Dr. Alec Couros- continues to inspire me


January 14, 2014

To Whom It May Concern:


As a former student participant in #Etmooc2013 I would love to nominate Dr. Alec Couros for the Teaching Award of Excellence for Flexible Learning. I joined #Etmooc in January 2013 as a relative rookie to the field of educational technology. As a high school counsellor from Calgary, I had no formal training related to educational technology but had wanted to learn how to connect with my students in a meaningful manner. I was very nervous to jump into a world I had never known, and wasn’t sure if I belonged. Thankfully I entered an environment where we were encouraged to ask questions. We could go back and review videos, Google Hangouts, Blackboard Collaborate sessions and Open Source course notes as often as we wanted and on our own time lines. This helped individuals like myself who were full time professionals and parents, explore their new environment on their own terms. Dr. Couros and the rest of this team had a very approachable demeanor which was always patient. The key phrase was “take what you need, when you need it”.



They say that a manager directs and a leader encourages those around them to stretch their wings and become all that they can be. By this definition I would definitely say that Dr. Alec Couros is a true leader. Dr. Couros encourages all of his students to take what they learn from the experiences he facilitates online and go out into their worlds and apply their skills. Since the end of #Etmooc I have continued to connect with my colleagues through a number of off-shoot projects which developed based on connections I made through #Etmooc. First I am a regular vlogger for the Fellowship of the Openspokes https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/116395158372553895482 . A community of vloggers from around the world who ask questions and offer support to each other around teaching and learning.
Second I was involved in the planning committee for another cmooc the Open Online Experience OOE13 https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/102207059956192791361 This project was inspired by #Etmooc with many of the participants being both former students and professionals recommend by Dr Corous.
Finally we, the students of #Etmooc, have maintained an active Post #Etmooc community https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/111431081834171225314 which has continued to connect through twitter chats, hash tags, Google + and Google Hangouts. We organize both twitter chats and Google Hangouts to continue to maintain and facilitate the personal connections that Dr. Couros modeled were so critical to educators during our #Etmooc experience.


My connections with Dr. Couros continue to impact my career. This year I have taken a position as an English teacher and coordinator of international relations in Tarui, Japan. The PLN (professional learning network) that I developed under Dr. Couros’ tutelage, continues to provide me with support and suggestions on the other side of the world. I am truly grateful that I was able to learn the skills to connect online before my move as I can not image how much more isolated I would feel without them.


Dr. Alec Couros is a leader, a visionary and a role model. I am truly honored to have participated in one of his courses and I feel that he has demonstrated exemplary skill in providing flexible learning.




Erin Luong

Summer is a great time for reflection

This week I had a lot of fun tinkering around online, thanks for the great ideas Open Spokes. I was  trying out new ideas while reflecting on what I want to teach my kids. 

I started out playing with the new haiku deck app… see the following link,

I was then able to import my haiku deck into a powerpoint.

From here I was able to import the power point into imovie.

I added some creative commons musics using the site http://www.jamendo.com/

And my final product turned out like this:

The Boston Marathon Impacts Us All- Resources to Help Counsellors Support Their Students.


The news of the Boston Marathon impacts students in many ways, often causing students to feel a sense of threat to their own personal security. In my office over the last week I have had students anxious about going out in public, the threat to North America, expressing upset over the lives lost and people hurt and etc…

I was very grateful to Dr. Anna B. Baranowsky, CEO, Traumatology Institute for providing me with the follow resources to reference when working with my students.

Coping with Disaster Resources      
Explosions  (section on After an Explosion) http://www.ready.gov/explosions
Coping with Disaster http://www.ready.gov/coping-with-disaster
Managing traumatic stress: Tips for recovering from disaster and other traumatic events http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/recovering-disasters.aspx
American Psychological Association 
Taking Care of Your Emotional Health After a Disaster http://www.redcross.org/images/MEDIA_CustomProductCatalog/m4240142_EmotionalHealth.pdf
American Red Cross
Recovering Emotionally http://www.redcross.org/find-help/disaster-recovery/recovering-emotionally
American Red Cross
Helping Children Cope with Disaster http://www.fema.gov/pdf/library/children.pdf
American Red Cross/US Federal Emergency Management Agency
Disaster Distress Helpline (24/7 phone and text) http://disasterdistress.samhsa.gov/about.aspx
Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration
Building Your Resilience http://www.apapracticecentral.org/outreach/building-resilience.aspx
American Psychological Association

Just as Dr. Barabowsky reached out through the virtual world to provide support. I hope that my blog may have a similar result.

God Bless

Empowering Our Students: Strength Based Approaches and Self Direction


A Strength-Based Approach is a positive psychology perspective that emphasizes the strengths,capabilities and resources of a youth. A Strength-Based paradigm requires educators to adjust our language and how we communicate with our students. Rather than focusing on “PROBLEMS students are encouraged to view challenges as opportunities to explore, take risks and discover solutions Our role should be to Guide not Direct students, so that they can develop their capacity to be self sufficent.

“It is important to understand the strength-based approach is not about denying that youth do experience problems and challenges and that these issues do need to be addressed. But, when the problem becomes the starting point with an emphasis on what a young person lacks, a dependency is created on the helping profession with lowered positive expectations and blocked opportunities for change “ (www.resiliencyinitiatives.ca).
Strength-Based and Deficit-Based Concepts: A Comparison (Hammond 2011)
Principles of Strength-based Approaches
1)RELATIONSHIPS are key- positive change can only occur in the context of authentic relationshiops

 2)Every student has potential- Think: “I believe and I WILL see” rather than “Prove it”

 3)Start with what students can already do. Small successes lead to building blocks for growth.

 4) Confidence to take risks grows when students are invited to start with what they already know.

 5) Believe that success is inevitable, students are intrinsically good and do want to learn

 6)  It is the STUDENT’S STORY (perception) which is most important, not the adults.

 7) Be mindful that the language we use demonstrates value –  reframe  – “Did you not hear what I told the other students?” to “It looks like you tried doing this exercise another way let’s see how it worked for you.”;

 8) “It takes a village to raise a child”- different adults can provide for different needs…. No one needs to be the sole expert.

9) Sustainable change is a cumulative process, not a destination.

Self –Directed Learning Forms A Natural Partnership with Strengths Based Approaches
Strength Based Approaches empower students to take risks and explore. One way to facilitate this type of learning to allow students opportunities to become Self- Directed Learners. When schools allow students to begin to create their own assignments they not only build content capacity, but also learning capacity


This approach may be applied in many ways including:

The Inside-Out School: A 21st Century Learning Model