Is Remote Learning The Future? | Global Pandemic & Distance Learning

Is Remote Learning the future?

The global pandemic has impacted the education industry on a international scale. With many schools, colleges and universities closed in an attempt to shield students and educators from Covid-19, technology has been helping to keep courses running and exams taking place. Unfortunately, many aspects of college life have changed for students around the world, due to the global pandemic. Students are no longer able to mingle and hang out on campus, and many professors have been asked to adapt to new social distancing guidelines, changing the way they deliver lessons.

The traditional way of teaching students, often involving seminars, lecture halls and professor and student interaction has changed. But, although we are no longer able to teach in person, many would argue that distance learning has actually transformed the education industry for the better. With help from video call technology and instant messaging software, more students than ever before are being able to study at a time and place that suits them. In this article, we’re going to explore the benefits of remote learning and how video call software such as is helping to pave the way for a more digital education industry.

How the Global Pandemic Has Changed The Education Industry

In order to protect both students and education professionals from the global pandemic, many colleges have taken their lessons and courses online. Remote learning, usually reserved for mature students, or those unable to travel to a university or college, has now become the new norm when it comes to education. Rather than move city to attend your college of choice, many students this year have saved themselves time and money by accessing lectures and course material virtually. With a stable and reliable internet connection and a laptop or tablet device, students are able to continue learning while practicing social distancing.

Remote learning made possible by technology such as video call scheduling software and instant messaging apps has certainly helped to open up the education system to many students who wouldn’t necessarily be able to attend college in person. With a distinctive rise in e-learning due to the global pandemic, more students who would typically be at a disadvantage due to childcare responsibilities, conflicting schedules with their full-time job, and those who live too far away from a college, are now able to pursue further education.

In fact, research suggests that online learning helps to increase how well students digest information during lessons, perform in college exams and attend class. There is no doubt that the global pandemic and the rise of remote learning has enabled students from all walks of life to attend lectures, submit coursework on time, and perform far better at college, and this is something we should be celebrating and trying to push for the future.

Benefits of Distance Learning

Distance learning has many advantages, some we’ve already mentioned. Creativity is often capped when working in a stale classroom environment and remote learning can help to inspire students. Subjects that require creative expression such as English, Drama, Art and Graphic Design are best taught by nurturing a student’s imagination and freedom of expression, and online learning can achieve this far better than in a formal environment. By bringing lessons to student’s at home, those on a video call with their professor, for example, can learn from eachother and have a better understanding of different walks of life and the real world. Being able to see where other students live, gives people a bit of a snapshot into their fellow student’s lives, and helps create more well-rounded individuals.

Distance learning also helps students to save money, by living at home, without judegement from others, and provides access to family support, guidance and encouragement. For those able to travel and learn on the go, remote learning has certainly changed the way we look at education and a typical student lifestyle. For mature students in particular, online learning enables parents, professionals and entrepreneurs to further their education without being required to attend a college, or physically be based in one city or state.

Online Learning & Video Call Software

Video call software such as , empowers students and educators to overcome any obstacles and teach remotely. Helping professors become more time-efficient and productive, and students able to attend video recorded lectures, technology is certainly making remote learning easier than ever.

Let’s hear how Sarbjit Sarkaria, a sessional lecturer at the University of British Columbia has become a better professor thanks to virtual office hours and video calling software. Sarbjit has been using urLive services as an education professional for several years now, and in response to the global pandemic, continues to use this powerful software to bring lessons and one to one support directly to his students.

Even before Covid-19 hit, I discovered that virtual office hours saved me time, made me more available to my students and increased their engagement with me and the course material. Now that we’re still in the global pandemic, virtual office hours seem to me to be the only way forward and I want to share what I’ve learned to hold effective virtual office hours and save time.

As a sessional computer-science/AI lecturer who also has a day job, I’m like a professor who parachutes in, teaches class, helps my students to the extent that I can while I’m there and then leaves. If I want to hold office hours, it means driving out to the university and having people line up to meet with me. It may also mean that the students must either make the trek from their dorms or from home to speak with me. It’s not ideal for either of us. This is where video call software comes in.

I do try to help many students as much as possible during class, but the only real times to do that are before class, during breaks and at the end. The challenge is that I can’t give everyone the time they need, and by the end, both I and my students are tired from a long day.

Some shier students are also not willing to either raise their hands in class or participate as actively as I would like. As someone who is committed to stimulating young minds, I found this disheartening.

When I did hold office hours in person, much like trying to help students in class, both I and the student felt time pressure to finish. After all, there was a line-up of other students waiting in the hallway and some people simply take longer to grasp concepts than others. Other students wanted help but simply were not available to come during the hours I was offering.

Coincidentally, I had been advising an early-stage company that had an easy way of allowing individuals and small groups to connect over video, audio or instant message. Holding office hours remotely seemed like it was worth trying. I discussed the idea with the company, urLive, and over time I helped them to refine the concept. One thing they added was a scheduling service that would allow me to set hours for when I would be available. Students could then book a time slot that worked for them.

Both I and the students appreciated that we could now do our calls from wherever we were located. I sometimes took my calls from my office and other times from home. The students were able to show me their assignments and we could collaborate on these via the shared screen feature. Both scheduling and making calls was simple and easy to do because students didn’t have to download or install yet another piece of software. They simply clicked on my permanent link and voila, we were talking.

Interestingly, students that had never come to office hours before were booking time slots with me. I was able to engage with more students and support their learning. Both student and instructor felt a greater sense of accomplishment and connection.

I don’t know when the global pandemic will end, and even when it does, I’m not sure that my students nor I will want to return to in-person office hours in the future – virtual ones are simply far too convenient.

Sarbjit Sarkaria is a sessional lecturer at the University of British Columbia where he teaches in the faculty of Electrical Engineering. He is also the head data architect at Finning Digital. Dr. Sarkaria holds a Ph. D. in Computer Science and is an advisor to urLive. He can be reached at

If you would like to learn more about the benefits of using to deliver powerful remote, online learning visit

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