July 19th, 2013 Business

freesurveymonkeyHaving an LMS that can deliver course content is all well and good – but sometimes you need to have a live, virtual training session. For a long time (and arguably still), the leader in this field has been GoToMeeting. I personally have used it in the past for conducting consulting calls. I feel that their services is pretty good, but it isn’t ideal for everyone – particularly educational institutions. Another growing player in this space is Join.me. I have not used them from a meeting admin perspective, but the attendee experience is well done.

If you’re looking for an alternative to GoToMeeting, and perhaps some more interactivity built in for actually delivery classes, then you need to check out this open-source program: Big Blue Button. Big Blue Button allows you to run courses and encourage interaction through a variety of tools. Better yet, it’s free!

The real kicker is that they also have a WordPress plugin, so you could use it with LearnDash to deliver live training sessions as well as your pre-made ones – the best of both worlds 🙂 … For example, you could have one or two pre-requisite courses created that users have to take prior to getting to your live session. This will ensure that all your participants are on the same page by the time they get to the main course. This also gives you the opportunity to capture FAQs prior to the training so that you can adjust your presentation accordingly.

So if you haven’t already, head on over to the Big Blue Button site and check out this great, free tool.

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About Justin Ferriman

Justin Ferriman started LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide for creating (and selling) their online courses. Justin's Homepage | Twitter

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As usual, Justin, you have great tips. I’m going to check out the Big Blue Button WirdPress plugin And one thing that is so great about LearDash is how hard and steady you have
worked to continuously enhance it, add to it, grow it. Very impressive.

Hi David-
Thank you very much for the comment and kind words. I had some time to play around with Big Blue Button and was pretty impressed. I’ve used quite a variety of live training programs, mostly the “big guns” (Adobe, MeetingPlace, etc.)… they do a good job covering the necessities and adding some extra useful features.

Yes BBB looks good…BUT:
1. You have to run it (and set it up) on your own server… and you’ll need a decent dedicated server if you want reliable connections and the ability to video conference/screenshare. There are hosted options for BBB starting at about $20/month for shared hosting (but I doubt that would provide enough bandwidth for multiple users). A dedicated BBB server is about $100/month.
2. It’s flash based so no mobile access (nearly all the other viable alternatives have dedicated mobile apps).

We’ve tested the various conferencing options extensively (FuseBox & WizIQ are 2 hosted solutions worth a look), but every time we came back to Go To Meeting because it just works: they have the bandwidth to be able to actually use the video conferencing and screensharing options, audio is clear and it’s very simple to use because you’re just basically sharing your screen. Go To Meeting has occasional deals for $29/month per user, but even at $50/month normal pricing, it’s worth the money.

WizIQ is also worth a look as it is designed specifically for educational use (they have decent multi-user pricing too). However, WizIQ, despite recent improvements, has limited bandwidth – it’s just not practical to use the audio and screensharing at the same time. You can upload some content types to their server and display them to students, bypassing the need to share your screen so reducing bandwidth to reliable levels, but files such as PPT’s or Articulate either won’t work or loose some of their formatting. So if you’re using some basic doc types (MP3, PDF, Word) for your lesson material and mainly need audio conferencing, WizIQ is probably the cheapest option. And, as it was built for education, they have some useful user management and class/lesson organisation features (and a WP plugin to take bookings from your WP site).

One final note: mobile access/use with the GTM mobile app is awesome. Many of the test lessons we ran were with users on iOS devices (it wasn’t planned that way, but a lot of users wanted mobile access) and connectivity and audio quality were just as good as on a desktop. I believe with the latest version of the GTM app, you can also ‘present’ from mobile devices so all users on the conference can now be mobile.

Avatar Peter

Agree with Peter 100+%. I tried to use BBB a couple of years ago, and the server costs were prohibitively high. Haven’t found the perfect tool yet.
* Adobe Connect – expensive; doesn’t support PowerPoint animations; can’t share control; students with slow internet experience problems
* Wiziq – in an on-and-off relationship with them since 2007 – would be the best if the audio were better; reasonably priced
* ClickMeeting – this is my emergency exit, cheap, OK for 1-2-1 sessions
* testing Wigio – too good or too new to be (still?) free?

Avatar Elena

Thank you for the great review Peter.
We are also using GoToMeeting and are very pleased with it, but are looking for other solution since we need many presenters (expensive licensing model for GoToMeeting).

Been testing Teamviewer.com and it looks very promising. Have you tested Teamviewer? (Both hosted and server licensing is available).

Avatar Torgrim

Hi Torgrim,
i’d recommend hammering your sales rep at Citrix.
tell them where the price point needs to be to give you the right ROI and see what they can do.


Avatar Huw

Hi Justin,

I’m the project manager for BigBlueButton. Thanks for covering us in your blog! We’ve been working on BigBlueButton now for over four. We want to provide a viable open source alternative to proprietary web conferencing systems.

We also support the WordPress plugin, along with the Moodle, Sakai, and others. We want to make it easy for others to integrate BigBlueButton with their open source projects.

We’re working on an HTML5 client, which will provide access from some mobile devices as well. If anyone is interested, they can follow our progres in the blog at our web site.

Warm regards,… Fred

BigBlueButton developer

BBB is only suitable for Ubuntu servers. Is that so?

Avatar jitesh

Free is nice, but you get what you pay for… I use RHUB’s service b/c you buy it once and have no monthly fees. And I also appreciate how RHUB’s device is an all-in-one appliance that gives you Web meeting capabilities and remote support all bundled together.

Hi Justin,

If you’re ever looking into further alternatives for online meetings and elearning, please drop by our website. Mikogo is great for online meetings, web presentations and remote support. The Mikogo HTML Viewer is an alternative way to join a meeting without any downloads, Flash, Java or ActiveX. It’s free to download and use – so feel free to take it for a spin! If you later want to use it for business use and need all the business features, we have a few different paid plan options.

Andrew Donnelly
The Mikogo Team

Great, thanks for the share Andrew.

Hi Andrew,

I checked out your site. The service looks promising and I am actually debating using it in my site. Do you by chance have a Learndash integration for it? Or something even half baked would be great … I can finish it up per my needs 🙂


Avatar Nalin Singal

Hey Justin,

MeetingBurner is another option for free online meetings in the cloud. There is a forever free account that accommodates 10 participants (or paid accounts for up to 1000).

There are no ads, which is nice, and it’s fast and easy to use. You can attend from a mobile device as well.

Another one for the list!


Avatar Alan Saltz

Thanks Alan. Had a look at their plans and it’s kind of a let down that they don’t have free VOIP (calls over the computer/internet) and emailing of meeting attendees. Seems to be a necessity for many.

A very nice blog and better comments as well provides me with a lot of options to explore. But , I am really worried about bandwidth problems other than anything else . I have been using the trail for Adobe Connect but it seems to be a bit heavy since connection takes time . Since i am not from a very high bandwidth providing country INDIA . I would like to know if there are any other alternatives which can be integrated into a website easily and at the same time run under low bandwidth speed. How is the open source alternative red 1.0 ?? to what extend can it be customized? And are there any other options which uses a RTMFP (UDP) since it would considerably reduce the requirement of bandwidth speed.

Avatar Gaurav Sarma

Hi Alan,

I need to take online classes with my two to three students in India. Is there any free site/app that allows video chatting, screen sharing and white board options

Avatar Ris

Hello, i installed “invent” in a wordpress area. Invent use LearnDash LMS, but we look for a alternative plug-in to use the theme “invent”. Maybe you can give us a possibility. Thanks for helping.

Avatar Frank

Hi Frank-

Thanks for the note. Invent theme is a nice theme tailored for LearnDash. Happy to suggest more – just submit a note to our help desk.


CreateWebinar is based on BBB platform and it allows mobile access too. It is an online seminar tool that aims to provide various online trainings, conferences, courses and other similar services. If you are a user of BBB like me, you also can use CreateWebinar without downloading or installing any new platform. The control panel uses HTML5 and Flash for access. It gives a chance to run webinars even via phone. Its quite convenient and easy!

Avatar Lily N.

Hi Justin…
I’m in the initial planning phases of my client’s project and Learndash is definitely come up more than a handful of time because of it’s (whats seems to be) seamless integration with WordPress.

I realize this initial post was from 2013 but I’m looking for updated information on implementations that have successfully used LD and BBB together. Is there any documentation related to the subject matter that I could look through? Thank you.

Avatar David

I’m interested in that answer too, as well as ideas on how to have a course using the 2 systems… How would I set up the LD course?

Avatar Marcela Leus

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