Zoom VS BigBlueButton

Which One Should You Use?

Zoom and BigBlueButton are both “video conferencing” tools, and they have a lot in common. But, they also have some important differences. And deciding which one you should use will depend in large part on what exactly you want to do.

But before we look at specific use cases, here is a side-by-side comparison of some of the features common to both tools.


Cost Free Free
Canvas Integration? No Yes
Max Meeting Length 40 min. None
Max Participants 100 # of Students in Your Canvas Course
Record Meetings Yes Yes
Download Recordings? Yes No



So, what’s the takeaway?

When Should You Use BigBlueButton in Canvas?

One thing to consider is whether or not you WANT to conduct your video conference from within Canvas. If you do, if what you’re doing is PART of your Canvas course, then BigBlueButton is your best bet.

Perhaps you want to conduct “virtual office hours” or other online meetings or lectures that don’t require you or your students to be on campus. Or, maybe inclement weather has caused the university to close, but you can’t afford to skip today’s lecture. The best time to use BigBlueButton is when you’re in Canvas and you want your audience to be mostly passive, rather than active participants.

The fact that BigBlueButton is already built right in to your Canvas course is one of its great advantages. However, that also means that if you want to have a guest speaker or anyone else attend your conference, that person MUST be enrolled in your Canvas course.

If you’re ready to try BigBlueButton, get started here.

When Should You Use Zoom?

One of the nice things about Zoom is that it’s NOT part of your Canvas course. You can use it for ANY kind of virtual meeting and it doesn’t have to be tied to your courses in any way.

And even though the free version does limit you to no more than a 40 minute meeting, this can easily be overcome by simply creating another meeting and starting “Part 2” of your conference after a short break.

Zoom is your best bet any time you have a guest speaker and don’t want to force them to get a UT EID. It’s also great if you want to record a quick video intro for your class or an intro to a new module, or even a recorded orientation to your course. The best time to use Zoom is when you want the other people you invite to be active participants in a conversation or you want to record something relatively short (<40 min.).

One of the biggest advantages of Zoom is that you can not only record your session, you can also download the recording and keep it for future use. BigBlueButton does allow you to record sessions, but the recording is only available for two weeks and cannot be downloaded.

If you’re ready to try Zoom, get started here.

Full Disclosure

As UT faculty (or staff), Zoom and BigBlueButton are by no means the only options available to you for web conferencing, webinars, etc.

At a minimum, you also have access to Skype for Business and Adobe Connect. And if you may well prefer one of those options or find they are better suited to your specific needs.

One of the reasons we in the School of Nursing recommend either Zoom or BigBlueButton is because they are both free to use and both allow students to initiate virtual communication, not just faculty; while other tools, such as Skype or Adobe Connect don’t allow quite that same level of flexibility.



Click here to download this primer as a Word document.


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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