Thank You Alec Couros

Thank you Alec Couros for being my teacher and role model for the past 4 years.

I first met you as a mentor through the Powerful Learning Practice. It was exciting to find a Canadian who was actively modeling what being a Connected Educator could look like. You and Will Richardson were my role models as I moved from having a very private and locked-down digital footprint to one that was more open and public. You showed me it was possible to share personal information while still modeling safe digital citizenship. Last year I had the transformative experience of participating in ETMOOC. Before I started I didn’t know exactly what a MOOC was or what to expect from the course but I knew you were leading it so it would be a valuable learning experience.

Why Now?

I am writing this post in support of your nomination for the Teaching Award of Excellence for Flexible Learning from the University of Regina which recognizes teachers who have displayed excellence in leadership and innovation in non-traditional methods of teaching and learning.

I am also writing this post because I have been thinking a lot about my learning and growth over the past year and you are responsible for inspiring much of it; either through role modeling and instruction or because ETMOOC was structured in such a way that it enabled me to not only learn how I could thrive in a connectivist learning environment but how I could start actively developing my own connectivist learning experiences. As ETMOOC ended I knew I wanted to continue to interact and collaborate with some of the people I had met so I launched The Post Etmooc Google+ Community even though I had never participated in a Google+ Community, a Hangout or a Twitter Chat before I joined ETMOOC. My experiences in ETMOOC gave me enough confidence to start the community, and the understanding that even if I didn’t have all of the skills I needed I could recruit others to help me or teach me what I needed to know.

Finally I am writing this post because you will be our special guest in the Post Etmooc #etmchat Twitter Chat tonight and I know that 140 characters aren’t enough to say how much of an impact you have had on me and my teaching practice.

When I started to think about writing this post I reread some of the posts that I have written about learning and teaching. I thought I might be able to make a list of things I have learned or tried as result of having you in my Personal Learning Network. The list quickly became too long; almost all my posts which talk about teaching and learning are the result of something that I have learned from you or how you have influenced my learning. For example I write about my professional development, what I have learned and how it will change my practice. I use posts to share information, share my knowledge, curate and reflect on my learning.

Digital Citizenship

Your online interactions demonstrate how you can share your learning and even some personal information openly online while still being professional and demonstrating effective digital citizenship. I appreciate how consistently you model how to use and cite media that has a Creative Commons licence, and how to use Creative Commons licences for your own work. When I had my computer students research the digital footprints of educators, you were one of the educators they researched.

You have shown me that it is possible to connect your students with the world in a way that creates authentic learning experiences and interesting collaborations. By opening your University of Regina classes to the world and sharing the work of your students you support and encourage them and provide exemplars for educators the world over who want to open up their classrooms. The ETMOOC model, a loose connectivist structure created and supported by many mentors has already been used to start new communities of learners like The Open Online Experience and will be continue to be used as a starting point for new communities.

Finally you have shown me that it is possible to make personal connections with others you have never met. I regularly see you take the time to connect with your forty-nine thousand Twitter followers by answering questions, retweeting messages and replying to Tweets.

It is an honour to be asked to write a letter of support for you and to have you as a guest in the Post Etmooc Twitter Chat tonight. Thank you. I look forward to continuing to learn from you and with you in 2014.

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