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.

Schoology Conferences enables you to hold:

  • Virtual office hours
  • Group collaborations
  • Full online classes 

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

You can access Schoology Conferences via the built-in Conferences app. Using the Schoology 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.

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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  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.

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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.

Students will also be able to:

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

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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.

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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).
  • 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.

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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. 

For the Free Tier, due to increased volume, BigBlueButton will soon implement a soft limit of 10 concurrent sessions/25 students per session limit for some customers. If you intend to use the Conferences app beyond this limit, we recommend reaching out to your Schoology Client Success contact to discuss upgrading to the Premium version.  

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 sessions in a conference that allows students in those sessions to 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.

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.

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 Client Success contact.

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.

How long are recorded conferences available for?

Recordings of completed conferences remain available for 7 days after the end of the conference. 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.

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.

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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