We are looking to use webinars with our Moodle 2.3 and were wondering if anyone has any experience with either Big Blue Button or Go To Webinars (Adobe connect is too expensive), thanks Rupert
Have been doing a bit of research myself, and found these two to have good reviews: WizIQ and MeetingBurner. MeetingBurner.com is free up to a certain number of participants, and WizIQ was both very intuitive and MUCH more affordable than Adobe Connect, Blackboard Collaborate, etc. Also used JigsawMeeting, which I really liked (and good customer service). Hope this helps! ~Tim
I have read that you are restricted to 25 members poer session is that right or can you have more than that?
I don't recall exactly. You can find out pretty easily and quickly at the sites of each. I recall MeetingBurner was very reasonable cost-wise, and that you didn't need to sign up for expensive, long-term contracts, either.
Adobe Connect is one of the pricier solutions but the little bit extra is well worth it when you look at the big picture. Having said that, Adobe has some really compelling rates for EDU clients (significant discounts off of the commercial prices) plus special packages that may not have been available when you last looked.
You should also consider both their Hosted (SaaS) and on-premise options.
Disclosure - We're Connect resellers in North America, Europe and Australia and I'd be happy to discuss what might be possible. You can have up to 1,500 attendees in a single Connect session (you're not limited to 25 users) and while BBB may be cheap to download you need to look at Total Cost of Ownership when making the comparison, as well as reliability.
We also offer a highly customized version of Moodle that provides incredible integration with Connect which means you can pretty well manage all of your classroom sessions, virtual office hours scheduling, HTML email reminders and attendance tracking and grading without ever logging in to Connect.
You may want to give Adobe another look as it's a solution that's hard to beat from a technology standpoint, especially with the new Connect 9 release in a few weeks.
Terry, what are some of the items in Total Cost of Ownership that should be considered in order to make an accurate apples-to-apples comparison?
From my point of view, having tested BBB, I would say that 25 users is not a limit on BBB, just a recommendation - I'm sure I've seen on their site that they have had 60+ on a single instance and while that doesn't compare to 1500 simultaneous users, it will very much depend on what your needs are going to be - right now, for my usage, we are looking at running small scale tutorial type meetings and not trying to broadcast to whole cohorts so 1500 users would not be of any use to me - and to be honest I can't see wanting to use facilities such as chat or webcams with that many attendees, so for such a large audience, i would probably choose to use a simpler streaming technology rather than web-conferencing per se - that would however, veery much depend on the circumstances and requirements at the time (although i can certainly see that 1500 users may be appropriate in other institutions - but I can also see that an instituation that size would have considerably different budget restrictiions to deal with as well!).
As far as reliability goes - as I said in an earlier post, I've been testing with BBB's shared test server and have had over 30 users in one session, and have never had anything fail in any of the test sessions I've tried with it or when demo-ing to other members of my team.
And from what I have seen so far, the only TCO issue I can see with BBB at present is the cost of hosting - if you can host it yourself on existing infrastructure, then that is minimised - but depending on your infrastructure, may then have an impact on the number of simultaneous users (the BBB site I'm sure would have more details on that)
Training and so forth would be a TCO issue, but that is going to be the case whatever system you use.
Please note - I am not advising against any other product here, just trying to pass on my testing of BBB to help, if others can pass on their experiences of other systems to help you then more power to your decision (It might for example be worth noting that the iMoot was run on Adobe Connect to a world wide audience, although I don't recall seeing more than about 60 odd attendees in any one session there either )
You can already see some of the costs in Matt's reply below. Selecting a solution that is sub-optimal for your needs, leads to all kinds of compromise and hidden costs, most notably the human costs of work-arounds when things don't perform as you expect or as your faculty and students might like. It all comes down to what you are trying to deliver.
Education is becoming as much a business as many "for profit" undertakings and having the right technology is critical to success in this environment.
I'm not knocking BBB or MeetingBurner as they may meet your needs and let's face it, the world has more than enough webinar products to choose from already with more appearing all the time. I just see many organizations being "penny wise and pound foolish" with these technologies.
Adobe Connect is available as a SaaS solution which many clients now seem to prefer over the on-premise option. No servers to procure, configure, update and maintain. No IT infrastructure to supply, no bandwidth requirements - leading to savings in manpower, hardware, support etc.
You get a complete service that is robust and just works. There are different licensing options that can make using the system very cost effective (Named Host or Concurrent User) and compared to the compromises that you would have to make with MeetingBurner, it works out of the box and will grow with you no matter how big you want to go. Start small and see where the opportunities and demand take you.
Big Blue Button is very credible (it copies many of the features that were created and pioneered by Connect (or Breeze if you go back far enough) but it's hardly a download that you unpack, run a single command line and you're good to go. If you have resources available and time to spend setting it all up and are happy with the feature set, it may be a perfect fit.
Connect of course is also available as an on-premise install too so you have the choice of deployment models and there are plenty of institutions from JK-12 up to major Universities and all points between using it. Many would argue they have tight budgets but Connect is a critical tool in their delivery options.
It's got the broadest range of features, great mobile support (and getting better all the time) and with the APIs and SDK support is incredibly extensible which is another big plus that few if any platforms can offer.
It's important to examine your use cases, determine which features are critical, important, nice or trivial and then evaluate based on that rather than starting with cost, at least in my opinion. Do you need an SUV, a convertible, a MiniVan, a Hybrid or a Pickup Truck? One isn't better or worse than the other, it all depends on your needs.
Just don't write off Connect as being too pricey. It's not, but then it may be more than you need too.
I've been using MeetingBurner for a few months now, since the project was in beta testing. The developers were kind enough to grant me a free pro account for my participation and feedback.
It's definitely faster and more stable than the other web conferencing services I've used. I think they use Amazon's infrastructure so that's not really surprising. It has a Flash client so there's no need to download and run local Java clients - it all works in the browser. It also supports phone-ins and Skype calls, although I haven't tried those out.
On the downside, the chat window is too small (narrow), can't be resized and the lines of text are spaced so far apart that it's difficult to see enough comments at once follow the conversation - very fiddly. I've already given them feedback on this but nothing's changed so far. When you go into full-screen mode, it automatically hides the side bar with the chat, audio controls, etc., which I don't think is very practical or helpful. Additionally, Flash Player 11+ allows keyboard input in full-screen mode, so there's no need to hide any text input boxes anymore.
It doesn't have a shared whiteboard or the facility to upload presentations of files. The only way to present stuff is via screen sharing which is notoriously slow (it uses a lot of your bandwidth and is often incompatible with simultaneous audio and video). So it's pretty limited.
I think if they listen to feedback from users and act on it, they could have a pretty good system. However, I haven't seen any significant changes since I started using it.
There's a fairly good overview of what's available in web conferencing services and software here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_web_conferencing_software (Good ol' Wikipedia).
I'd try out any that offer free trials or limited free accounts to see if they meet your needs. Also I think getting feedback from experienced users about their own particular usage scenarios as well as the pros and cons is invaluable because one guy might only use one or two features of a service and think it's wonderful while another might find the more advanced features, that you may also want to use, lacking in some way.
I'd add that I don't think it's desireable to keep switching services on existing groups of learners. Perhaps, use a different service for each group and do a systematic comparison at the end of a semester or course?
There's a lot of research and homework to be done ;)
I'd be happy to set you up with a free 30 day trial with Adbe Connect so you can see how well it would meet your needs and/or demonstrate how our Connect/Moodle integration works.
Let me know if I can help.
thanks for your comments and the offer of the trial. I am also working on behalf of a couple of national educational & charitable organisations here in the UK so i will have to run it by them but i will get back to you shortly. Could you send me an email address to reply to or email me email@example.com thanks, Rupert