How to: use Conferences in Canvas

Canvas, Collaborations, Conferences, How to, Learning Activities & Content, LMS, Tutorial Leave a Comment

What are Conferences?

Conferences is the tool that allows teachers to conduct real-time virtual lectures with all students in a course.  Users can broadcast real-time audio and video, demonstrate applications, share presentation slides and online resources.  Canvas uses BigBlueButton which is a web conferencing system designed for online learning.

How do I set up a Conferences in Canvas?

To start a conference in Canvas follow the steps below:

  1. In the left hand course navigation menu click Conferences.
  2. Click the add (+) Conference link.
  3. In the New Conference Window enter:
    1. Name of the conference
    2. The duration (in minutes) for the conference
    3. If you wish to record the conference, select enable recording for this conference.
    4. If there is no time limit, select no time limit (this is for long conferences).
    5. A description for the conference.
    6. If you are inviting all users in the course to join the conference, select invite all course members.  If you deselect this option you will be presented with the list of users to choose from.
    7. Click Update.

How do I start a Conference?

To start a conference:

  1. In the left hand course navigation menu click Conferences.
  2. Next to the conference you want to start, click the Start button.
  3. Canvas will direct you to the conference room for your conference.
The web-conferencing tool used by Blackboard is Collaborate which is also a real-time, multi-functional virtual classroom or web conferencing environment.

Some of the main differences are as below:

  • In Blackboard, users (students) are required to install the Blackboard Collaborate launcher to access sessions and recordings.
  • In Blackboard Collaborate, sessions should not run for more than 60 minutes.

Should you wish to use Collaborate rather than the Canvas Conferences tool, you can choose Collaborate Ultra from the left hand course navigation menu instead.

To learn more about how to use the conference interface click here.


  • Conference invitations are sent out when the conference is created.
  • If you wish to alert users about upcoming conferences, you can create an event in the Calendar.
  • Conferences can accommodate up to 50 people.


Is there a web-conferencing tool?

Yes, there are two.

You can use either Collaborate Ultra, or BigBlueButton which is listed in the course navigation as Conferences. BigBlueButton has a simpler interface and is easy to get around, but the recordings are only kept for two weeks. It’s a good option for online consultation times or any other quick web conferencing experience that doesn’t need to be recorded or kept. If you need to retain the recordings, best to use Collaborate Ultra.

To learn more about Collaborate Ultra read Collaboration and Canvas: Blackboard Collaborate: Ultra experience

To learn how to set up a conference, visit How to: use Conferences in Canvas.

To learn how to join a conference, visit “How do I join a conference“.


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