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Josie Taylor retires

14 November 2013
IET gathered on the 28th October to mark the retirement of IET’s Director, Professor Josie Taylor, from The Open University. 
Professor Tim Blackman, Pro Vice Chancellor (Research, Scholarship & Quality), led the tributes to Josie as he celebrated her extensive achievements as Director of IET and noted that he was sad to loose Josie as a colleague. Professor Mary Thorpe and Regius Professor Eileen Scanlon reflected on their long personal and professional association with Josie during her IET career which began in 1990. And Vice-Chancellor Martin Bean presented her with flowers, gifts and a card from her many colleagues across the University.
[[[quote]]]As Mary Thorpe explained in her speech, Josie has “always brought just that right combination of serious work and serious fun to the job and that’s been a great part of her success – and one of many reasons why I and we will miss her so much.”
Josie’s career has successfully combined excellent contributions to both research and teaching. With qualifications in Psychology and Cognitive Science, her research has focussed on understanding the ways people learn from complex media, both traditional and digital, and how to design media to support learning. Mary noted in her speech that Josie “is skilled in creative problem solving, team working, commitment, meeting deadlines and energising projects and groups” and has employed these skills effectively throughout her career, to the benefit of technology enhanced learning and teaching.
Josie was head of PLUM (Programme on Learner Use of Media) and was instrumental in the founding of the Knowledge Network, the Userlab, Mobilearn and TEL projects. Before she became IET Director in 2009 Josie was Deputy Director Learning Teaching and Technologies in IET and applied across the University her close understanding of Human Computer Interaction to the growing need for research in the use of computers and the internet for teaching.
When Josie became IET Director the Institute was going through an intensive and challenging review. She successfully steered IET through this process, using the opportunity to bring about changes in working practices and attitude. This places IET firmly at the heart of the Open University’s strategy for pedagogy and research, as it fosters productive scholarly communities, networking and embedding good practice in learning and teaching into OU modules.
Tim Blackman reflected that Josie is “a great manager, always looking to get the best out of her staff and, indeed, from her PVC!” Her ability to focus on strategy, outcomes and commitment to the OU mission and values meant that she has “got the OU running through her like words in a stick of rock”. He paid tribute to her “thoughtful leadership and tenacity” which has helped drive so many of IET’s achievements and steer the University towards “further success” to show what is “the real miracle of our University, and that is … open means best”.   
During Josie’s retirement event, photos and twitter comments by colleagues were displayed on the video wall, which summed up her boundless energy, skills as a dancer, mimic and entertainer which came to the fore at IET celebrations.
Photos of Josie’s retirement event can be viewed at
Tweets from colleagues about Josie:
  • Josie – colourful, bright, cheerful, friendly, supportive, insightful – what else is needed? Love Anne xxx (Anne Howells)
  • Josie, brilliant working with you, first as Deputy Chair of RDC and more recently in support of IDO. Enjoy more time with the grandkids! (Alison Robinson)
  • “I thought pedagogy was a type of Dinosaur until my tutorial with Josie!” (David Matthewman)
  • "twinkly-eyed and super mischievous" (Yvonne Rogers)
  • I will miss your smile and your enthusiasm for all things educational (Hazel Rymer)
  • #secret smiles# professor irreverent - wonderful memories but none suitable for public consumption @lizmarr1 (Liz Marr)
  • How many ways is @josiet #alwaysmiling #bestIETDirectorEVER whatever @OUVC asks for :-)  
    More than #helpful #grounded #dynamic. How we'll miss you @josiet  
    @josiet enjoy your new grand challenges - #pushingthebuggy (Roger Moore)
  • Josie we’ll miss you…and your wit, warmth, intellect and passion.  I’ll miss your friendship and your wonderful dress sense – keep in touch (Sharon Ding)
  • ‘Josie is a diva debater of velvet tones, generous and kind to rookie Deans’ (Mary Kellett)
  • Josie was my first PhD student at Sussex: I was so proud when she got her Chair. She is my only student to have got me completely drunk. (Bent du Boulay)
  • "Having to abandon fantasies of a future with dames misbehaving 'in the back row', options on alternatives urgently needed. Crash course on distance version of ageing disgracefully?!" (Christina Lloyd)
  • Fond memories of Sussex: Dinner parties at Swanborough Manor. Singalongs to Bob Marley. A wonderful holiday on Mykonos. Deep discussions about Vygotsky & Leontiev. (Claire O’Malley)
  • Deep thinking, provoking questions, articulate address and most important great sense of humour! (Cecilia Garrido)
  • Supportive but challenging, and a great colleague to work with. (Astrid Wissenburg)
  • During my induction as Dean in 2012 Josie provided me with one of the most informative and comprehensive briefings. Her time and thought was much appreciated. (Kevin Hetherington)
  • Josie has a tranquil exterior and a passionate #heart – a remarkable style of leadership that recognises and values everyone @tonyosheapoon (Tony O’Shea-Poon)
  • @josiet Gonna miss U but know you've gone to a better place ;-) Where will we be in cttees without U to reality check us?! Love, sbskmi (Simon Buckingham-Shum)
  • Professional, passionate, particular, persistent, principled, prescient, pace-setter and perfect maker of chutney. (Tim Blackman)