I first got to know Jay Cross through his blog (it was before we even used the term) in the late 1990’s. I was one of the few people to comment on his posts and that was the beginning of our friendship. Several years later (2002) I got an email from Jay saying he would be in Moncton, New Brunswick, asking if that was near where I lived. Our first face to face face meeting was in a pub, 50 km from my house. Jay started the conversation saying that since we already knew each other so well, there was no need for small talk. “Let’s figure out how we can work together”, he said.
Our first venture together was the ‘Informal Learning Unworkshop’ series, where we used a different web conference platform each time, sometimes changing in mid-course when the technology broke. I learned to fly by the seat of my pants with Jay.
“Harold Jarche is a true pioneer. Nine years ago , long before online activities were commonplace, we conducted a series of Unworkshops on the topic of web-based learning. We relied on free software. Our students came from Australia, Lebanon, Canada, Austria, the Azores, and points in between. Lessons were both synchronous and offline. To give people exposure, we used a different platform each week. I can’t imagine anyone (aside from Harold) crazy (and innovative) enough to sign up for something like this.” —Jay Cross (1944-2015), founder Internet Time Alliance
Later we spoke together at an ASTD conference, where we received feedback from some participants that it was the best presentation ever. We were told by others that it was worst presentation ever. I learned to take immediate feedback with a grain of salt.
I worked on several consulting projects with Jay over the past decade: Canadian Textile HR Council, Cigna, AstraZeneca, Canadian International Development Agency, and the Oberkotter Foundation. Jay initiated the creation of the Internet Time Alliance, and brought together Jane Hart, Charles Jennings, Clark Quinn, and myself. He introduced me to his worldwide network, which sometimes required that I sleep on the floor of his hotel room, due to my limited travel budget. It was always an adventure with Jay, such as the time we were asked to leave the Pergamon Museum in Berlin for ‘illegally’ filming.
Jay was a deep thinker and a man of many talents, never resting on his past accomplishments. His 2006 book on informal learning changed the course of an industry. This year, he was working on his next book on ‘Real Learning’. Jay Cross died last week, and I will miss him greatly. He taught me to seize the day, and I will.