An Interview with 3 Canadian EdTech Trainers
𝘾𝙖𝙢𝙢𝙞𝙚: I cover a lot in geographical distance, and that’s where the iorad part comes in really helpful. We have maybe 2500 students and about 210 to 225 teaching staff. So geographically huge, but not big as far as people go. As for me, iorad had been on my list; I have this list of things, tools, I want to try. I spent about five years as a prof at our local college, teaching an edtech course to our pre-service teachers, and with that, I was doing lots of research. In that role I was always looking for new tools and had [iorad] on my list; I’d come across it I’m sure on Twitter, and I’d seen it and thought, “I gotta try that.” Finally, for me I think what happened was it became a tool that was available to us as Google Trainers. When it became something that I could use as a Google Trainer, then it’s “Okay, I’m going to dive in here as a Google Certified Trainer and learn to use it.” Because our district’s small, my job is really broad; I do everything. So when I also ended up doing lots of work with our secretaries and our admin assistants, most of those gals are not super tech savvy. They know their computer; they have the lists on the desk where you click here, you click here. They like that little list of what to do next and next, and iorad solved that for me.
𝘾𝙝𝙧𝙞𝙨: We have about 18,000 students and about 2,000 staff. There’s a lot of stuff going on that really doesn’t interest me, but occasionally there’s a gem that comes out of there, and iorad is definitely one of them. As I started to play with iorad, I thought, “Oh this is cool; there’s a lot of potential here.” And then I kind of started to dig into it. There was definitely a lot of chatter as well in that Google training community group about people who had [already tried iorad]. Since we always have a moderator in our [Cobblestone] sessions, if you’re the moderator you know that some things are going to get 600 questions. It’s always those little things where you’ve got to click on the three dots, and then you’ve got to click on something else, and you got to click on this, and then you got to click on this; you know that somebody’s going to get lost because they weren’t fully paying attention, and that’s where I’ve been using iorad as the solution. I’ve just been recording those little steps, throwing the iorad at my slide decks or throwing them in the chat, and then people can take them away, and they can follow them through in their own time
𝙅𝙚𝙣: Our district is really large. At last check we had 140,000 students, 234–35 schools (maybe more than that now), 12,000 staff …really big. Pre-pandemic, I was K to 12, with a focus on eight or nine of our high schools, and one of our continuing ed schools was an adult day learning school, and iorad was a thing I found out after I was in that role, and I thought, “Where has this been my whole life?” I needed it. But like Cammie talked about, it’s just so invaluable. … we have a similar passion for good products and things that make our lives easier, teachers’ lives easier. And then in turn, you know, engage and empower our students. I co-host the Shukes and Giff The Podcast; I found out about iorad from just some research that I do for the show. I’m constantly looking for new tools and things to share with teachers to make their life easier and just things that I’m like “aha” because our tagline is “take those AHAs and give it a go.” And sure enough I saw this, and I exclaimed, “Oh this is fun! Okay, that’s cool.” It just saves me so much time, and in Shukes and Giff, you know, we talk often about saving those nanoseconds, and this isn’t nanoseconds. This is saving me minutes possibly, over time, hours because all I do is open it up, and I say, “Okay click here, now click here, now click here, especially with really simplistic stuff where there’s not a lot of different options. Last night, for example, I was going through explaining muting and unmuting students in Google Classroom. It’s four steps; I could type it out, but there’s often that teacher who’s, “Oh I just need to see it, or I want to do…, or this isn’t working for me,” and iorad solves that.
It just saves me so much time, and … this isn’t nanoseconds. This is saving me minutes possibly, over time, hours. ~Jen
𝙅𝙚𝙣: I’ve even done it [made an iorad] while I’m showing teachers; “Okay you want to go here and here and here, and then hey, guess what? As we did that, I just created this iorad,” and so I showed them the tool at the same time and what I can do. Then they say things like, “Oh how did you do it? What is that? I want it!” Then they can install it to be able to do it with their own learners right in their own circumstances. I use it because it’s just so darn easy.
𝘾𝙖𝙢𝙢𝙞𝙚: My role as an instructional coach is lots of constantly how-to documents, that kind of thing. A four or five step thing doesn’t always need a video or shouldn’t have a video even, and so I use iorad lots there. I create a newsletter every month for my position, so I always throw in an iorad. I share my iorads mostly through email; it’s when someone asks me, “Oh, how do you do this?” because it’s usually in an email that I receive. I do a quick iorad, and then I send it back with a quick message, “Hey check out this tutorial I made. It’s a great tool. I’d be happy to discuss that further, too; when you learn this, you’ll want to learn about that.”
𝘾𝙝𝙧𝙞𝙨: I’ve used iorads at meet-the-teacher or curriculum nights. This year I made an iorad tutorial [for teachers] on how to get your video up into the tool that we were using for that. I’ve also been using it for the work that I’ve been doing with Cobblestone when we’ve been doing sessions. It’s a great tool to allow people to work through something at their own pace. I’ve also used it with Slack (a team communication platform). I’ve done it [shared iorads] mainly through Google Slides; I’ve embedded it [iorad] into a presentation. If I was going to make a tutorial before iorad, maybe I would have done it in Google Slides, and I would have gone through and taken screenshots and more screenshots. Then I had to put them in [the Slides]. You’ve got to get just the right screenshot. You’ve got to get it; you got to crop it; you gotta throw it in your Slide; then you gotta put what you’re doing next to it; and that’s really time consuming, even just taking the screenshots. And it doesn’t matter what tool you use; I’ve tried out the screenshot editor on my mac. It doesn’t doesn’t matter what you try; they all take time. But what’s nice about using iorad is that you’re doing it, but it’s making the steps for you. So I would have to do it anyway, right? I’m clicking it as I’m doing it, and when I’m done, I now have this beautiful step-by-step set of instructions. It definitely takes a lot less time to deal with iorad than it would to do it manually.
I’m clicking it as I’m doing it, and when I’m done, I now have this beautiful step-by-step set of instructions. ~Chris
𝙅𝙚𝙣: I remember one of the very first iorad tutorials I sent to our head of student services here at Richmond Hill High School, and she said, “I don’t know what that was you just sent me, but that was incredible!” and she thought that I was this genius that had created this whole click here, click here, do this. And she asked, “How did you animate that?” I replied, “Oh no, that’s not me; that’s magic iorad!” So I showed her, and she was then able to do it for her students as well, which iorad is really great for a lot of our students with executive functioning disorders or processing disorders to be able to see and hear and do to meet all those modalities; iorad is really just incredible for that. Also, Live mode might introduce them to a new way to be more efficient or to use a tool. I think it’s one of the things that I love most about iorad, particularly for people who are a little bit more tech reticent and really need to see, and the ones who call you in and they’re like, “No, no! I need you right here, and I need to hold my hand while we go through this.” Live mode allows you not to have to be there and do that hand holding. The tool does that for you; anything Live works for you. It works like our old live events or now online as a tech coach or just even for a colleague who’s seeking out tech help.
𝘾𝙖𝙢𝙢𝙞𝙚: I have used it most often for secretaries, and some of the little things that they’ve been doing. As our district has kind of pushed into Google, our secretaries were very much Microsoft desktop people, and so when they’ve had to do things in Google, they panicked. Change for them is a pretty big thing, and so iorad’s been really really nice for them. iorad’s a tool in our tool kits, and as “edtech solvers,” I think we all have that role where we get the calls from people asking, “How do you do this and that?” So iorad’s another way of helping us solve problems for people.
𝘾𝙝𝙧𝙞𝙨: So definitely, especially with Live mode, iorad’s ability to click and do and remember what I’ve clicked on and what I’ve done, iorad solidifies it, and I think that that’s the value of Live mode, right? The ability to follow along and actually click the buttons and do it and type in the boxes and see what that end result is. It is that solidification in your mind of this is the process, this is how I do it, this is what the end result is, and not having to just watch somebody else do it. The Live mode is definitely a nice way for people to be able to say, “Oh, now I click on here, and now I’m going to click on here. Okay, so that’s that.” That’s really where I found the value.
So iorad’s another way of helping us solve problems for people. ~Cammie
𝘾𝙖𝙢𝙢𝙞𝙚: I met Chris and Jen when I joined Cobblestone, which was about two or three weeks into the pandemic. They’d both been there for a while, so I’m probably the newest Cobblestone. I had seen Jen around on social media, and I was aware of Shukes and Giff The Podcast, but I think I met Chris for the first time through Cobblestone doing presentations together. One of the very first ones I did was Jamboard when it was shiny and new; Chris was the Jamboard guy.
𝘾𝙝𝙧𝙞𝙨: And as Cammie said, am I coming [to iorad] through the work that we’ve done at Cobblestone, so doing events together like team meetings, things like that. It’s been a blast to get to know people and, definitely living in a country that’s as large as Canada, being able to work with people across the country and to feel like you know people, but you don’t actually know them. It is definitely something that’s really valuable. So Cobblestone started as EdtechTeam in the States by running in-person events, in-person summits. And then it kind of spun off to Canadian… there were enough Canadian events for EdtechTeam Canada to exist. So the lovely Emily [Emily Fitzpatrick] and Michelle [Michelle Armstrong] started running that.
𝙅𝙚𝙣: I also met Chris and Cammie both through Cobblestone and the former Edtech Team Canada.
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Cammie Kannekens is a 25-year veteran high school teacher and part-time college Edtech prof turned Instructional Coach in a rural school district in southern Alberta, Canada (small population, large geographical area of 11242 sq miles). She has a master’s degree in Educational Leadership and among other edtech certifications, is a Google Certified Trainer and Coach, ISTE Community Leader and a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert (MIEE). She works on providing learning experiences across great distances for both students and teachers by introducing them to digital tools that help them connect and build relationships, including using and creating Virtual Reality.
Christopher Webb is a High School Math Teacher in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Originally from the United Kingdom, Chris has experience both in the High School and Elementary School classroom as an ICT teacher,Media Literacy teacher and a Math Teacher. He is also a Google for Education Certified Trainer and Innovator and is involved with a number of Google PD Partners both in Canada and around the world.
Jen Giffen is a Teacher Librarian & EdTech Consultant. She has a M. Ed from the University of Toronto and a specialist in Education Technology. Google Innovator, Sketchnoter, host of #ShukesAndGiff the podcast, student voice ambassador, mom of three boys and dad joke aficionado. Former player of the game of school, she now seeks to ensure learning is authentic and relevant, especially for struggling students. She wants you to know that while at first, the hokey pokey is hard, eventually you turn yourself around. #Ginger #Canadian #HashtagLover. She can be found @VirtualGiff — everywhere.