Review: BigBlueButtonBN integration for Moodle 2 (updated)

bbb_logoThe module for review today is the BigBlueButtonBN integration with Moodle 2.1.

Background

I had reviewed this integration back in May 2011, after using it when co-authoring the book Moodle 2.0 for Business for PacktPub with Jason Cole and Jeanne Cole. However the functionality has majorly improved so I felt it was time to revisit it. The plugin is created and maintained by Fred Dixon.

The original review in May can be found here.

What does it do?

The activity provides an easy way for the teacher to create and manage a virtual training room / classroom on the BigBlueButton server, and for the student to log into the correct room.

For those who don’t know, BigBlueButton is an open source web conferencing system used for distance education and for training sessions. It is relatively new the scene however has a good core set of features already including:

  • strong whiteboard features
  • desktop sharing
  • public and private chat
  • support for presenting with MS Office formats using open office
  • the latest BBB 0.8-beta release can now record lectures for later playback

Is it simple to install?

This module hosts the source is in GitHub, however the plugin database entry hosts the download zip files. The zipfile you download holds two folders bigbluebuttonbn and recordingsbn which need to be uploaded to your mod folder in Moodle. .

When upgrading through the notifications page, the two parts installed successfully.

One thing I really liked about this activity is that it ships with some default settings to test with BigBlueButton server access provided by the company, and it still does. This is a neat touch, and is worth a mention!

The new global settings were just the URL for the BBB server and the security salt to authenticate. As they had the test server info, I left them be.

Is there documentation for it?

The activity has some instructions on the plugin database entry, and a comprehensive README in the zip file. It also has a detailed integration page and step by step instructions on their website. There is also a video providing an overview on the module. This is plenty of good information but it would be nice to see a Moodle Docs page for the activity, even if it linked off to these other pages.

Is it easy for the teacher/admin to use?

There is not a lot in setting this activity up. You add activity from the dropdown on the course page and the select the name and choose if the students must wait for the moderator or not. You can set the join open and close times. Now with the latest version you can also specify if you want to record, the recording name and length.

Activity Configuration

Activity Configuration

After that, it just works, and launches into the service. I do like the simplicity of the interface for the virtual classroom. It just has just whats needed and no more.

BigBlueButton Classroom

BigBlueButton Classroom

When the recording is made, you can then add it in as a resource to your course launchpage. This is particularly useful if you want to include training sessions into Moodle as resources so that others can access them later.

Add Resource Recording

Add Resource Recording

Is it easy for the learner/student to use?

The students have a smooth easy experience with this activity. It either keeps them waiting until a moderator joins, or allows them in immediately. And very nicely, when they log out it returns them to the Moodle site.

Does it do what it promises?

Yes, this is a straight forward integration with no complications. For people who are looking for the open source solution for virtual classrooms, or for a virtual training option for Moodle this is a nice easy activity to enable this functionality in Moodle 2.

Stars: 4 out of 5 stars for this activity.

**Standard Reminder**

These reviews check out the plugin for usability not for security. If you are considering installing any module on your site you should also check that is secure and does not impact the server performance.

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