How to use the Big Blue Button (video conferencing)

HOW TO USE THE BIG BLUE BUTTON

Big Blue Button, or BBB, is an alternative to Zoom. It is free to use, you don't need an account, and there are no time limits on using it. You can read more about the advantages of BBB, especially for security, here. (It also includes a link to this video guide if you prefer visual learning)

Once you have a Mattermost account you can use it call another person in a Direct Message (or a group of up to 7 people in a Group Direct Message), or a whole team in a Channel. This guide shows you how to use it on a laptop or computer, then on a mobile device, and then details on setting up a BBB account.

The easiest way to use the Hub is on a laptop or computer (but you can find a guide for using it on a mobile or tablet further down.) Go to https://auth.extinctionrebellion.org.uk/ and then open Mattermost

Go to the right channel, in the right team. We are using a private channel, DON'T PANIC! in the UK team, as an example.

In the top right hand of the screen you will see the icon for Big Blue Button, and the name will appear if you hover your mouse over it.

Anyone can start a meeting in a channel, but be aware that anyone else in that channel will be able to see and join that meeting. If you want to use Big Blue Button with just one other person, you can do the same thing in a Direct Message with them.

If you are the one starting the meeting you will have to select if you want Recording to be enabled or disabled. This does not mean it will be automatically recorded if you set Allow.

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Once a meeting has begun, you will see the invitation to join the BBB meeting posted into the channel. Click Join Meeting, and a new message will pop up in the channel that is visible only to you. Click here in blue to open BBB and join the call.

When you click that link a new tab will open in your internet browser. It does not sit in a separate app like Zoom. One of the commonest problems people have is closing this tab by accident, but if that happens don't panic! Just go back to Mattermost and re-join.

When you join the call you will be asked to connect your audio and webcam. Select Microphone, and check that if you speak you hear yourself coming back through your device. Don't worry, no-one else can hear this!

Welcome to BBB! This large Welcome screen takes up most of the window, but if you click the blue box in the top right corner it will go away and there will be more space to see other people on the call. Down the left hand side you can see who else has joined, and if they are connected to video and audio, and the Public Chat column.

If you can't see the columns on the left that look for the little person icon in the top left corner and click that to open them up.

In the main window you will see a few blue buttons, and this is where you can control your Audio and Video. Click the microphone to mute or un-mute yourself.

The button that looks like a video camera is to turn on your webcam. Like your audio when you first use it there will be a pop-up window where you can choose your settings, and give you a preview screen. It will automatically detect your camera, so unless you want to choose a different webcam, just click Start Sharing

To screen share on BBB you have to follow a couple of steps. Unlike Zoom where one person is the host and has control over the whole call, everyone is equal on BBB. Look for the blue button at the bottom of the screen with a + in it. Click this, and you will get the option to Take Presenter. Once you have done this you will get an extra option next to your video and audio buttons to Share your screen.

Once screen sharing begins it will give you a delightful "rabbit hole" effect of windows within windows -- don't worry, once you switch to a different tab or window this will disappear -- just don't use the BBB tab to open the website you want to share, or you will automatically come out of the session!

Note that you cannot seem to screen share on a mobile device.

There are a few other options if you click the three vertical dots in the top right hand of the window.

At the end of the meeting you can go here to End meeting or Leave meeting -- or you can just close the tab in your browser and you will have left! Once everyone has left the meeting, even if no-one clicks End, it will automatically finish.

You can have a meeting on BBB for as long as you like, there is no time limit.

BIG BLUE BUTTON ON A MOBILE

Using a mobile or tablet, got to the Mattermost app (server address is https://organise.earth/ and you will need to log in with your Mattermost/Hub email and password.) Go to the team and channel - as with the example above, we are using the DON'T PANIC channel in the UK team, but you will want to go to the channel you need.

Just like on the laptop/computer version you will be able to see the meeting has been started by the messages in the channel. Click Join Meeting and then the blue word here that will appear just for you. BBB will open in your internet browser app, not in the Mattermost app.

You will need to confirm your microphone and camera settings -- it will detect them automatically from your device, so you don't need to change anything.