Robin Mason Memorial Page

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Professor Robin Mason died peacefully on 15th June 2009 as a result of secondary complications from her recent illness.

Those of you who knew Robin well will know that in her career she made stellar contributions to the field of Educational Technology. Her standing in the field of education led to her membership of the RAE panel for our subject where she served our community with distinction. Robin served for many years as Chair of the Association for Learning Technology's Research Committee, and as a trustee of the association.

We will miss her enormously. We have lost a valued colleague and friend.

Some comments below are taken from the MA in Online Distance Education Alumni mailing list. Robin chaired and contributed to many MA ODE courses and was PG Programme Director at the time that she was taken ill.

People are welcome to add brief condolences, and the space below is currently organised in sections for OU, MA ODE and Alumni, Other colleagues from around the world, and ALT members. To add a condolence, contact and provide details of what you wish to be posted and we will add it to the list.

These and longer reminiscences of Robin are being collected by the OU and the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) to share with her family. Click here to view and add to these.

Funeral arrangements and donations

The funeral service for Robin took place at Bow Brickhill church (All Saints) on Tuesday June 23rd.

The family would like donations in lieu of flowers to the Brain Tumour Trust please.

OU colleagues

Will Woods (IET)

Robin inspired me when I first joined the OU almost 20 years ago, she was the first person I ever met from IET and probably the reason I've ended up here. I loved her enthusiam, she lead by example and I always remember her with that big smile she alway had. I miss her very much.

Chris Jones (IET)

I first met Robin when as a mature student I visited the OU to obtain a copy of her PhD thesis for my own literature review. Robin was always generous and helpful and when I came to work at the OU I had the pleasure of working with Robin in the Technology and Learning Research Group. I will miss her greatly and I am sure this is true for all those who met and worked with her.

Sharon Monie (LTS)

I was not fortunate enough to meet Robin, however I was very familiar with her work even before I joined the OU. The 'Models of Online Learning' (1998) and other works were highly referenced when I studied the Certificate of eLearning, Teaching and Training at the University of Greenwich. Her papers have always been close to hand and have supported my eLearning journey and career. Sincere condolences to her family at this very sad time.

Dominic Newbould (OUW)

The OU has lost one of its special people. Robin was a tremendous colleague, infinitely helpful and resourceful, committed yet always having time to talk and share a chuckle. She had a sort of cool, Canadian laid-back personality, but could also focus very intensely, especially in academic discussion. She had such a quality of thought and expression, and she made an instant impression on people from all over the world, from all cultures, so that they felt they had a friend at once. And they did.

Sarah O'Donoghue (HSC)

I had the absolute pleasure of working very closely with Robin for 4 years as one of my Course Chairs and then as the Programme Director of the MAODE in IET. Robin was so easy to work for, nothing was too much trouble, always grateful for anything you did for her and always provided sound advice and guidance. Robin was never fazed and she had a great sense of humour. As others, I knew she had been ill recently but was shocked and deeply saddened to hear of Robin's death. She is someone I will always remember fondly. What a lady!!

David Hawkridge (IET)

From the start, Robin was an outstanding colleague, making important contributions to IET's research and publications, particularly with regard to computer conferencing in education. She really came into her own when the MAODE came along. As director of the programme I was delighted when she volunteered to chair the H802 team. It rapidly became clear to me that she would take a different approach to the one we were adopting in making H801, for which I was the chair. That was a relief, because H801 was bogged down in traditional (lengthy) OU course production and presentation procedures. Robin's imaginative plans later became the template for other courses in the MAODE. Her quiet humour and sincere commitment brightened the 1990s in IET for me and many others.

Clive Lawless (IET)

I am deeply saddened to learn of Robin's death. My enduring memory of her is of her wonderful smile, so beautifully captured in the photograph at the head of these tributes, that always accompanied her greeting. Her first appointment in IET was as a Research Assistant and her enormous ability was soon recognised. Later, as Director of IET, when I sat down with her to develop her submission for promotion to a chair, I was amazed at the extent and depth of her work and the level of esteem in which she was held, not only by OU colleagues but also by eminent academics across the world. My abiding memory of Robin is, however, that of her wonderful warmth as a person.

Derek Rowntree (ex IET)

I have only just seen the obituary in Open House and, like so many others, am shocked to read of the death of Robin Mason -- far too young and with so much left to do. I first came to appreciate her when I was running IET's workshops on distance learning for academics in other universities in the early 90s and asked Robin and Tony Kaye to transplant into IET the pioneering Teaching and Learning Online course that they had recently been running at Birkbeck College. It was clear from the start that she was an outstanding teacher -- by which I mean not someone who is good at telling people things but rather someone who is good at opening up new vistas and helping people create their own individual responses to them. Teaching and Learning Online did that for many of us (tutors and students alike) by conjuring up an interactive milieu in which, at last, even students working apart can learn together, not just from tutors but also from students (as also can the tutors). OU distance learning would never be quite the same again. Thank you Robin; I do hope you knew how much you were loved and admired.

Marc Eisenstadt (ex KMi)

I am stunned and saddened to hear this tragic news. Robin was a great pioneer in so many of the areas of teaching, learning, education, and technology of interest to me and my colleagues, and was always a pleasure to work with. Moreover, she was a do-er, and conducted her work with great professionalism and warmth. I remember that at seminars and in one-to-one discussions she often dug deep to ask incisive questions about the real significance and impact of educational technologies that were being developed, and was always keen to see how best to run with a new concept and help make it happen. She has left a strong legacy, and will be sorely missed.

Liz Burton-Pye (ex IET)

I was privileged to work closely with Robin on MA ODE from 2000-2002 as ICT course manager in IET. Robin took everything in her stride and I felt that anything was possible if she was involved. She was a delight to work with- well respected, good fun, hard working and supportive. What an elegant, intelligent lady with a wonderful smile and sense of humour – memories of Robin that will remain with us all.

Grainne Conole (IET) Robin was one of the leading lights in our area - she was a prolific writer and has been extensively cited. I knew Robin for years and heard her give keynotes at conferences on many occasions. It was lovely coming to IET three years ago and to be able to work alongside Robin. In our old building her office was down the corridor from mine. Whenever she was in Robin always had her door open and I had many great chats and gossips with her, standing in her doorway. She had a wicked sense of humour; a great mixture of passion for her research interests and teaching with a pragmatic, down to earth approach. I, like so many others, will miss her very very much.

Patrick McAndrew (IET) Robin was one of the reasons I came to the OU - she represented a forward thinking no nonsense approach to helping people learn, spotting the potential in technologies before anyone else. Robin in a very real sense helped me find the right thing to do at the OU (she was on my interview panel, led the Centre I was in, was my mentor and co-researcher) but I know she influenced many more people through her example and willingness to get things done. From being there at the invention of "e-learning" to spotting the way "Open Educational Resources" can help all parts of the world learn in new way - Robin was a real innovator who will be missed in more ways than we know.

Megan Crawford (ex FELS) I worked with Robin when I was at the OU in the late 90s. She chaired a group that was looking at the OU's involvement in a educational leadership bid that involved technology. I appreciated her excellent chairing and humour. She was also always well turned out! Latterly, we met yearly as I live in Bow Brickhill and both of us went around the houses for the yearly carol concert. I am sure the OU will miss her.

MA ODE students, tutors and alumni

Brian Joyce (Nokia, Finland)

My heartfelt condolences to Robin's close friends and relatives. She was a true professional who had time to support and mentor those just starting in the profession of online tutor. I found her inspiring and some one to look up to. She supported me as a learner in the 90s and recruited me to the OU in 2001. I will always be grateful for the life changing chance she gave me.

Sarah Fullard

Oh gosh, what very sad news. I have been so influenced by such a lot of Robin's work and writing. It was her feedback on my H807 project which gave me confidence to change my career and move into eLearning development full-time. Please pass on my condolences, Annette.

John Cox

A great loss to her family and friends as well as our field of interest in general.

Had a few Email conversations with her, passionate, enthusiastic and helpful. My thoughts go to her family.


Helen Turner

Please pass on my very sincere condolences to Robin's family from a former MA ODE student.

She had a profound influence and I am quite upset to hear the news.

Berta-Isabel Cuadrado Álvarez (Madrid, Spain)

I am quite upset to hear the news.

Robin Mason's writings, conferences and ideas about Eportfolios and Assessment had a great influence on my MA ODE studies at the OU and later.

Please pass on my very sincere condolences to her family

Helen Chappel (currently in Australia)

It is shocking and sad to lose such a vital person as Robin in any situation. She will be much missed.

It is also very sad for the whole field of e-professionalism which she did so much to establish and set on a path that has lead to its exponential expansion.

In the MA ODE program Robin set high standards of spirited and innovative leadership with a cheerful courage to take risks for the sake of a large clear vision at the expense of petty obstacles many of which might have easily lead to a trivialisation of eLearning.

What a loss!.

Please send my condolences to her family.

David Wilson

As well as being an MA ODE student, I worked with Robin when I started at the OU in 1987, and on various occasions over the past 20+ years. She was an important part of what the OU has achieved in elearning technologies and will be missed. My last longish conversation with her was while queuing to collect our respective turkey/goose at the butchers before Christmas a year or so ago -- she was good company.

My condolences to her family.

Lynne Dixon

Sad news indeed. I never met Robin, but as so often happens online, felt that I knew her by virtue of our participation in the same community. "Robin Mason's rule of thirds" became something of a mantra for me on my journey as an online learner, then tutor & advocate of online learning. Her memory will certainly live on.

Please convey my sincere condolences to her family.

Peter Metcalfe

I was stunned to read of Robin’s death in today’s Guardian. Together with Diana Laurillard, she was my PhD joint supervisor at IET from 1994. Robin was unfailingly supportive, keeping me going from many miles away and at our termly meetings. She persuaded me to give our joint papers at conferences I would not otherwise have had the confidence to attend. I was very in awe of the academic milieu, being a late-comer to the scene, but her down-to-earth approach kept me on track. I have been an online OU tutor for several years and I have Robin and Diana to thank for that. I extend my sincerest sympathy to Robin’s family.

Nguyen from USA

I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing away of Prof. Robin Mason. Her passing away is great loss for the OU, for us as MAODE alumni and the academic world as a whole. She inspired many of us in the learning of educational technology. She also profound influences on our interests in elearning as a profession. To the family of Prof. Robin Mason, I share your deep grief losing dear Robin.

Bill McNeill

This is devastating news both for the whole distance learning community and for me personally. Robin was my tutor for H802 in 1998 and I learned so much from her during that year which has stayed with me since. I met her several times after completing the MA and she was always friendly, interested and passionate about her subject and students in that 'mid-atlantic' way that was characteristic of Robin. She will be sorely missed by us all.

Please pass on my condolences too to Robin's family.

John Pettit

I share Bill's feelings entirely. Robin was also my H802 tutor in 1998. H802 was a pioneering course, and Robin was a great person to lead a group into this new and exciting field. She was serious and committed about it but not at all earnest, and that blend really worked well and inspired me and I am sure many others. Robin encouraged me to apply for a post in IET and, when I first joined, we shared an office. She became my informal mentor, friendly and encouraging - and generous with ideas and projects. Much of what I learned from her over the years came from her own work in the field and her wide knowledge. But some of it came simply from her style and approach - that ability to pick out and focus on the most important aspect of an argument or discussion, and to deliver the crystallizing response in a way that was respectful to others while she deftly cut through the irrelevancies. Her timing in meetings was impeccable: she would wait and listen to various views, and then - sometimes with humour and always with courtesy - would deliver her suggestion in a way that was natural for the meeting to support. She managed to combine - in a way I've never encountered so definitely in anyone else - being both very private and a lot of fun. Perhaps because of her innate courtesy and social skill, she could get away with a certain (non-malevolent) irreverence about aspects of university life. For me this is a sad time but also a time of gratitude for her enormous contribution, particularly to the MAODE and the many alumni who benefited directly and indirectly from her work.

Sarah Cornelius

Robin has been an inspiration to me for many years - the opportunity to work with her was what prompted me to apply to become an MAODE tutor. It has been a priviledge to contribute to and study on some of the courses she has designed and written. She will be sadly missed.

Abed Salem

I am so sorry to hear about loss of Prof Robin Mason. I hope her family is coping witheverything. It is difficult to know what to say in these circumstances butwant you to know that we are all thinking about her family hope they will manage to find comfort among themselves.

Her extra ordinary work will live on.

Chris Corcoran (Birmingham)

I am so sorry to hear the sad news. Like many others she has greatly influenced my career, both teaching and research which has opened new areas of interest and opportunity for which I am profoundly grateful.

How sad for her family - please pass on my condolences.

Mieke de Waal H802 - 2000

I'm very sorry to hear the bad news about Robin.

When I was an insecure H802 student, she made me very happy with a good good mark for my TMA03 and with the constructive comments. I was very delighted: a good mark from Robin Mason herself!

I wish her family much strength with their loss.

Rosanna Marotta (Barcelona, Spain)

I'm also very sorry to know so sad news. I join the group in this common feeling and hope Robin's family may count on the great support from many people in this the Net.

Pass on our condolences.

Sian Morgan

My very warmest thoughts to all of you who were touched by Prof. Mason and her work and who, I am sure, are feeling this sad loss.

Iris Wunder, Germany

I wish her family much strength with their loss.

These are very sad news indeed. I only had e-mail contact with Robin but she influenced my learning and teaching very much and it was great to be one of her students!

Please pass on my sincere condolences to her family.

Barbara Roberts

I was deeply saddened to hear of Robin's passing. She was an inspiration, both through her valuable works and through the humanity that came through when she spoke to our community.

Please pass along my condolences to her family.

Chelo de Andrés Martínez

I only knew Robin through her writings and emails at the MAODE but she inspired me and influenced my learning greatly. I still remember her podcasts as it was one of the first contacts with distant learning I had!

Please pass on my sincere condolences to her family.

Arturo J Escandon

It's been a very sad news. Robin was a very talented practitioner and academic. Thanks to her and many other people like her, access to a higher education of real quality and excellence is not longer an issue. We will all miss her greatly.

Please extend my deepest condolence to her children and relatives.

Adelaide Leticia Saad Lukowiecki

Thanks to communicate me about Robin Mason.

She will always be remembered as our dear teacher in MAO&DE (1997 to 2000).

Please, somebody who is next to her relatives, send my condolences from Brazil.

Pagona Panagiotidi (Greece)

I also want to add my condolescence to the family & friends of Robin Mason. I only spoke to the professor once & have some short email exchange. However, the bad news both surprised & shocked me. Even at this difficult time I think I was also instructed. I was made to realise that virtual reality is sometimes so near & touching...

Arnold Mühren

Very sad news.

In my study are some books her name is on, many of her papers, the CD with the 2001 virtual degree ceremony at which she addressed my fellow graduates and me, a fine letter of reference she wrote on my behalf soon afterwards, her encouragement and support some years later when I was about to apply for an MAODE tutor job but still hesitated a little. They're just some tangible things that remind me of Robin Mason and her work with gratitude and admiration.

My sincere condolences to Robin's family.

Shane (Sevilla, Spain)

My sincere condolences to Robin's family.

Please pass on my condolences to Robin's family. I hope that knowing Robin had such a positive influence on so many people's lives will offer them some comfort at this very difficult time.

Ali Wyllie

I feel very sad to hear this devastating news about Robin. She was an inspiration to me on H802 and a valued colleague at the OU. Though she will be sorely missed, her legacy lives on through her work. My heartfelt thoughts go out to her family.

Mark Curcher, Dubai. UAE.

I am greatly shocked and saddened by this news. Robin helped me on H808 as an ECA deadline approached and then I had the pleasure of meeting Robin just this last January in Dubai at a conference. I was using her book “E-Learning and Social Networking Handbook” just this last weekend. Please pass my sincere condolences to her family and friends, all at OU who knew Robin and worked with her and especially those in the IET.

He who has gone, so we but cherish his memory, abides with us, more potent, nay, more present than the living man ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Juanita Foster-Jones

It is with much sadness that I heard of the death of Robin. It's thanks to the MAODE that I have my current teaching job in Aber, so I will always be grateful to her for this. I remember reading her works whilst studying, and bumping into her at OU events and conferences. My last memory of Robin is at ALTC2008 when we sat at dinner together and walked back to the lodgings - she was a very easy person to talk to. She will be greatly missed.

Sheena Banks, University of Sheffield

I feel a deep sense of loss and great sadness at this news, and realise what an important influence Robin has been over the years. She was External Examiner on our Masters in eLearning course at the University of Sheffield, and was so wise and supportive of students. Also her list of publications is astonishing - she seemed to have a huge workrate - she leaves an important legacy. She was an early pioneer in the field of e-learning, and I always felt that she was one step ahead of the rest of us.

Annette Odell

I was also one of those so fortunate to have Robin as a tutor on the first H802 delivery. I'm even more blessed by her friendship over the years since. In whatever role - tutor, mentor, colleague, friend - there has always been just one Robin. One Robin for all of us, I suspect. I think that's one of the things that I admired about her most, that total honesty and integrity. I will miss so much that wide smile like a 600 watt bulb, her kindness, wry comments, mind like a sythe - and ability to unfailingly name a plant at 10 yards. There is so much to miss and I so wish that we didn't have to.

Margaret Debenham

I first encountered Robin as an OU undergrad student on the very first presentation of DT200 in 1988 when she was 'CoCo' greeting and encouraging students as they hesitantly managed to communicate on-line. The course was an exciting and pioneering experience - and a formative one for me. After I graduated Robin later encouraged me to apply for my research studentship in IET in the mid 1990s. I am so sad to hear this news. I had no idea that she was ill and to hear of her death is a great shock. She work has been(and her legacy will continue to be)inspirational and I for one will never forget her.

Keiko Yukawa

I completed two OU -IET's courses, which was created by Professor Mason. (H806,H807)These were really great courses and I've learned a lot. Thank you so much, Professor. We certainly received what you taught us. We are thinking of you and praying for you in this time of loss.

Keiko Yukawa from Kyoto, Japan

Anne Bradbury H807 Tutor, MAODE

Robin was our Course Chair at the start of this course presentation in February: very sadly, she is no longer with us and the course has yet to complete.

I am sure that H807 students and colleagues in particular, value her work, research and contribution. Her work will live on in this and other courses.

Sincere condolences to the family.

Rhona Sharpe H806, H809 Tutor, MAODE

I have vivid memories of my first reading of Mindweave and listening to the modem handshake that would allow me to connect to the Teaching and Learning Online course from the back bedroom. In the early 1990's those computer mediated conversations with Robin and others gave me insights into other ways of thinking and being. Personally, Robin has been there at so many moments for me - tutor briefings, vivas, and interviews. It is with great sadness that we all come to accept that she won't be alongside us in the future.

George Roberts H802

H802 in 2000 was the first formalisation of "Learning Technology" for me, introduced me to ALT and to Robin. Mindweave was a seminal text. At my first ALT-C (run in conjunction with ISL in Edinburgh) Robin was a highly provocative (in the best sense) speaker. I remember her saying, even then, that we have had many small-scale studies of one teacher's introduction of a discussion board into one module and what we needed was to start thinking bigger about learning technology and its impact on not just higher education but the whole education spectrum including lifelong, adult, workplace and community education. Robin was ahead of her time. It feels like a generation has shifted. We owe her so much.

Pat Reynolds H803 1999

Robin was an extraordinary woman of so many talents who inspired all of us in so many ways. I don't think she never realised just how much difference she made to so many people's lives, such was her humility. As John Pettit so aptly put it, her style and approach demonstrated exceptional qualities - which combined with humour, timing, and complete gentility, put her in a class of her own.

I attended her innovative inaugural lecture which utilised live global chat rooms, and was way ahead of its time. Moreover, it has been a privilege and delight to have known Robin since completing the MA in 1999. I was the last cohort to do H803 - a wholly research component. The subject was 'Webcasting in Professional Training' which led to a joint presentation at WebNet 2000 in San Antonio in Texas. She has been a continual source of inspiration ever since.

Robin was a co-author in our recent series of 'e-Learning in Dentistry' run in the British Dental Journal and has been an active member of the International Advisory Boards for two large e-learning projects, PHANTOM - Personalised Haptics when Teaching with Online Media -(ESRC-TEL funded) and IVIDENT - International Virtual Dental School (IVIDENT - HEFCE and Department of Health funded). As a result of her contribution she was most recently awarded a visiting Chair to King's College London. She valiantly fought her final illness, and her courage is an example to us all.

We will all miss her, and the TEL world will be poorer for it, but our thoughts go to her family and those nearest and dearest to this exceptional lady with a wonderful smile.

Yannis Karaliotas (in Greece at the moment)

It is sad to hear such news for a person that meant so much to all of us MAODErs. I have never met Robin in person. I can only recall the vivid memory of her addressing us all at the virtual graduation ceremony... and a few of her written remarks on transcript from the final online chat session. Yet, I have known her all along these years, she is so dear to me through her brilliant work and initiatives in the field. I meet her again and again in her writings, every time I need advice, encouragement, a word of wisdom. My deepest sympathy to the family and her loved ones. I wish to let them all know that she is still with us.

Maria Cutajar (Malta)

As a former MAODE student I here pass my condolences to Robin Mason’s family.

Although I never came into contact with her personally, I read several of her works.

With Deepest Sympathy,

Deborah Capras

I also just wanted to say how sorry I am to hear about Robin. I never met her personally, but I admired her immensely. Please pass on my condolences to the family.

Yoke Sau Cheng Metz, Los Banos, Philippines

This is sad news indeed. I completely my MAODE last year and benefited greatly from Robin's work. Please pass my condolences to her family. Best regards,

John Eastwood (H802/H804/H806)

Sad news indeed. It allows me to muse momentarily of my journey through H802, where I first came into contact with her work.

It is always a quiet moment when a great mind has 'crost the bar'. My condolences to the family

Nguyen from USA

I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing away of Prof. Robin Mason. Her passing away is great loss for the OU, for us as MAODE alumni and the academic world as a whole. She inspired many of us in the learning of educational technology. She also profound influences on our interests in elearning as a profession. To the family of Prof. Robin Mason, I share your deep grief losing dear Robin.

Cheryl Belch, Manchester , UK (past MAODE student 2006-2008)

I only knew of Robin through her contributions to the MAODE courses and through her research, however I feel that she has played a vital role in my learning and has inspired me in much of my work for the MAODE and further in my professional role as a learning technologist. My deepest sympathy to Robin's family and friends.

Bonnie Luterbach from Canada

This is very sad news. Robin Mason contributed so much to our the global community. On a personal level, Robin touched my life in a very profound way. I first met Robin at a CREAD conference in BC and then completed my doctoral studies under her supervision. My sincere condolences to her family and many friends.

Perry Williams, Open University

Robin was the link who brought me to the Open University and IET in 2003 to do a PhD. As a supervisor, she was always full of ideas and encouragement. But most of all I remember her away from work, amongst her family in a gathering at her home just before Christmas a year and a half ago; I feel privileged to have known her. A great loss to us all.

Julia Trachsel, MA ODE Alumni

As with others, I only had contact with Robin online during my MA ODE courses. I always found her to be understanding and reasonable when approached with questions. I've read many of her articles and found them interesting and translatable into real life situations. The ability to do that is a gift. My husband recently died of Cancer, and was almost the same age, so I can honestly say I know what her family is going through. Their (and everyone's) memory of Robin will keep her alive and her work accessible. She was Canadian, as am I - something more to be proud of... May Robin rest in peace. (JuliaT)

International colleagues

Hemlata Chari- Deputy Director (Academic) Mumbai University

This is a shocking news and a great loss to the Distance Education Community, I had the opportunity to meet with Robin in a conference 2000, after joining Mumbai University I had several emails and tips from Robin. When she suggested her colleagues name to visit Mumbai University, Little did I know about her illness. she was a wonderful person I still cant believe this. My condolences are with her family and her friends.

Som Naidu (Executive Editor of “Distance Education”)

This is terrible and tragic news!

I have been stunned and terribly saddened by this tragic news. I have known Robin for close to 20 years and worked with her in a variety of contexts, but mostly in relation to our editorial roles on the journal “Distance Education”. Robin has served on the Editorial Board of this journal for years and with growing enthusiasm and unrelenting effort.

In her passing away, we have lost a very dear friend and an exceptional colleague. My condolences are with her friends and family.

Som Naidu

Anne Forster, Sydney, Australia (a past president of the Open and Distance Learning Association of Australia)

Robin's gift was her quiet tenacity and profound sense of professionalism, but it is her glorious smile, grace and wit that I will miss most. My friendship with Robin included our shared love of Canada, international aspects of DE and friends in common from the OU and the IET. Her visits to Australia were much appreciated, her presentations always drew a big crowd and her deliberations on our expert panels and reviews were influential. Robin was a mentor to so many, and a good woman. A wonderful woman, lost to us way too soon. Our condolences go to her family, friends, colleagues and students.

Stewart Marshall, The University of the West Indies

This is such a cruel blow.

I only met Robin in person relatively recently - through the EDULINK Project on using OER in course development. She went to great trouble to win that project for the benefit of universities such as ours in ACP developing countries. I wished she could have seen it through to completion in a few months to see us reap the benefits of her hard work.

But I knew Robin from her writing long before I met her. I will always remember her as an academic of substance and caring. She lives on in my PhD thesis, as she will in the minds and writings of so many others that she has touched throughout her life.

Our sincerest condolences and deepest expression of sorrow from myself and The University of the West Indies Open Campus to all the family and friends at this time of painful grieving.

Jan Herrington, Murdoch University, Australia

This is really sad news and the educational technology community will feel the loss very deeply. I first met her at Edmedia in Seattle when she was a keynote speaker. She was so highly regarded in Australia and around the world.

Sincere condolences to her loved ones at this difficult time.

Professor Thomas C Reeves, University of Georgia

I am very saddened by the news of Robin's death. It is hard to believe. We both keynoted at a conference in Krems, Austria last fall, and I had no idea she was ill.

Please pass on my condolences to her colleagues and family.

Lorraine Stefani, University of Auckland

Robin was a huge influence in HE especially round C&IT. She will be sadly missed that's for sure. I feel extremely privileged to have worked with Robin (and Chris Pegler) on our book, The Educational Potential of e-Portfolios. We completed that book without ever having met and I was inspired by the quiet but efficient way that Robin worked. No task seemed to be too daunting for her. I was even more delighted to meet Robin in person and share a lunch and a laugh. I have been so inspired by Robin's work, it is hard to believe she will not be with us now.

One thing for sure with Robin she was a quiet warrior and I'm sure she fought right up to the end to stay with us. My thoughts and condolences to Robin's family and friends.

Laura Czerniewicz, University of Cape Town

I sat next to Robin at the ALT-C dinner what feels like so recently and she was so warm and generous about our work. She and Shirley Alexander and I were talking about a joint project that I was thinking just the other day I must find time to pursue. It all feels so very present that this is hard to get my head around; such a shock. She will be missed as a lovely person and as a great intellect. Warm condolences to her family and friends.

Steven Verjans, Open University of The Netherlands, Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies

In 2007 I co-organised a conference on e-portfolios, where Robin was a keynote speaker. I was not able to meet her, but I know that she was highly regarded in the e-portfolio community, and in the broader TELearning community as a whole. Sincere condoleances from all colleagues at the Dutch Open University.

Carmel McNaught, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

I was pleased to spend time with Robin in January this year in Dubai at the e-Learning Forum run by the Hamdan Bin Mohammed e-University. She was already quite ill but her cheerful attitude and clear thoughts made the time with her a valuable one. My caring thoughts to family and friends.

Mohammad Santally (University of Mauritius)

I have known Robin as from May 08 in the context of a EU funded project and I never got a clue of her illness as she was always as concentrated and energetic on her work. We met in UK in May, in ¨Mauritius in Dec 08, then in January 09 in Dubai where we spent time together and we were looking forward to meet again in Stornoway next week...I was shocked to hear she passed away.....She will be greatly missed

Dai Lin (CCRTVU China)

I learned with deep regret of the death of Professor Robin Mason and I am writing at once to express our heartfelt sympathy.

There is not much one can say at a time such as this, but those of us at the CCRTVU who have worked with Professor Mason virtually on the three distance learning online training courses would like to convey our sadness and condolences. We recall her professionalism and many kindnesses as an international colleague. She will be missed by all open and distance learning educators who knew her.

Please pass on our condolences to her family and the University.


LI Yawan, Associate Professor, Director of International Cooperation & Exchange Division CCRTVU

I have received the sad news from Ms. Hou in Beijing. I was really shocked to hear that Prof. Robin Mason has passed away. Prof. Robin Mason has been our online tutor and chief editor of the courses for the joint project. She was such an amiable tutor and so professional in the field of online learning. She had never let us disappointed when there was an online tutorial and she always took seriously of every piece of assignment by the participants and tried her best to offer appreciate comments, which really enhanced our confidence. We like to talk with her through online forum and read her feedback through e-mail and we admire her diligent working style and great enthusiasm towards foreign students. We feel very sad to lose this respected tutor. However, we will never forget her commitment and contribution to the joint program. We will continue the unfinished work. May good memories with Prof. Robin Mason always keep in our mind! In addition, please allow me on behalf of all the students involved in the joint project and the working staff who once worked with Prof. Robin Mason to convey our sincere condolences to her family and friends.

David M. Kennedy, The University of Hong Kong

I, like everyone who knew Robin and her work, recognise the substantial contribution she has made to our field. My deepest condolences to her family.

Posted on behalf of Badrul Khan, USA

I have been very sad after I heard the news. My eyes are full of tears now …. as I am typing this email. We lost a good human.

Robin and I dined at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel in Dubai on February 4, 2009 while attending the E‑Learning Conference. Both of us served as advisors for the eTQM College in Dubai. In the dinner, I discussed with her about my interest to do a Special Issue on "ICT and E-Learning in the Middle East" for the Educational Technology magazine, and asked her to co-edit the special issue with me. I was very happy when she readily accepted my invitation. She reviewed several proposals for the special issue, then for sometimes, no response from her. I sent her several emails, but received no replies. Only just two weeks ago, Dr. Josie Taylor of the Open University informed me about Robin's long sick leave from work. I was shocked and concerned. I really wanted to work with her to advance open learning in developing countries. She was very supportive of my work in – dedicated to promote "Enabling Learning without Boundaries". By the way, Robin never knew how to say "No" – even in 1999, when I asked her to review "A Framework for E-Learning" that I developed, she was very kind. She reviewed the framework and provided feedback for improvement. I can't think of doing the Special Issue without Robin. To keep Robin in my memory, I decided to find someone from the Open University to co-edit the special issue with me. Dr. Josie Taylor of the Open University agreed to serve as one of my co-editors. We will dedicate the special issue ET Magazine to our beloved colleague and friend Dr. Robin Mason.

I will always miss Robin.

Mourning the loss of Robin,


Badrul H. Khan, Ph.D.

(note from Paul Lefrere, after posting this: I echo Badrul's sentiments. Robin was a dear friend and mentor, and a wise and kind person, a true world citizen. It was a privilege to know her. My deep condolences to her family.)

Paul Gormley, Chair, Irish Learning Technology Association

I would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to Robin's family, friends and colleagues from all at the Irish Learning Technology Association (ILTA). The learning technologies' community has lost a true pioneer and friend. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a h-anam.

Elizabeth Stacey, Deakin University, Australia

I am shocked and saddened to read of Robin’s death. I first met her in 1993 sharing research on audiographics and later online learning and have been inspired by her research and writing in the field. Over the years I have enjoyed her company at many conferences and had just emailed her to thank her for her astute and knowledgeable foreword to our newly published and launched book on blended learning. She will be greatly missed –my condolences to her family and friends.

Jim Devine, President, Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Dublin.

I was very saddened to hear of Robin's passing and offer my condolences to her family and colleagues. She has been an inspiration and point of reference for so many years.

Ian Mitchell, Past Joint Foundation Executvie Editor of 'Distance Education'

Dear all (the old familiar names...)

Thank you for keeping me in the loop on Robin. I have been waiting a while before I made any response, being increasingly aware that her death has come as a severe blow to many many people. She was a very distinctive person - my heart takes on a warm glow when I think of her and it was my very real privilege to meet her, even though now that meeting was so many years ago.

I had known her casually through conferences but came to know her so much better when at Birmingham (or was it Manchester, I forget) when I chaired a session in which she was one of three panelists. Her topic was an exhibition of the latest whizz-bang technology out of the UKOU. As it happened, the technology did not transmit from Milton Keynes to the conference site! She dealt with what could have been an 'Oh, my God!' disaster with such aplomb, charm and grace that it became a very beneficial learning experience for all; participants learnt far more about how to handle such 'disasters' than they might have learnt about the new technology whizz, as she analysed/brain-stormed with them on what could have gone wrong, why, and how to deal with it. I was intensely involved because, as chair/facilitator, it was my role to promote a 'good' session - but I said virtually nothing because she remained comfortably in control. I became a fan of hers, for life, in those moments. Later, she became involved with 'Distance Education'.

And in those days, her stories about 'boating on the Baltic' (my phrase) were always exciting to share. She brought so much to life and that vigour and enthusiasm spilt over into the lives of others. And that possibly explains something of our deep sense of loss now. All I can say at this distance in space and timing, is 'Thank you, Robin. Thank you for being Robin.'

ALT members

John Gundry, Knowledge Ability (ex-ALT member)

Shocked and saddened. Such a lovely person. I first met Robin in 1990 when she was doing her PhD on computer conferencing. A great time with Robin was the 1991 workshop that she and Tony Kaye organised on the sailing ship Najaden. In 2000 when times were tough for me she kindly invited me to work on the Open Cambridge programme and later to write some learning objects. I remember her as deeply insightful and a master of concision. It is so sad to think we will never again experience her warmth and kindness and her ability to light up a room.

Linda Creanor, Glasgow Caledonian University

I'm so sorry to hear this very sad news. Robin was a good friend to ALT over many years and was always the voice of calm and wisdom in committees, interview panels and consultations. She was respected by all, including myself, and was just such a lovely person. I too appreciated very much the opportunity to get to know her and work with her through ALT. We'll all miss her greatly. This is a truly sad loss for the ALT community and my heart goes out to her family and many friends. Linda

Wendy Hall, Terry Mayes, and John Taylor (ALT Ambassadors)

As ALT Ambassadors we would like to express our deep sadness and shock at the news of Robin Mason's death. In so doing we are sure that we speak for the whole ALT community. Robin was both admired and liked by everyone who was lucky enough to come to know the person behind the great contribution she made to our field. At this moment, although it is too soon to be making proposals for more permanently marking her contribution, we do express the hope already voiced by others, that ALT will act on behalf of its membership to express our collective feeling of loss. Robin will be greatly missed by us all.

John Cook, London Metropolitan University

This is deeply sad news. Robin was a valued colleague who worked with enthusiasm with us on the ALT Research committee. She had a quiet and incisive sense of humour, which I always appreciated. Robin will be sorely missed by myself and the wider learning technology community, of which she was a key figure. My condolences to Robin's family and friends.

Mike Keppell, President of ascilite

On behalf of the ascilite community I would like to send my condolences to family and friends of Robin. Robin's work was an inspiration for colleagues across the globe and she was a wonderful ambassador for the ALT community. As a member of the ALT research committee I had the pleasure of working with Robin over the last few years. Robin was a welcoming, warm and charismatic chair who I had the utmost respect for both personally and professionally. Mike.

Mohammad Hamarsheh, Al Quds Open University, Ramallah, Palestine

My condolences for all.

Diana Laurillard, Institute of Education

This was such sad news. I'm feeling very shocked, even though I knew Robin was very ill. When I last saw her and I asked how she was feeling she said 'happy to be alive' - cheerful, equal to the fight to rise above her illness, it seemed to me. She was working, thinking, productive, right up to a very short time before she died, apparently. Robin should have had more time. Such a death leaves a mix of sadness and anger at this waste. Robin was my first PhD student to complete, and I remember my first interview with her, when she was tentatively thinking about stepping into academe, and how after that first year or so of encouragement she then just took off. It's a terrible shock to have lost her. Our field is the poorer without her, but we do have her legacy. And I'm sure that collectively we will find a way to honour that. With sincere condolences to her family, friends and colleagues, Diana.

Peter Murray

Terribly sad news indeed. Robin was my PhD supervisor, and so I had a great deal of contact with her during that time, especially when I was working at the OU. I always held her in extremely high regard, she was a wonderful person and mentor.

Brian Whalley, Queens University Belfast

It was a shock to see the mails about Robin when I finally got to see them. I would much appreciate it if you could add my name to the condolences from ALT and especially the Research Committee. I did not know Robin other than through the committee but she is a great loss to the community.

Mark Stiles, University of Staffordshire

Truly shocking news - I'm deeply saddened - I worked with Robin a few times and had the greatest respect for her.

Fred Pickering, Chair of the ALT Further Education Committee

I would like to express my heartfelt condolences to Robin's family and friends. My only knowledge of Robin, until appointed as an ALT trustee, was through her writing which I had researched and referenced as part of my masters. I was therefore a little 'in awe' at my first Board meeting sitting next to someone who was so influential in the field of e-learning. I remember she made me feel very welcome. Robin was a kind, friendly and knowledgeable colleague with a dry sense of humour and I will miss her.

Julia Von Klonowski, Sun Microsystems

I would like to also pass on condolences on behalf of myself and other colleagues from Sun Microsystems who worked with Robin. I and other colleagues worked closely with Robin on various education projects and always found her fair, informed and pragmatic. This is very sad news - she will be sorely missed by us all.

Joyce Martin

This really is shocking and very sad news - I'd no idea Robin was ill. I didn't know Robin particularly well but she was a warm and friendly person who gave people time. She will be a huge loss to ALT, and to research and academia in general. Please add my condolences to all the others that you've received.

Martin Oliver, Institute of Education

Although I'd known Robin was ill, this came as a shock to me. It will be very strange not having her around - she's so much part of this field, it's difficult to imagine it without her. And I'll certainly miss her good humour, which she brought to all of our discussions about teaching and research. Condolences to all those left behind.

Simon Walker, University of Greenwich

I am so sorry to hear this sad news. Robin was a wonderful communicator who had a deep understanding of people and their needs. She will be sorely missed by the community. Simon.

Kevin Donovan

I'm on holiday but have just picked up Seb Schmoller's sad message in France. I'm really sorry to hear the news about Robin. I knew her work and influence but in fact I only met Robin once - at the ALT research conference - and immediately felt a rapport with a very sympathetic and gentle colleague. Please accept my condolences.

Mark van Harmelen

I got to know Robin while I worked at ALT, and always greatly enjoyed meeting with and speaking to her on the phone, when she came across not only as knowledgeable person and sensitive and skilled committee chair, but also as a warm human being. With my condolences to family and friends.

Anne-Lucie Norton, Kings College London

I was very saddened to hear of Robin's death: she was a great support to me in starting our online masters degree here at King's College London.

Cathy Ellis, Becta

This is a very sad day - Robin had such a great spirit and it was always good to be around her. She will be sorely missed.

Dick Moore, Ufi

Saddened. She was a light.

Stephen Brown, De Montfort University

Like others, I'm shocked and saddened by the news of Robin's death. Robin was a gentle but strong person, fearless in her promotion of Learning Technologies, indefatigable in her pusuit of knowledge and generous with her knowledge and support for colleagues. The fact that her illness was not widely known is testament to her quiet, cheerful and self deprecating manner. She is example for all of us. I shall miss her. ALT shall miss her. The world of education shall miss her. My sincere condolences to her family.

Liz Bennett, University of Huddersfield

I enjoyed working with Robin as a trustee of ALT. She was measured and incisive. She also had a dry humour that helps to make committee work pleasurable. I'm very sad to hear of her death.

Steve Ryan, Chair of ALT

Robin played a very influential role in the development of ALT, and, in particular, in the work of our research committee and as one of our trustees. Alongside this during Robin’s long and distinguished career in the Open University’s Institute of Educational Technology, she made a notable contribution to the development of learning technology as a discipline; and through her research, teaching, and support for early career researchers in the UK and internationally she has been a great and supportive influence for a large number of people in the ALT community and much more widely. We will miss her.

Mike Sharples, University of Nottingham

This is such sad news. She was a wise and knowledgeable Chair of the ALT Research Committee. I have a fond memory of her in her element on the Isle of Eigg, as part of a project to bring broadband learning to the island.

Haydn Blackey, University of Glamorgan

Robin was one of those people who enthused about her subject. Meeting her at ALT conferences, at the OU, and when she came to do some research interviews at our institution, was always a really pleasant experience. Her quiet calm persona underplayed her creativity and vision, which was always an inspiration to me.

Gilly Salmon, Leicester

A very wise woman for the cyber age, and one we'll not see the likes of again. She was my PhD supervisor and never failed to support me ever since through thick and thin. I'm glad we've got her spirit and her writing and her influence. Hope there's computer mediated conferencing in the after life. XXXX

Paul Bacsich, Matic Media and Sero

I had the privilege of working with Robin from time to time over many years while I was at the OU and afterwards, most recently in ALT, since she first took up a part-time job with my group in the mid 1980s. What I know of evaluation was largely taught to me by her - the pupil being not a patch on his teacher. Her evaluation reports on the early implementations of CMC stand the test of time. Some of her other early work is still informing current developments in quite specific ways in the international scene.

Martyn Sloman, CIPD Adviser 2001-2008

In 2002 Robin was one of the authors of a work “How do people learn?” for the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. We commissioned at the time when the arrival of e-learning demanded rigorous answers to hard questions. The report set the context for a whole stream of work and the standard for our written reports. She was a joy to work with and a pleasure to know.

Seb Schmoller

I'd known Robin from the early 1990s through her work with Tony Kaye, and in particular Mindweave and The Najaden Papers. I was very much influenced by these, and without them I doubt if I'd have been turned towards online distance learning, and learning technology generally. Working for ALT brought me into personal and direct contact with Robin in her roles as an ALT trustee and as founding Chair of our Research Committee. Robin was a one-off: scary and supportive in the right combination, devastatingly funny, and completely free of academic elitism.

Tony Toole

I was very sad to hear of this news. I'd worked with Robin from time to time and she made valuable contributions to a number our e-learning development projects here in Wales. She will be missed as an outstanding practitioner and as a unique person.

Rhonda Riachi, Director of ALT, 1993-2007

I promoted Robin's book with Tony Kaye, Mindweave, in 1989 while working in marketing for the publisher. I had no idea how influential that book would become, let alone that four years later I would be supporting people working in the same field and would eventually meet Robin. Robin was a gifted and warm person, and I never saw as much of her as I'd have liked. A wonderful example to academia and a good friend to ALT, we have so much to thank her for. As a Celtic blessing says: Keep you in peace till we meet again.

Sue Tickner, University of Auckland

Although I didn't know Robin well, I was sad to hear that someone so integral to our work had passed on. I realise that Robin's work has been consistently on my reading lists since 'Mindweave', when I started out myself in 1989. A guiding light indeed, and one that has been invaluable to me personally. Go well, and thank you.

Vanessa Pittard, on behalf of Becta

Becta pays tribute to Robin Mason, who was a leading light in technology-enhanced learning research. She was one of the few researchers who genuinely worked across sectors. She drew on examples from around the world and focused on a wide range of practical issues for teachers using technology today, including course design, e-portfolios and learning objects. She could always be relied on to convey these issues in a clear and accessible way. She Chaired the ALT research committee, on which Becta is represented, in a warm and humorous manner, brigading diverse views into focused and meaningful activity to benefit educators.

Anthony 'Skip' Basiel, Middlesex University

Robin was a positive influence on my thinking about eLearning pedagogy research. Her publications and personal feedback gave me encouragement to continue with my degree. I will miss her.

David McConnell, Glasgow Caledonian University

I've known Robin since her first days at the OU (where I used to work) and the news of her sudden death was very sad to hear. I've many memories of working with Robin - as external examiner on the courses that she ran in IET, at conferences here in the UK and abroad, and when she was external examiner on the Masters in E-Learning that I ran when I was at Sheffield University. I always enjoyed Robin's company, her intellect and sharp mind. Things are that little bit emptier knowing she is no longer around........

Nicholas Bowskill, University of Glasgow I met her a few times. You could not wish to meet a kinder, gentler and more supportive person. She was sensitive to the feelings, strengths and vulnerability of everyone involved in a course. A warm and wonderful woman.

Other Reminiscences and links to blog/press tributes

Reminiscences of Professor Robin Mason