Moodle + BigBlueButton = Awesome

Ask an you will receive. Two days ago I posted about discovering BigBlueButton and wondered if there was a way to integrate it into Moodle. Yep, there is. Thanks to Luc, Fred, and Denis who were kind enough to post in the comments where I could find one.

The eLearning company Dual Code makes a GPLed module that connects Moodle to your BigBlueButton server. Once it is installed things are simple. A teacher can add a BigBlueButton assignment that will create a room on the BigBlueButton server.

BigBlueButton Assignment. It's that easy.

Just fill out the information and you are good to go.

Once the teacher has created the room students will be able to enter it by clicking on the assignment under Moodle. The room will be closed until a moderator enters the room. This is great to make sure there is always someone there for the students and so students can’t accidently go in as a moderator.

Setting it up on your Moodle server.

  1. Download the plug-in from http://www.dualcode.com/bigbluebutton/
  2. Unzip the directory and you will find two folders: lang and mod
  3. In the mod folder you will find a folder called bigbluebutton. As an adminstrator put this folder into the mod directory of your Moodle server. It is at the top level of your Moodle directory. This provides the functionality of the module.
  4. In the lang folder you will find a folder called en_utf8. In that folder you will see a file called bigbluebutton.php. That file need to go to the same location on your Moodle server (yourmoodleinstall/lang/en_utf8/bigbluebutton.php). This provides the language files we need to make it work.
  5. In the lang folder you will find a folder called en_utf8. In that folder you will see another folder called help. Open it an you will see a folder called bigbluebutton. Copy the folder to the same location on your server (yourmoodleinstall/lang/en_utf8/help/bigbluebutton). This provide the help files when you click on a question mark in Moodle.
  6. Login as administrator and go to Notifications. Moodle will detect the module and take care of everything else.
  7. Go to Modules > Activities > Manage Activities. You can click the eye to give teachers access to BigBlueButton.
  8. Click Settings beside BigBlueButton. We need to tell Moodle a few things about our BigBlueButton server.
  9. Make sure you click the “I am hosting my own BigBlueButton Server”
  10. Input the IP address of your BigBlueButton server.
  11. Input the Security Salt from your BigBlueButton server. You can find this in a file called “bigblueutton.properties” on your BigBlueButton server. On my Ubuntu server I found it at /var/lib/tomcat6/webapps/bigbluebutton/WEB-INF/classes/bigbluebutton.properties. The security salt string you are looking for can be found after beans.dynamicConferenceService.securitySalt=your_number_here. Input that long string of numbers and letter to the field in Moodle.
  12. Put a star in the Meeting IDs field. That will allow an unlimited number of rooms be created. You can also put any number here to restrict how many rooms on your BigBlueButton server you want going at one time. This can be helpful for performance issues.
  13. You should now be able to start a room by choosing it as an assignment.

Have fun out there folks.

Getting the GeoGebra filter working in Moodle

This morning I installed the GeoGebra filter onto our colleges Moodle server. It didn’t work. After a bit of research I found that the current version available on the Moodle site contains an older version of GeoGebra. This causes trouble. A few more minutes of Google-fu uncovered a modified version of the Moodle GeoGebra module which uses the .jar from geogebra.org. It worked! You can get it right here. Below are the instructions to get it working on your Moodle server.

A modified version of the moodle geogebra module which uses the .jar from geogebra.org

Using the geogebra filter makes it a lot easier to embed geogebra worksheets into
moodle online documents.

How it works:
During installation of the filter the file geogebra.jar will be placed in the moodle central folder and registered at the Moodle system. Teachers will be able to embed previously uploaded *.ggb (Geogebra) files into a moodle online document simply by creating a link to the ggb file using (as usual) the link symbol in the editor bar.
As an option you will be able to customize width and height of the applet. When saving the document, the link will be automatically converted in HTML-Code, which will display the applet instead of the link.

Installation: (by Moodle Admin)
1. Upload the complete folder “geogebra” into the folder  moodle–>filter
2. In Moodle, navigate to Moodle->Administration->Configuration->”Filter” and click on the entry
“geogebra” to activate the filter

Usage:
1. In a Moodle course: -> Add a resource ->compose a website
2. Write content. At the position the applet should appear, create a link to the (previously uploaded) *.ggb file.
a Write some link text
b Select the link text.
c Click the chain icon ì in the tool bar of the editor.
3. In the appearing small Window choose your .ggb file. (Change folder, if necessary.)
4. Optionally: At the end of the link text type values for width and height of the applet according to the following  pattern: myfile.ggbwidth=600height=300 (Default values 400×400)
5, Close the window

Be aware of the fact, that you dont’t see the applet unless you leave the editor and save your document.
On reopening it later, you will notice the link rather than the applet.

What I am looking forward to in Moodle 2.0

Ah, the smell of Moodle 2.0 is in the air. Birds are chirping, flowers are blooming, and pure awesomeness is right around the corner.

I have been using Moodle since version 1.4 and have loved it the entire way. I have recently been playing with the yet-to-be-released version and it is certainly going to be worthy of the shiny new 2.0. Even though Moodle 2.0 isn’t even in beta yet (currently the beta is scheduled for a February 2010 release) the development version shows the direction the project is headed and there are many new things that Moodle users are going to love. I thought I would share some of the features I am most excited about. Continue reading

ATM Replacement

If you hadn’t heard, the ATM system is not going be around after June 30th, 2009. This really wasn’t a surprise as the contracts to support the system were up. We have a bunch of people at the college using ATM to deliver courses, so we need to have another way to deliver content.

I think most people have accepted online asynchronous courses as a valid way to teach, however, they still want face to face instruction. ATM, even with it’s technical problems, provided somewhat of a face to face environment.

I am looking at a few options to “replace” ATM. One I think has potential is Dimdim. I really don’t want to use the words web conference to refer to it because that usually brings up negative connotations. Lots of people have sat in a WebEx session while bored to tears. My initial reaction to Dimdim is very positive and it could very well be the direction I decide to go for providing faculty with a partial replacement for ATM.

Some of the features I like:

  • Great Moodle integration. The module doesn’t just link to their service. Anyone could do that. Their module can control of the the settings to set up a meeting. That makes things way easier to get technophobes on board.
  • No installs required. If they have flash install they are good to go. In the YouTube era, everyone has flash installed.
  • Built on Open Source. They even have an Open Source version you can use. If you know me, that is pretty rad.
  • You can share your Desktop with the group. Great for times when you need to show something specific to your class.
  • Can share presentations and whiteboard with the attendees.
  • Easily broadcast video to the group. Can change the camera to any of the attendees.

I don’t see this being the sole way to deliver content though. Only because it doesn’t completely replace the wealth of learning activities available through online learning environments like Moodle. However, it does give a face to the teacher and allows some kind of meeting area for real-time discussion. I will keep you updated on what I decide to do.