How to use the Conferences app (Enterprise only)

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Looking for a versatile virtual classroom within Schoology? You have it with Schoology Conferences by BigBlueButton.

Schoology Conferences by BigBlueButton enables you to hold:

  • Virtual office hours
  • Group collaborations
  • Full online classes 

To support these use cases, Schoology Conferences by BigBlueButton provides real-time sharing of audio, video, slides, chat, and screen. This enables schools and organizations to deliver a high-quality learning experience to remote students.

You can access Schoology Conferences by BigBlueButton via the built-in Conferences app. Using the Conferences app, course and group admins can create, plan, and hold live audio and video conferences with up to 100 participants (up to 25 participants for Free Tier users). 

Note: The Conferences app from BigBlueButton is hosted by Blindside Networks. All organizations using Schoology Enterprise have access to the free version of BigBlueButton via the Conferences app. Organizations that have Premium licensing with Blindside Networks also have access to an additional set of features within the Conferences app.

You can use the links below to jump to a specific area of the guide:

Install the App to Your Courses and Groups

Instructors can install Conferences from the Schoology App Center directly to each course and group they administer. System Administrators can install the app for all courses and/or groups in their organization.

Only course and group admins can create and start a conference, but by default, all course members can participate. To prevent other members from participating in a conference, select Course/Group admins only when installing the app.

To install the Conferences app from the App Center as a System Administrator:

  1. Click the App Center icon at the top of Schoology, then click App Center.
  2. Locate the Conferences app and click the title.
  3. Click Install App.
  4. Click Add to Organization.
  5. You will be taken to Organization Apps to continue the installation.
  6. Click Install/Remove.
  7. Select the box next to All Course and/or All Groups.
  8. If desired, check Course admins only or Group admins only to prevent other members from participating in the conferencing.
  9. Click Submit.
  10. Click Configure to approve the app for your organization. If you have a Premium license for BigBlueButton, this is where you can enter your credentials provided by Blindside Networks.

ConferencesSAInstall.gif

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Create a Conference

If you are the course or group admin, you can create a new conference after installing Conferences:

  1. Click the Conferences app in the left menu in a course or group where it is installed.
  2. Click + Create New Conference.
  3. Name the conference and set its start time. You can also include an optional end time.
  4. Use the gear gear.jpg to the right of a specific conference to edit the title, start, and end times or to delete the conference.

Create as many conferences as you like. Upcoming conferences will appear in the Active tab. A list of past conferences displays in the Completed tab. Recordings of completed conferences will remain available for 7 days after the end of the conference.

Note: Users in schools with Premium Tier BigBlueButton licenses do not have the 7-day limit and may access recorded sessions at any time after they are posted.

ConferenceCreate.gif

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Conduct a Conference

As the admin for your course or group, you must click the Start Conference button within the app to begin the video conference. Even if the Start Time has passed, your conference will not begin until you start the session.

Upon launching or joining a conference, BigBlueButton opens in a new tab. Follow the prompts to test your audio and microphone.

During the conference you can:

  • Record a live video conference.
  • Upload documents and teach using an interactive whiteboard.
  • Make live annotations.
  • Chat instantly with all attendees or individuals.
  • Moderate the live discussion by muting participants and allowing them to raise their hands.
  • Share a YouTube video.
  • Collaborate with students in Shared Notes.
  • Create breakout rooms for team collaboration.

Students will also be able to:

  • Make live notations on a shared, multi-user whiteboard.
  • Collaborate in Shared Notes, and later download them.
  • Participate in breakout rooms.

Screen_Shot_2017-09-20_at_10.33.21_AM.pngScreen_Shot_2017-09-20_at_10.37.28_AM.png

Lock Viewers Settings

During a conference, Admins may lock some conference features to disable members from using them.

Conference features include:

  • Share webcam.
  • Share microphone.
  • Send Public Chat messages.
  • Send Private Chat messages.
  • Edit Shared Notes.
  • See other viewers in the Users list.

To lock conference features for members:

  1. From the Users panel on the left, click the gear gear.jpg on the right.
  2. Select Lock viewers.
    02_Conferences_Lock_Viewers.png
  3. Click the toggle bar next to each feature you wish to lock/unlock for members. Conferences_Lock_Settings.png
    Note: Private chat messages and Shared Notes are locked by default.

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Join a Conference

After you begin a conference, course and group members can join your session by:

  1. Clicking Conferences in the left menu.
  2. Clicking the title of the conference.

Screen_Shot_2018-06-29_at_12.21.35_PM.png

Notes:
  • Members can only join sessions with a status of In Progress, which indicates that the Admin has started the session.
  • Up to 100 course or group members can participate in a conference simultaneously (Premium Tier only). For Free Tier license, up to 25 course or group members can participate in a conference.
  • Members of courses with linked sections can join the same conference when accessing the Conferences app on the left-hand side of the course menu.
  • The number of participants who can share their webcam depends on the user’s bandwidth.
  • Admins in schools with Premium BigBlueButton licenses may also invite guests into a session via an invite URL, or post a dial-in number to the voice conference bridge.

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End a Conference

To end the conference, the course or group admin must select End Conference within Schoology. Participants can exit a conference by closing the browser.

Screen_Shot_2018-06-29_at_12.23.36_PM.png

Conferences saves recorded sessions for 7 days. To view a recorded session during this time, select the Completed tab within the app and click Play.

Notes:
  • Users in schools with Premium Tier BigBlueButton licenses do not have the 7-day limit and may access recorded sessions at any time after they are posted.
  • It may take several minutes after the conference has ended for recordings to appear in the Completed area.

To delete an Active or Completed conference, click the gear icon to the right of the conference and select Delete.

If you have questions regarding your video and audio configurations, or to view a full tutorial of the app, visit the BigBlueButton Help page.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How many concurrent users can access a single Conference session at a time? Also, is there a limit to the number of concurrent Conference sessions that can be conducted by my organization at the same time?

  • There is no limitation on concurrent users or sessions in the Premium Tier BigBlueButton license, but for performance stability we recommend 100 students or less per Conference session. 
  • Due to increased volume, BigBlueButton has implemented a soft limit of 10 concurrent sessions/25 students per session limit for some customers on the Free Tier license. If you intend to use the Conferences app beyond this limit, we recommend reaching out to your Schoology representative to discuss upgrading to the Premium version.  

Can members join conferences via phone?

  • Yes, members may join a conference using a phone. The dial-in number and code are provided to Admins only. This number is displayed in the Public Chat area:
    01_Conferences_dial.png
    Above, the dial option on the Free Tier license. Below, the dial option on the Premium Tier license.
    01a_Conferences_Dial_Premium.png
  • Admins may distribute this number to members who wish to join a conference using a phone instead of the Conferences app in Schoology.

Does BigBlueButton charge per minute if you call into a conference? 

  • There is no additional charge if you join a conference via computer or mobile browser. 
  • If you join a conference by dialing in, normal charges from your telephone provider will apply.
  • The Conferences Premium tier offers the option to set up a toll free dial-in number.  We recommend contacting BigBlueButton Support directly for more information on call charges.

I set up a Conference and I can see my students but my students can't see each other! 
Is this a bug? 

  • Instructors can see all students' webcams in a conference, but students can not see each others' webcams.
  • Students can see their own webcam, share their webcam, and of course see the instructor's webcam.
  • Instructors may also create breakout rooms in a conference that allows students in those sessions to see each other.

I recorded a Conference but it's not showing up.  Should I be worried?

  • With the increase in concurrent usage of Conferences, recordings may take longer to process.  They will show up, but with delay.  You should expect that all recordings to appear within 24 hours.

How long are recorded conferences available for?

  • Recordings of completed conferences remain available for 7 days after the end of the conference (Free Tier license).
  • Users with Premium Tier BigBlueButton licenses do not have the same 7-day limit and may access recorded sessions at any time after they are posted.

Is the Conferences app supported on the Schoology iOS app?

  • No, if you need to access Conferences on a mobile device or tablet, you should use Schoology in a mobile browser.

What should I do if I can't access recorded conferences from mobile?

  • Recorded conferences are available for 7 days after the conference has ended. Users with Premium Tier BigBlueButton licenses do not have the same 7-day limit. Bear in mind also, Conferences is supported on desktop computer and mobile browser only.
  • If you're unable to access recorded conferences via the mobile browser, please reach out to BigBlueButton Support for further support.

Where should we go to find out more about purchasing the premium version of Conferences?

  • If you are interested in purchasing the premium version, please reach out to your Schoology representative.

Can I use Conferences app in my linked classes?

  • Yes, the Conferences app supports linked sections. Course members in linked sections can join the same conference when accessing the Conferences app on the left-hand side of the course menu.

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