Keynote: Beyond Selfies, Likes, and Pokes:
Embracing the Personal Learning Revolution
Critics of technology in schools and society speak of a narcissistic, disconnected, disengaged generation lacking social abilities and addicted to the latest fads and gadgets. While new technologies are often deterministic in nature, negatively influencing our behaviours andrelationships, great numbers of youth are accessing and creating powerful learning networksand becoming passionate, self-determined learners. Opportunities for informal and non-schoollearning are on the rise while we are seeing the idea of school as we know it become more irrelevant. So what do we need to know about our new knowledge landscape? What key ideas about learning and technology do we need to embrace? And, most importantly, how can transform schools into participatory cultures that truly embrace personal and social learning?
Dr. Alec Couros is a professor of educational technology & media at the Faculty of Education, University of Regina, Canada. He has been an educator for more than twenty years and before working at the University, gained significant experience as a teacher in the K-12 sector (middle years & high school), in the adult education/technical sector (computer information systems program administrator) and in youth corrections (as a teacher/therapist). Alec also has over a decade of experience working with Indigenous Education programs, and has recently completed a significant, Government-funded project connecting digital storytelling (through iPads) with First Nations and settler knowledge around Treaty Education.
Alec is probably best known for his pioneering work in Connected Learning. His 2006 PhD dissertation is widely read, and has been cited thousands of time. Most significantly, his Networked Teacher Diagram has been used in countless numbers of professional development workshops around the world, and the work that it inspired has helped to spur the development of theories related to Personal Learning Networks/Environments. As a result of his influence in the field, Alec has facilitated hundreds of keynotes and workshops around the world on topics such as social media in education, digital identity, digital citizenship, networked activism, critical media literacy, open education, blended/online learning, and digital ethics.
Alec has an excellent reputation as presenter. His recent closing Keynote at the D2L conference in Boston received a standing ovation from over 1200 educators. Many of the public comments from the event were collected and include statements such as, “Alec KILLED his closing keynote! Standing ovation. So good.”, “Best keynote EVER!“, “That was the best keynote I've heard since starting to attend conferences.” and “presentation was AMAZ-ING! Really motivating, touching, real.” In general, Alec’ presentations have acclaimed to be funny, entertaining, inspiring, and informational - what seems to be a winning combination for educators and administrators hoping to move their practice to the next level.
Alec is also noted to be one of the pioneers in what we now know as the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) movement. His innovative “Open-Boundary Grad Course” first developed in 2007 has become a model for dozens of connectivist-MOOC courses and professional learning events. His ability to develop and foster authentic, networked communities has been widely recognized. And most importantly, Alec is widely respected by his students. Recent class evaluations include comments such as, ““Taking a class with Alec is a must have for future teachers”, “There is no better prof than Alec”, and “Just being in class with Alec and watching his passion is what makes this course so great.”
Academic qualifications and experience aside, Alec is a husband and father of three young children. His work is deeply connected to the future of his children, especially in understanding the role of technology in learning, and in understanding what it means to be a digital citizen. In addition, there is a strong commitment to social justice that runs throughout his work.