functionality in its interface. Faculty members who are interested in hosting office hours through the Tutor Ocean platform may begin by visiting and logging in with their KPU ID and password.  Once they have done so, they will need to complete a “tutor” application (found by clicking “Become a tutor” on the dashboard).  Once completed, the learning centre will approve the account. 

Are we allowed to use other video conference platforms? 

Each platform incurs a cost to the organization and requires support and how-to documents to support users. BBB is our current digital classroom tool and Teams is our institutional meeting space. They were selected to ensure compliance with BC privacy legislation and maintenance of our security infrastructure. Other organizations may be using platforms that do not meet these requirements and have opted instead to have their legal department prepare a waiver of liability for students to sign if they are using a space that risks their personal information. Some have even told students they are using it and should not share audio or video. It is our desire to offer a platform that allows versatility regarding camera use and opportunity for authentic connection and active learning for participants. Having said this, we are constantly evaluating our use of BBB to review its efficacy and ability to meet the university’s teaching and learning needs. 

Additional resources for using BBB 

Creating Breakout Groups 

Inviting an External Guest: 

Taking Attendance in BBB: 

Unlocking Student Webcams 

The default is set to have cameras locked in the Main Room as this can increase bandwidth and impact functionality (please use judicially): 

Creative Commons License

This work by Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.