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      Hope Through Education

      Rapid Innovation Was The Only Answer

      It’s incredible to think that 1.5 billion students saw their in-class education disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the span of weeks in early 2020, educators around the globe moved their physical classrooms and in-person learning to virtual classrooms and virtual learning. To adapt, educators and policy-makers brought together a myriad of existing virtual platforms and tools to bridge the education delivery gap, often relying on corporate video conferencing tools to make it happen. This accelerated move to virtual learning laid bare a world surprisingly unprepared for virtual learning despite a 15-year span of growth in online learning prior to Covid.  

      Schools struggled with a lack of time to adequately train teachers on the new tools. Those teachers in turn struggled to adapt their in-class content for optimized use online, and educators in more developed economies such as North America were surprised at the number of students who lacked access to basic technology, including wifi, necessary to stay on top of their studies.  

      In a period of 2.5 years, with over a billion minutes of hosted learning through Instructure and Canvas LMS (to put that into perspective, it would take 1,407 years watching 24 hours a day to observe it all), the team at BigBlueButton learned and adapted to the needs of teachers through a period of change that analysts predicted would take twenty or thirty years to accomplish. And now our mission is to continue our global collaboration with educators to add to what is now the world’s most adopted open-source virtual classroom platform.  

      Born In A Classroom

      BigBlueButton was founded in 2008 to fill an unmet need in global education, a free open-source virtual classroom built by teachers for teachers. Removing the cost barrier allows the platform to be accessible to teachers and students around the globe. As an open-source program, developers, educational institutions, and state governments can rapidly use BigBlueButton to innovate to meet the new and emerging needs of both teachers and students, helping fulfill our ultimate mission of transforming lives by improving access to education for everyone.

      Today, we’re available in 55 languages around the globe supporting more than a million teachers. As an example, BigBlueButton was deployed across France through the French Ministry of Education (a user-base of over 1.2 million users), and the German state of Baden-Württemberg scaled BigBlueButton to support over 185,000 concurrent teachers and students. To accommodate this explosive growth, Blindside Networks, the company providing BigBlueButton hosting to Instructure, successfully scaled its hosting capacity 60x in the span of only two months. 

      Through feedback generated through extensive global use, BigBlueButton has implemented new designs and features to continue to adapt to the needs of educators everywhere while staying focused exclusively on teachers and students.

      Bridging Online Education Gaps

      The International Commission on the Futures of Education established by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has established nine ideas for concrete action to advance global education. Notably, one concrete action is to make free and open-source technologies available to teachers and students. BigBlueButton shares this ethos and the design of the platform is guided by use cases between teachers and students, and not by economic considerations of a private company.

      Innovation of the BigBlueButton platform is guided by the four dimensions of a successful virtual class and by focusing on the following use cases for teachers.

      • Management - How do I set up and manage my virtual classroom for success? 
      • Relationships - How do I establish presence and trust with and between students?
      • Engagement - How do I engage their minds for learning?
      • Assessment - How do I assess their progress and give timely feedback?

       Students in geographically isolated locations like Tuktoyaktuk in Canada or rural Madagascar have the same need and rights to an education as those students in urban environments. Working closely with Instructure, BigBlueButton will continue to strive to bridge the global educational divide by partnering with teachers and developers to provide the world’s best virtual classroom built by teachers, for teachers.

      You can see how the project is improving BigBlueButton across these four dimensions in our on-demand InstructureCon 2022 presentation.

      Coming updates by Instructure for BigBlueButton classrooms

      The integration of BigBlueButton within Canvas is leveling up.  
       
      Based on feedback from teachers, and working closely with Blindside Networks, Instructure is making the following enhancements to the built-in Canvas integration for BigBlueButton.

      1. Enable Waiting Room - Teachers can prevent students from joining a BigBlueButton session until they approve them
      2. Easily add to Calendar - Easily a calendar entry while creating a conference
      3. Set you classroom defaults - Set key defaults, such mute all microphones and prevent private chat, so they are automatically applied when your session starts
      4. Synchronize attendees for late joiners - Give permission for all late joiners to the course to see and join previously created conferences.

      Here’s a design of the new interface.  There will be a new tabbed interface in the Conferences dialog.

       The work on the updated interface is in progress and is expected to be released later this year.

      You can see more details (and screenshots) of these coming improvements in our InstructureCon 2022  on-demand-session.