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A Tribute to Larry Lipsitz and Memories of January 1986 including Ed Tech Magazine
Sunday, February 10, 2019

I have been meaning to post the tribute below for nearly two years now. Better late than never.

Tribute to Larry Lipsitz (lifelong educator, trailblazer in the field of educational technology, and founder of Educational Technology Magazine (a part-time venture in 1961, and a full-time business from 1969 to the last issue in March-April 2017). Larry passed away at the age of 79 on November 4, 2016.

A portion of the article below appears in the last issue of Educational Technology Magazine which was edited by my good friend and colleague, Dr. Tom Reeves at The University of Georgia.

     Bonk, C. J. (2017, March-April). Larry Lipsitz helped change my life. In D. Hlynka, & T. C. Reeves (Eds.). Tributes and remembrances for Larry Lipsitz. Educational Technology, 57(2), 7-8. Available: (entire tribute to Larry Lipsitz:

Original (slightly longer) Article:
Larry Lipsitz Helped Change My Life, by Curt Bonk, Contributing Editor of Educational Technology, and Professor, Indiana University, Instructional Systems Technology (IST) Department

My first memories of Educational Technology magazine take me back three decades to January 1986. What a month it was. On Friday January 3rd, I spent my final day as an accountant and CPA in Milwaukee while working in the high tech industry. I then packed my stuff that weekend and moved to frigid and snow-filled Madison, Wisconsin for graduate school which was -19 F at the time. In a night class the following week titled “Ed Psych 890: Theory: Computer-Based Instructional Systems” taught by UW Professor Richard Lehrer, I sat next to two people, Tom Reynolds and Okhwa Lee, who would become my best friends and top colleagues to this day. I also remember walking into the Teacher Education building a couple of weeks later on Tuesday January 28, 1986 and a TV mounted in the hallway, to which everyone around me was transfixed, was replaying the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle.

Suffice to say, that one of the most pivotal months in my life. Among the more consequential events was when I went to the School of Education library to work on an early assignment for EdP 890 and opened up the new January-February 1986 issue of Educational Technology. In it was an article by the famed Roger Johnson and David Johnson brothers from the University of Minnesota on “Computer-assisted cooperative learning.” I was hooked. Another article from a previous issue in 1983 on “What computer-assisted instruction can offer toward the encouragement of creative thinking” by Joan Gallini directly addressed one of the reasons I was in graduate school; i.e., to foster human thinking and teamwork with technology. Both articles later found their way into my master’s thesis. Articles in other issues of this magazine by folks like Robert Tennyson, David Jonassen, Priscilla Norton, Dean Spitzer, and countless others helped me to ramp up quickly and learn from the leaders in the field. In fact, in the fall of 1986, I wrote a letter to David Jonassen after reading his Educational Technology article on “Soft technologies: A paradigm shift for educational technology” and I received a personally written response from David a few weeks later in my mailbox at home. Email accounts would be assigned a year later.

Suffice to say, opening any issue of Educational Technology was like being a kid in a candy store. Little did I realize that I would later get to meet the editor of that magazine during a symposium at the AERA conference in April 2004 in San Diego (ironically, the editor of this article, Tom Reeves, was the featured symposium discussant). Even less expected was that Larry would actively solicit an article from me. How did he know my name? Why was he asking for an article from me? Larry sat in the front row of that research symposium in San Diego in an attempt to learn as much as he could about the research of the presenters. If it was any good, they would be sure to get his business card and request for an article. Clearly, Larry Lipsitz had a keen pulse on the field of educational technology.

In more recent years, Larry would call or email me from time to time to discuss trends in the field and up-and-coming people whom he might contact for an article or a book review. He would also confer with me about upcoming special issue themes and potential contributors. His interests in educational technology were not only wide, they were deep; with mental notes of previous authors, ideas, models, frameworks, concepts, theories, etc., spanning more than five decades. He was perhaps the leading historian and documentarian of our field. It is in the privilege getting to work with passionate, optimistic, and transformative people like Larry Lipsitz that I am most thankful that I left the field of accounting three decades ago. Larry pushed not only the field of education ahead in positive ways, but markedly impacted the human condition in general. Thanks so much Larry for helping change my life and the lives of so many more! You cannot be replaced. We all deeply miss you.

Curt Bonk
Indiana University
Bloomington, Indiana
November 30, 2016

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Name: Curt Bonk
Home: Bloomington, Indiana, United States
About Me: I am a former accountant and CPA and a former educational psychologist. I am now Professor of IST at Indiana University and also adjunct in the School of Informatics. I founded and later sold SurveyShare. As president of CourseShare, LLC, I run around the world training instructors to teach online and give motivational talks about emerging learning technologies. I also write and edit books related to e-learning and blended learning. See bio and vita.

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