BigBlueButton is an open source project which aims to enable the delivery of a real-time, high quality learning experience to remote students.
It is a very interesting project; one that in light of the purchase of competitors Elluminate and Wimba by Blackboard could become very relevant to any institution that utilises Moodle. At the current time it's quite a way from being a service that could be considered for any mission-critical application, chief amongst them being:
- The user interface, though it shows really great promise, is clearly not the finished article. There was too much confusion amongst us as to which button to press and when, who is talking, managing the windows, and so on (although, it has to be said, nothing new to us who have had some misfortune in experiences with other web conferencing platforms).
- The reliance on a particular (and now outmoded) version of Ubuntu is not reassuring - I have been through the technology stack, and it is a varied and exotic cocktail of packages, the applecart of which might be upset with any given update. Ubuntu likes updates, many and often.
You might be able read about that at the WHATWG site ... though, with their recent trend towards things being what they call a 'living standard' the document is subject to change at any time. Not particularly helpful, really, in a standard, and part of the reason HTML5 is not gaining too much traction right now. So, as I've said, Flash is the best tool at present, and it is the present with which we are dealing, not the ever-elongating future as inhabited by HTML5.
On top of which:
- The low-level gears of BigBlueButton seem to work very well on the demo server.
- I admire the clean approach to the user interface design.
- It is browser based, and being Flash quite nicely uniform across them
My colleague Nitin Parmar was playing about with Big Blue Button in the very same meeting, and has these interesting things to say.