Connecting the UBC Teaching and Learning Community Remotely at a Global Scale

Connecting the UBC Teaching and Learning Community Remotely at a Global Scale

by Winnie Wan and Mark Montgomery

There’s no argument that the transition to remote teaching and learning was a whirlwind the past year and a half. Let’s take a look at some of the tools and services that UBC depended on and how they evolved to help us stay connected, and to communicate and share information to one another across the globe.

Accessing UBC Applications and Resources

Ability to access UBC applications and resources remotely in a secure way has been essential in the past year and a half. Maintaining services like the Virtual Private Network to support the increased day-to-day traffic was pivotal on ensuring the UBC community could continue their studies and work.

UBC Virtual Private Network

The UBC VPN network recorded a significant increase of traffic in the 2020/2021 academic year compared to the year before.

VPN Connections

Geographically Apart, Connected by Technology

No matter where you are, UBC wants to ensure you can continue to learn and work with your peers and/or colleagues without disruption. The following are examples of tools that were introduced to address concerns with physical distance and collaboration, and continuity for teaching and learning.

Alibaba Global Accelerator

With over 18,000 international students from 166 countries, UBC has a strong global community. To support students from China and other international destinations, Alibaba Global Accelerator was launched in September 2020 to ensure overseas students have the bandwidth and service reliability to connect to their UBC online courses.

Remote Labs

It would be a challenge to use software from labs if you’re not on campus. Luckily, Remote Labs was introduced in August 2020 to provide access to public workstations and computer labs.


One of the tools that we heavily relied on to host lectures, meetings, and events is Zoom. Within the first week of transitioning to a remote environment, Zoom was offered to the UBC community.


COVID-19 changed the way celebrations could be held. Panopto, an all-in-one video platform that allows video recording, webcasting, and video content management, was chosen to use to stream UBC’s virtual graduation ceremony for fall 2020 and spring 2021. With this option, everyone in your family can attend this celebration regardless of where they are in the world.

Microsoft Teams

Launched in August 2020, Microsoft Teams is a collaboration tool part of the Microsoft 365 suite that allows groups to create content and share information they need to work together. Features such as instant messaging and video conferencing helps you connect with your peers and colleagues from anywhere in the world.

Microsoft OneDrive

Launched in August 2020, in combination with Microsoft Teams, Microsoft OneDrive is a file hosting and synchronization service that allows users to securely store, share, and synchronize files and folders anywhere at anytime.

iClicker Cloud

Part of the quintessential in-person classroom learning experience are the opportunities to respond to quizzes and polls live. To support remote classroom learning, iClicker Cloud was offered in September 2020 to substitute the physical iClicker tool.


The media platform, Kaltura saw a significant increase in usage when we transitioned to a remote platform in early 2020. Recordings of events, instructional videos, and presentations were heavily used to support teaching, learning, and administrative activities.

Comparison March 2019 – Feb 2020 and March 2020 – 2021
Item 2020 – 2021 (During COVID-19) 2019 - 2020 (Before COVID-19 % Change
Player Impressions 18,714,289 1,898,504 +885.74%
Plays 5,775,668 528,201 +993.46%
Unique Viewers 58,865 14,835 +296.8%
Minutes Viewed (VOD) 59,876,159 3,459,878 +1630.59%

Giving You a Toolbox

It’s hard to know where to start when you need to transition from an in-person environment to a remote one in a matter of few days. UBC's Learning Technology (LT) Hub, a partnership between UBC IT and the Centre for Teaching Learning and Technology (CTLT), created new resource webpages with instructional guides and list of available tools, and redesigned their website to improve your online experience.

Keep Teaching

To ensure faculty were equipped with the proper resources to transition their classes online, the Keep Teaching website was launched on March 16, 2020 as the go-to place for faculty to get support. 74,377 page views

Keep Learning

Following the launch of the Keep Teaching website, the Keep Learning website went live on May 7, 2020 as a resource hub for students to learn effectively online and understand the technologies used at UBC.

Learning Technology Hub Website

With the dependence on online resources, reliable user experience and support documentation were more important than ever. The LT Hub website was redesigned in 2020 for faculty and staff to enhance their experience on exploring learning technology tools available to them at UBC. New features included a new tool finder section and an expanded list of tools.

Supporting You Wherever You Are

Ensuring that support for technology and learning were accessible to you regardless of where you resided in the world was essential as adopting new tools and adapting to a different environment can be especially challenging during a pandemic. In addition to transitioning front-line support teams to a 100% remote work environment, UBC increased its online resources and hired more staff to answer your inquiries.

Learning Technology Hub

With the partnership with CTLT and IT, the LT Hub offers one-stop approach to both functional and technical support to faculty and staff on learning technology tools, such as Canvas, Qualtrics, and UBC Wiki. Since transitioning to remote support, they saw a 77% increase in tickets from 2019 to 2020.

UBC IT Help Desk

Since transitioning to a remote environment, the UBC IT Help Desk received a significant increase in tickets, with a large number of them focused on Campus-Wide Login and Email.