Teaching and Learning in a Net-Centric World

Passing of Gary Boyd – a great scholar and friend

I was saddened today to learn of the passing of my friend Gary Boyd, Professor at Concordia University in  Montreal. Gary exemplified scholarship in education technology and came to personalize what I think are the necessary, but far too uncommon characteristics of  scholarship and application of new technologies and pedagogy to teaching and learning.

I first met Gary in 1988, when Robert Sweet and I went on a research trip to Concordia. I still remember two things about that first meeting- first the vivid introduction to scholarly mess – Gerry had mountains of texts, papers, floppy disks and conference proceedings spilling out and over his desk and the floor. Second, I also remember his big smile and very warm greeting to Robert (a past Concordia colleague) and to myself, At that time, I was about  million psychological miles from an academic vocation and life style. I was impressed by both aspects of Gary’s life.

Later, I would meet Gary at conferences and was always impressed by the social consciousness that he brought to all of his presentations. Gary was a techie, but he was most interested in the effect, impact and benefit these technologies can bring to real people and real problems.  I was and am impressed by Gary’s intellectual skills.  In 2007, I received a copy of Lars Qvortrup (2006). Knowledge Education and Learning, to review for IRRODL and frankly I was out my depth. The book is a deep, philosophical tome, in European style, and such texts too often go right over the head of a practical,  ex-cowboy like me. But…. I knew that this was a task for Gary,  and he came through with an excellent review.  Gary was also one of the few people I know, and the only person who took the time to help me understand cybernetician Gordon Pask’s conversation theory. My own PhD work focused on distance interaction or conversations in formal education and I was at first attracted and then totally confused by “conversation theory”.  But an afternoon with Gary cleared that up – well -at least I understood what I don’t understand.

Gary was a mentor, supervisor and examiner of hundreds of graduate students at Concordia and elsewhere.  I’m sure there are many of us who have learned from his learned critique, suggestions and support. I’m glad a bit of Gary lives on at his homepage including links to many of the presentations and publications. But I am sorry, that I won’t be able to enjoy his warm smile and his welcoming invitation into his scholar’s den at Concordia.

I’ll leave you with a couple of images of Gary – the first before I knew him, and the second how I will long remember  him.

younger gary boyd garyboyd

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