Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Inimitable Jay Cross


I had the good fortune to meet Jay in 2011 when he, along with Clark Quinn came down for EDGEx – The Disruptive Education conference. That was the first time I met him face to face, and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Apart from the fact that I was totally in awe and had to muster the courage to go and speak with him, I think I was expecting a serious individual, the distinguished author of many books who had coined the term “e-learning” and led the thinking in the field of learning. An iconic figure in my mind… The individual I encountered was full of zest and spirit, fun-loving with a quirky sense of humor, and a warm, affectionate heart. I was bowled over. I think I behaved a bit like a star -truck teenager but that is understandable when you meet Jay Cross in person for the first time. 

My introduction to Jay had been through his book Informal Learning. Needless to say, it had become my bible to understand what social learning is and could be in the context of workplace learning. In those days, I was just a rookie instructional designer trying to write storyboards and grasp the basics of e-learning. I stumbled upon his book and him (virtually) on Twitter. I still remember the excitement I felt when I read Informal Learning and subsequently Working Smarter. Jay infused a new way of looking at how learning happens. For a learning-hungry person like me, it was like manna from heaven. I understood the concept of workscapes for the first time:   
A workscape is a platform where knowledge workers collaborate, solve problems, converse, share ideas, brainstorm, learn, relate to others, talk, explain, communicate, conceptualize, tell stories, help one another, teach, serve customers, keep up to date, meet one another, forge partnerships, build communities, and distribute information. ~ Jay Cross
There were so many Aha! moments as I journeyed through Jay’s books and thoughts. They are too innumerable to list down. I consider myself absolutely privileged to have been included as a part of the advisory board for his latest book – Real Learning! I don’t know what value I added, but I know I got a tremendous amount just by going through the draft of the book, interacting with Jay and other thought leaders in the group. I keep learning from him!

Jay’s excitement and enthusiasm was infectious. He had an almost indefatigable zest for learning, for enjoying life, and a childlike curiosity for exploring. As little as a fortnight ago, he was contemplating different platforms for hosting the Real Learning community. He never stopped thinking of new ways of looking at things, of learning and helping others learn better. We will go on learning from him and reaping the benefits of all that he has left us with – a veritable legacy in how we approach informal and self-directed learning!

Thank you Jay! Real learning will live on and continue to inspire…

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