I want to thank Alec Couros (and George, too) for making my job easier…and harder.

Alec Couros gave a presentation this evening for PDSB’s MFO Leadership Launch. I often tweet “in the moment” during a presentation and I sent a couple of tweets at the time. However, Alec was autotweeting his videos and websites and that somehow gave me permission to put down my phone and just listen. I laughed and I cried. I cheered little Audri and his success on the Rube Goldberg Monster Trap. I wanted to contribute to the conversation, but could not find the words to sum up my learning. So I tweeted this:

Most of what Alec presented was not new to me personally since I have been in webinars with him in ETMOOC, I follow him on Twitter, Flickr and… (Let’s face it, I’m a groupie) but I still learned from it. What struck me in this presentation (and in George’s presentation during our Teaching and Learning in a Digital World Conference this past August) was the connection he had with the audience. I think it was not just his superior presentation skills. It was also that fact that I was not the only groupie in the audience. Since Alec is such an open lead learner, he shares his triumphs and failures, and he responds and supports others online, he feels like a friend or close colleague.

That’s why he (and George) have made my job easier. Alec and George are our peers who live online and “in real life’ like our students do—without drawing boundaries between them. After teachers listen to their talks they really get it. By “it,” I mean they see how thoughtfully using social media and technology in the classroom can create positive, powerful—memorable—learning experiences for our students. It can help students build relationships with people of all ages all around the world. The presentation helps develop a teacher’s moral imperative to model and guide students to create positive digital footprints and participate in social activism. It is easy to work with a teacher that gets it.

On the other side, this makes my job harder. It’s not only because my inbox is fuller and my time is at a premium. It’s because it is still quite new to all of us. I am looking forward to getting back into the classroom eventually and developing personal experience with connected learning. Until then, the teachers, administration and I (along with the rest of the team of ITRTs) work together to see what works and what doesn’t. Of course, being connected means help is just a tweet away!

Alec and I met face to face for the first time today. I feel I know Alec because of our online interactions and his open sharing. I doubt he feels the same about me though. I share online, but not very much personal information or reflections. My blog posts are mostly about technology, not relationships.


When I saw Alec continuing to struggle with the grief of his father’s passing, I did not respond. I felt shy and that he would not value support from someone he barely knew. But it brought me back to my Mom’s passing last May and the struggle I have every time I see her pictures in my photo stream.

Do I delete them so I don’t have to face the pain at random times when I’m searching for a photo? But no, I have them saved elsewhere and eventually, those pictures will be pushed through the stream that will only hold 1000 pictures. When that happens, I will have to purposefully go look for her picture like Alec does with his dad’s Facebook page. Until now, I have not shared that with Alec or anyone. In my need to present only my professional persona, I think I cheated both of us that shared grief and healing. I can see that now.

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