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Monday, December 03, 2012

David Jonassen Legacy

David Jonassen passed away Sunday Dec. 2 about 6:30 a.m. CT after a two-year journey with cancer. His wife of 18 years, his daughter, and a close friend were with him. 

For many of us, even though we were aware of his situation, this news comes as a reminder of the transitions in life. How important it is to leave behind the best legacy we can. We all have mentors, teachers, family, and friends. What we are remembered by when we depart this world, can say a lot about us.

I remember Dave, not as a living legend among the field of educational technology and learning sciences (which, yes, he was), but as someone who contributed his best and tried to convey that to others. It is not that long ago I made my first trek to an academic conference (AECT 2000) and was star-struck at my first experience of meeting the authors of the books and articles I was reading. Of course, Dave was among these. Though in my first meeting, I found him confident and a little overbearing (for those who knew him, you know what I mean), I learned over the years, he has reason to be, and he is also willing to reach out and go beyond.

Two such experiences stand out to me:

One, in the academic year 2007, I had the opportunity to create and organize what I called a Professor Presentation Exchange, where I contacted and lined up professors to speak via video-conference. I focused on those who star struck me and who I thought would be interested in contributing. Dave accepted my invitation and added to what turned out to be a wonderful experience. After a six month period, Dave was the concluding presenter (after David Merrill, Michael Spector, David Wiley, Charles Reigeluth, Andy Gibbons, Marcy Driscoll, and Jeroen van Merriƫnboer). I remember the technology not working for Dave's presentation and his impatience with not being able to move forward on his presentation. In the end, if worked out great and everyone benefited by his contribution. It is still archived online. If you check it out, click on the 19:48 timecode button to hear him when he starts, and look at the live chat and files he included. They now serve as part of his recorded legacy, I imagine.

Two, as the coordinator of the ECT/AECT Intern experience over the last four years, I have had the opportunity to arrange breakfasts for the interns where they select individuals they would like to share an hour with each morning. I'll never forget, three years ago, when I contacted Dave for this. He said, "Is there another time other than breakfast (not my favorite time of day)." He then got back to me and said breakfast would be fine and "I sure as hell hope there is coffee there:)" It was great to have him with the interns that morning with suit jacket, messy hair, alertness, and coffee in hand. I know those present greatly benefited by him reaching out and giving back.

Thanks, Dave, for the reminder to give our best, add value, and leave the best legacy we can.


John H. Curry said...

Thanks, Preston. Great post.

Rose Marra said...

Dave's wife checking in -- I really enjoyed this reflection. Especially loved the part about the coffee and the messy hair (God love him!).

amjp said...

I knew Dave for more than 30 years. I first met him when we were both at Greensboro, although we must have been at the Univ. of Delaware at the same time. I hadn't seen him for the past several years, but I still considered him a friend. (And he published a chapter of mine in one of his first books.) We had tried to get together somehow when I was in Kansas City, but we never managed it.
I just learned about his death. I am very, very sorry. I will miss him. My condolences to his family and friends.