Big Blue Button: thoughts from test one

Well, we’ve tested the big blue button at UCS – and included people from academic side, ITS and research community. Thanks to all 🙂

From a technical perspective, it seemed to go very well. It all worked, the presentation, audio, the text, web cam and desktop sharing.

I think the main issues focused on strategies for the presenter, such as how to manage the audio side. Our suggested practice when delivering a presentation is for all mics to be mute. This should stop the echo / repeat in the speakers microphone. However, when i then ask questions, I need to toggle between turning people’s mics on and off. This is a bit of a nightmare, when trying to facilitate the session. There must be a better way to manage this part.


  • I’m keen to work out is how I can share my desktop and also see the text box when presenting. For instance, if I ask a question when demo’ing some web based material, I’ve no idea what people are responding. This would be nice to sort out.
  • As a presenter, what is the best way of managing lots of web cams / video inputs?
  • We also need to work up recommendations around how to set up and re-visit meeting rooms. Is it best to create an number of open rooms?

I’d be interested to see if the presenter can present the stuff and manage the session, or will we need to recommend there is a session chair.

We did encounter a problem uploading the slides, however, this is to do with the way we’ve installed the software, not the actual software.

The questions, I have for the those who participated are;

  • where you able to see and hear everything you should have?
  • did your experience deteriorate as the session went on?
  • was the audio acceptable? was there any obvious time delays?
  • does this meet your expected needs? What are we missing?

The next stage will be to develop two authentic tasks (from the perspective of the Elevate Team);

  1. run an actual staff development session to those at UCS Ipswich >>> to develop the presenter guidelines
  2. support individuals on 1-2-1 support at UCS Ipswich >>> run via desktop sharing


emailed response from Andrew Farthing

I had a problem with loosing contact and a message saying ‘attempting to reconnect’?  Connectivity then dropped in and out? When I eventually got connected again it had all finished!

emailed response from Mark

StartSelection:0000000199 EndSelection:0000001370 Where you able to see and hear everything you should have?
No! The video worked well but I could not hear anything. I checked my sound before and during the test (by playing a podcast on Wolsey, which worked well) but I didn’t hear anything at all during the test. I tried the mute/un-mute buttons but nothing happened.

Did your experience deteriorate as the session went on?
No. I learned how to resize the presentation window and size the content to fit and get all the windows organised.

Was the audio acceptable? was there any obvious time delays?
(see above)

Does this meet your expected needs? What are we missing?
I think that this could work well for some aspects of ChYPP synchronous modules. Your comments about who should speak and when is interesting. As in a class, when someone is presenting there may be the odd question but mostly students will keep quiet and ask questions at the end. Perhaps this just needs agreeing at the beginning?


  1. Tim

    I could see and hear you fine. No deterioration. The video of people is annoying, and something I have always turned off if more than one or 2 people participating. It fills up the screen estate with stuff you don’t need, and is distracting. Be good to see video of presenter though.

    Audio all fine. Clear and on time.

    Screen sharing not great as the window was not resizeable – only the default size (too small) or “big” – unless I am missing something. This covered up the discussion area. Be good to have the discussion area “floating always on top” – as this area is vital for teaching at a distance.

    Good start.

  2. Will


    From my perspective it seemed to work pretty well. It seemed as though we were able to see and hear everything that we should have, although I would agree about needing to nail down the process of switching between speakers – certainly having multiple mics open at the same time would not appear to be a great idea. Other similar systems I have used just make use of the hand-up button in the way that would in a classroom – but that does rather feel like using a new technology in an old-fashioned way. There was no noticeable drop in the quality of the experience as webcams went on and off or as desktops were shared. The audio was acceptable (without being great) and I didn’t notice a lag. I’d be really happy to use the system once some of the niggles and bandwidth/system issues are sorted out – it seems to be a good solution to the particular interest I have – hosting regional meetings online.

    Thanks for organising today


  3. Aaron


    I thought the short session went very well, shame about the hanging of IE with the presentation upload. A first guess would point to Internet Explorer on the domain machine (we see a number of problems with that setup).

    I had no fall outs, hanging, or any other problems, the audio was actually much better than I was expecting. There is a small tweak we can try to help that, but BBB have significant improved VoIP in the next software release it will also include recording.

    Tim, you should be able to resize the shared desktop window.

    Looking forward to test number 2 🙂

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