Introduction to online lecturing in Canvas conferences

You can give an online lecture using Canvas Conferences (BigBlueButton). As a teacher in the Canvas course, you have full control over your online lectures. We strongly recommend hosting sessions of 100 users (or less), as performance will degrade if you have a larger number of participants.

The Canvas Conferences tool includes:

Basic features:

  • Video and audio communication to give a personal touch.
  • Powerpoint presentation to teach online.
  • Chat allows students to discuss topics for the whole group or answer individual questions.

Advanced features:

  • Polls can be created on the fly to assess the understanding of particular concepts. This is a great tool to keep students engaged with your online lectures. Be aware that polls are not anonymous if you record a session because the poll answers of students can be viewed in the statistics. Therefore we advise not to use polls for confidential questions.
  • Multi-User White Board includes annotation tools for illustrating ideas and explaining processes.
  • Break Out Rooms can be used for smaller group activities and discussions (max. 8 breakout rooms).

Technical requirements AND ADVICE

For both moderators/presenters* and participants

  • Desktop/Laptop: The latest version of Chrome or Firefox
  • Mobile iOS (12.2+): Safari
  • Mobile Android (6.0+): Chrome
  • If you want to use screensharing: this only works on a desktop/laptop.  
  • Good internet connection
  • Using a headset is recommended (employees can request one here)

Take these steps to optimize the technical conditions you can influence on your client to minimize problems:

  • Close all other (unused) programs like email, Word, Excel or Teams.
  • A running full scan of your virus programme can ask a lot of your CPU and memory. If possible, postpone or temporarily interrupt a running full scan during the conference.
  • Turn off your UT VPN connection
  • Close other browser tabs, they do take resources and might interfere with your session
  • Clear your browser cache and history
  • If possible connect with a cable to your router, instead of WIFI
  • If sound drops appear, refresh your browser window
  • If an external video is shared by the presenter, participants often have to start the video as well on their end since autostart is not always enabled in a browser.

*Additional advice for moderators/presenters

  • Control what your viewers can do in your conference session
  • Convert your slides to a PDF file and test them to prevent surprises
  • If sound drops appear, refresh your browser window and inform students about this
  • Only share one webcam if you have a large number of participants.

How to start

1. Enable ‘Conferences’ in CANVAS

Go to your Course in Canvas.
Make sure the 'Conferences' link is enabled for students in your course navigation.
For more information see: How do I manage Course Navigation links?

2. Get familiar

Create a practice conference for yourself without inviting all course members. 
For more information see: How do I create a conference in a course?
You can also watch a video introduction:

3. Plan your online lecture

It’s best to wait with creating the conference for the lecture untill (almost) all students have enrolled in your course. Otherwise, it may happen that not all students have access to the conference. Background: when you select the checkbox ‘invite all course members’ during creation of the conference, it means that you invite the users that are enrolled in the course at that moment. The list of invited members will not be updated automatically when new students enroll in the course. That means that student that were enrolled in the course after you created the conference, will not see the link to the conference.

Inform your students in advance about the date and time of the session and when the link to the conference will be available.
Include instructions for the students using this link: a link to information about Conferences from a student perspective. 

You can also share this video with your students:

4. Check and update invited course members

It's good practice to check if the list of invited students is complete half an hour or so before the conference will start. To do this, click the Edit button of the conference and select the checkbox for not yet invited students. This is especially necessary at the start of the quartile when new students will enroll each day.

5. Start a conference

Use the standard settings to start a conference.
For more information see: How do I start a conference?

6. Record a conference

A Canvas conference can be recorded for playback afterwards. Check how to record a conference

Note: Do not forget to "start recording" once the conference has been started:

Once a recording is finished, it will become available shortly after the Conference is ended and moved to the Concluded conferences. In most cases a recording will take the same amount of time to process as the duration of the live session.

Only students who were invited to the conference can see the link to the recording under Concluded conferences. Members who were invited do not need to attend the live session to see the associated recordings. For not-invited students that should be able to see the recording: you can copy the URL of the recording and publish it somewhere else in your course. To copy the URL:

  1. Click on the triangle before the name of the conference. A 'video' link will appear.
  2. Click on the video link and copy the URL from the browser address bar.
  3. Publish the URL in the course, for example in Modules.

Warning: do not delete a concluded conference if you want to keep the recording, because deleting a conference will also mean that associated recordings will be deleted.
If you want to store the recording only for yourself and remove it in Canvas, then download the recording first: open the recording and right-click within the playback area and choose "Save Video As... . The downloaded video does not include any videos shared using Share video option, nor does it include the chat.  If you also want all the chat messages, you can seek to the end of the recording in the web page and copy-and-paste the final chat.

Premium version

Please note that our university has purchased a premium version of the Canvas Conferencing tools. This includes:

  • Recordings as video files & can be saved locally (right-click in playback and choose 'Save video as ...')
  • Recordings do not expire automatically

Note that meeting statistics are disabled since this functionality is not GDPR compliant.

Need support?

The TELT team is offering live demonstrations of Canvas Conferences. During the 45-minute online meeting, the basic principles of online conferencing will be shown; from uploading your PowerPoint to possibilities for interaction with students. There is ample time to ask questions.

Registration for these sessions is necessary. If you would like to join, please enroll yourself via this Canvas course. Note that new sessions are planned as soon as the waiting list is full.

If you have any questions left, please contact your faculty’s E-Learning Specialist or TELT or consult the manuals: