Zoom & BigBlueButton: Web Conferencing Made Easy

Do you ever have guest lecturers who can’t be THERE with you and your students in class?

Do you ever wish you could offer ‘virtual office hours’ for your students?

Would you like to let students work together in a virtual space that doesn’t require them being in the same room?

Do you need to record a webinar that you can share with students later on?

Well, luckily, there are two tools available to you to let you do all that and more.

Zoom is a web conferencing and video tool available for free (and with paid options) that allows you to host virtual meetings, video conferences, webinars, virtual office hours, and more.

Getting Started with Zoom (from the University of Iowa)

Zoom Tutorials

Pros & Cons

Zoom is completely free and easy to use, for you AND your audience, but it does have certain limitations. The free version will only allow you to host up to a 40 minute meeting; it is also not integrated with Canvas, which can sometimes be an issue.


BigBlueButton is a video conferencing tool designed for instructors and is a great tool for conferencing, webinars, sharing documents with your virtual audience, and more.

Getting Started with BigBlueButton (from Colorado State University)

Virtual Tutoring with Canvas Conferences and Big Blue Button

Pros & Cons

One of the best things about BigBlueButton is that it is already built right in to Canvas. You or your students can access it already by going to the Conferences section of any Canvas course. Of course, one of the limitations of it being integrated with Canvas is that it requires that those using it already have a UT EID and be enrolled in your course, so it might not be the best solution if you have a guest speaker who is not affiliated with UT.

Both of these  tools are easy to use and allow you and your students to interact through video conference no matter where you are. I encourage you (and your students) to try them out and see what works (or doesn’t…).

If you have any questions, or would like to know more, please don’t hesitate to contact me at your convenience.


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