Mike Snider, curriculum consultant with the Yukon Department of Education, teaches some iPad skills to Yukon teachers in Whitehorse on Jan. 15. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Yukon teachers get a lesson in new technology

Technology training allows educators more accessible options in the classroom

It’s a typical classroom scene at Elijah Smith Elementary School on Jan. 15: a teacher at the front of the class guides students as they navigate the features of an iPad.

In this case though there is one distinct difference from your typical elementary school classroom.

The more than 20 students in the class are Yukon teachers from a variety of schools around Whitehorse as well as a couple from communities outside of Whitehorse who are taking the training online.

The training provided from Apple Canada is aimed at ensuring each school in the territory has staff that knows the ins and outs of the products so that learning is accessible to all. It’s part of a broader effort to ensure staff are aware of the resources available to their students.

That means learning about the First Voices Keyboard app for Indigenous languages, a Draw and Tell feature which allows younger students to draw and record their voice to show what they are learning and Book Creator which allows users to use a variety of media (text, audio and video) to create stories, digital books and more.

In the Yukon, most students have access to iPads to some degree depending on their grade level and class.

The teacher training is part of an overall effort by the territory’s Department of Education to ensure teachers know how to use the resources available to make learning more accessible and provide more learning opportunities in a variety of areas.

There might be a student who has a learning disability and has trouble communicating in writing, said Mike Snider, curriculum consultant with the Yukon Department of Education in a Jan. 15 interview.

The Clips feature allows anyone to take a short video that transcribes what it hears as the words are being said. There are a number of other features that can help students who have vision problems or may have various learning challenges, he said.

The Jan. 15 day-long session was aimed at ensuring each school has an educator equipped with the skills to know what features might be available to assist students dealing with challenges.

“We’ve got all these tools,” Snider said, adding Yukon schools are fortunate to have much of the technology needed to make learning more accessible.

The territory made investments over the years to have that technology in place so officials want to make sure that investment is used wisely, Snider said.

Technology in the classroom has come a long way since Snider began his career in education. He recalled when he started teaching in the United States about 18 years ago, the best he could do to bring computer technology to the class was to essentially “take garbage” – older computers people were getting rid of and refurbish them into a usable piece of equipment, used mainly as something students could type on.

“The connectivity wasn’t there,” he said. Even having a projector in the classroom was a bonus in those days.

As tablets became more accessible, the issue then moved to schools accessing them and then it was not having enough to go around. Now schools in the territory have the equipment and a long list of apps and resources are available to teachers.

“iPads completely changed the way everything worked,” Snider said.

Snider’s goal is to have a community of teacher leaders in the territory armed with the resources to help others at the school navigate those tools to find what is needed for their students.

The demands of teaching, dealing with individual student issues and parent concerns often leave little room for educators to explore a long list of apps, he said.

Having at least one staffer at the school familiar with what’s available means when another teacher is looking for a resource, a suggestion can be made for the program or app that will assist the student rather than the teacher having to spend a lot of time trying to find something that will help.

Along with the resources aimed at making learning more accessible, teachers at the Jan. 15 training sessions were also introduced to the “Everyone Can Create” series that provides opportunities to learn skills in art, music (including using music to teach literacy and numeracy), videos and/or photography.

Snider, who would later lead a session on the music part of the program, said the program allows teachers who may not have skills directly in those subjects to facilitate learning through the programs.

Snider said in his experience once teachers are aware of the features available they’re amazed by the options that can help in the class.

“Creating that awareness is the challenge,” he said.

For Katina Bernier, a Grade 7 student at Elijah Smith Elementary, having technology in the classroom is a key part of her learning.

“I find it’s really helped me,” she said.

Some programs like Clips have made it easier for her to explain her thinking and what she has learned in class, she said. Her class has also incorporated apps as part of the work in detailing the steps required and findings for science experiments.

Bernier said as she looks ahead to high school, she’d like to have more opportunities to use technology in her classes and would specifically like to learn more about coding.

The Jan. 15 training session is just one of a number of opportunities for teachers to see what’s available through various technologies. In February another event will focus on Microsoft tools aimed at increasing engagement, efficiency and developing skills in the classroom, with another session later in the month aimed at using the Minecraft game as a learning tool.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at


Yukon Teachers Association

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The aesthetics and economics of highway strips

One of the many cultural experiences you enjoy while driving from Whitehorse… Continue reading

Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone.
Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone. (Submitted)
Yukon kids express gratitude for nature, pets and friends in art campaign

More than 50 children submitted artwork featuring things they are grateful for

Team Yukon skip Laura Eby, left, directs her team as Team Northern Ontario skip Krysta Burns looks on at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary on Feb. 22. (Jeff McIntosh/CP)
Team Yukon reports positive experience at Scotties

Team Yukon played their final game at the national championship in Calgary on Thursday afternoon

A sign indicating a drop-off area behind Selkirk Elementary school in Whitehorse on Feb. 25. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Parking lot proposal for Selkirk Elementary criticized

Parents and school council are raising concerns about green space and traffic woes


Wyatt’s World for Feb. 26, 2021

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

Most Read