I just started using Big Blue Button recently with a hosting service.
Last year, I used Skype with Mikogo for a free web conferencing solution with about six students. I used Teamviewer when Mikogo was down (which was often in the last few months). I've also trialed the newest version of Elluminate.
Just an overview:
- Can't tell who needs help by raising virtual hand.
- Skype doesn't allow someone to join an existing conference call. You have to close the current call and then call everyone again.
- Not easy to mute specific people.
- Skype group screen sharing is expensive. Everyone has to be a "premier member". Hence you need Mikogo.
- Mikogo has been unreliable at times... difficulty connecting.
- Skype's OSX client has been less than stellar - frequent disconnects.
- Mikogo has problems when screen sharing with multiple monitors (as of August 2011)
- Mikogo for OSX will make you lose focus when a student points on your screen during your presentation. Annoying bug.
Teamviewer has a broadcast option that works quite well with a small group of students. However, you can't easily make someone else a presenter so that everyone can see their screen.
Big Blue Button.
- Can't control someone elses mouse via screen sharing. Sometimes I want to help fix a problem or type something but I cant.
- Voice not as good as Skype's -- slight delay.
- Screensharing a bit slower than Teamviewer.
- No breakout rooms like Elluminate has. That would be nice to take a large group of students and instantly move them into smaller groups where I could move between rooms to give them help.
- Next version of BBB will have pdf/ppt recording but no screen sharing recording like Elluminate has.
- When screen sharing, students can't create a pointer to point at something on my screen. I really liked how Mikogo does this and missed it badly in BBB. In fact a pointer for each student in a different color appears in Mikogo.
Awesome things I've noticed about BBB right off the bat:
- Voice/Cam/PDF sharing/Screensharing all in one. Don't need to install a client for Voice, and one for Cam, One for screen sharing, etc.
- As long as your machine runs Flash, you are in. I had students in Linux Mint, OSX, Windows, IE, Firefox, Chrome with no problems.
- Localization works great. I had a Chinese student that enjoyed this aspect.
- Interface VERY clean. I kinda wish there was a settings button at the top for Flash.
- The PDF doc sharing works EPIC. Anything can be converted to PDF so that means BBB can work with any document.
First time wierdness with BBB
- Some students didn't understand how to share their screen when made them presenter.
- Some students didn't know how to maximize the screen sharing.
- Opening the Flash settings during the screen sharing process can lock up BBB.
- Flash wouldn't always pick up the correct sound input... Students didn't know how to right click and choose settings to do this.
- I'm not sure how to whiteboard without uploading a blank PDF file... is there a way?
This was our first time using BBB so at the end the students were generally positive about it after they figured out how to share their screen.
I'll make more use of the PDF sharing next time.