Clark Quinn's Learnings about Learning
(The Official Quinnovation blog)

7 November 2015

Vale Jay Cross

Clark @ 1:10 am

It’s too soon, so it’s hard to write this. My friend and colleague, Jay Cross, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. He’s had a big impact on the field of elearning, and his insight and enthusiasm were a great contribution.

Version 2I had the pleasure to meet him at a lunch arranged by a colleague to introduce learning tech colleagues in the SF East Bay area.  Several of us discovered we shared an interest in meta-learning, or learning to learn, and we decided to campaign together on it, forming the Meta-Learning Lab. While not a successful endeavor in impact, Jay and I discovered a shared enjoyment in good food and drink, travel, and learning. We hobnobbed in the usual places, and he got me invited to some exotic locales including Abu Dhabi, Berlin, and India.

Jay was great to travel with; he’d read up on wherever it was and would then be a veritable tour guide. It amazed me how he could remember all that information and point out things as we walked.  He had a phenomenal memory; he read more than anyone I know, and synthesized the information to create an impressive intellect.

After Princeton he’d gone on for an MBA at Harvard, and amongst his subsequent endeavors included creating the first MBA for the University of Phoenix.  He was great to listen to doing business, and served as a role model; I often tapped into my ‘inner Jay’ when dealing with clients.  He always found ways to add more value to whatever was being discussed.

He was influential. While others may have quibbled about whether he created the term ‘elearning’, he definitely had strong opinions about what should be happening, and was typically right.  His book Informal Learning had a major impact on the field.

He was also a raconteur, with great stories and a love of humor. He had little tolerance for stupidity, and could eviscerate silly arguments with a clear insight and incisive wit. As such, he could be a bit of a rogue.  He ruffled some feathers here and there, and some could be put off by his energy and enthusiasm, but his intentions were always in the right place.

Overall, he was a really good person. He happily shared with others his enthusiasm and energy.  He mentored many, including me, and was always working to make things better for individuals, organizations, the field, and society as a whole. He had a great heart to match his great intellect, and was happiest in the midst of exuberant exploration.

He will be missed. Rest in peace.

Some other recollections of Jay:

Harold Jarche

Jane Hart

Charles Jennings

Kevin Wheeler

Laura Overton

Inge de Waard

Alan Levine

Curt Bonk

David Kelly

Brent Schlenker

Dave Ferguson

George Siemens

Mark Oehlert

Gina Minks

John Sener

Sahana Chattopadhyay

Christy Tucker

Adam Salkeld

Learning Solutions from the eLearning Guild

CLO Magazine

A twitter collection (courtesy of Jane Hart)

Bio from his graduating class.



  1. Sad news. I had known Jay for many years – and our paths crossed at various events around Europe. He was both knowledgeable and always happy to share his insights. The corporate learning world is the poorer for his passing.

    Comment by Bob Little — 7 November 2015 @ 1:51 pm

  2. I can’t believe this.

    Comment by Craig Wiggins — 7 November 2015 @ 3:21 pm

  3. So sad, Clark. Thanks for sharing your memories. I remember meeting Jay in Anaheim at ASTD TechKnowlege. I always enjoyed the virtual and in person encounters.

    Comment by Don Bolen — 7 November 2015 @ 5:00 pm

  4. He was truly a lovely man. I will miss him, as well we all who knew him.

    Comment by Joe Ganci — 7 November 2015 @ 5:18 pm

  5. I was saddened to hear of his passing. Thank you for sharing your personal stories about Jay for those of us who weren’t fortunate enough to meet him in person and only knew him through his writing.

    Comment by Christy Tucker — 7 November 2015 @ 6:30 pm

  6. Thanks for writing this, Clark. I’m shocked to hear this and sorry for your loss. Jay was such a phenomenal person from a business standpoint, and as an industry leader and simply an all around great guy! He will be missed by so many.

    Comment by Sue Schnorr — 7 November 2015 @ 6:52 pm

  7. Jay Cross was listed as one of the Top 10 influential people in elearning. That was how I got to know his name. I appreciate your sharing of Jay’s life and passion – a life well lived. Thanks Dr Quinn. May the Lord bring comfort to his loved ones during this time of loss.

    Comment by Rachel Tan — 7 November 2015 @ 6:56 pm

  8. Thanks, Clark, for this personal sharing on Jay Cross. This is really sudden. It was less than 5 days ago when we mentioned him during our conversation at LEARNtech Asia. Have been following and learning much from his work. It is certainly sad news for the L & D field. We lost a great thought leader.

    Comment by Buay Choo — 7 November 2015 @ 9:06 pm

  9. This is a huge loss to the community! Thanks for all the inspiration, Jay… you will be missed… RIP.

    Comment by Ravi Pratap Singh — 7 November 2015 @ 9:51 pm

  10. Such a loss. Fare thee well, Jay.

    Comment by Chris Benz — 8 November 2015 @ 8:58 am

  11. Am sad to hear this news. Thank you for sharing your memories so that we could learn a bit more about a very special person who shaped learning for us all.

    Comment by Holly — 8 November 2015 @ 10:41 am

  12. This is sad news, but I appreciate your eulogy, Clark. Jay impressed me because he was such an individualist. He had strong opinions he represented and defended eloquently. He was a thought leader who advanced the industry greatly during a time of burgeoning opportunities, to think differently about how people learn. He donated his time to leading the eLearning Forum with enthusiasm and foresight and we board members often congealed because of his sense of humor. I remember the day Jay sarcastically stabbed at the notion that learning should be recorded and categorized in an LMS. I will remember Jay most for the rosy cheeks that shone through his dignified Irish beard. Jay was a good person. I will dedicate this day to his memory.

    Comment by Rick Huebsch — 8 November 2015 @ 10:44 am

  13. I met him through an incredible lady Rebecca Stromeyer and connected there and then. Will be greatly missed from all corners of the world. So sad….may his soul rest in eternal peace!!!
    Maggy from Namibia

    Comment by Maggy — 8 November 2015 @ 12:13 pm

  14. My god, what a terrific new! To have exchanged with him, he was a very human. I loved his energy. His works had inspired me and will have accompanied my first steps in Social learning.
    All my thoughts to his family

    Comment by Frederic Domon — 9 November 2015 @ 1:32 pm

  15. Really sad to hear the news…A couple of years ago I first met Jay at the Online Educa in Berlin and remember we drank a nice German beer at the hotelbar later that evening while sharing stories on life and L&D. So the picture here is definitely how I will remember him (as well as by his great views on L&D…)

    Comment by Peter Meerman — 10 November 2015 @ 3:24 am

  16. Very sad news – we’ll miss both his humor and always constructive cynicism.

    Comment by Kent Vickery — 10 November 2015 @ 10:32 am

  17. Clark, I just spent the last two days with Uta . ( I am Jay’s old colleague from Omega.) Your commentary shows me that you really knew the man, thoroughly. I spent decades with him professionally and personally, so i can testify that every sentence you wrote is totally accurate in my experience. He was whip smart and fun, and basically a good man.
    ( But he could ruffle feathers!) I would like to connect with you and perhaps we could plan a gathering /event to remember Jay… If you are up for it. Thanks for a great write up for our mutual friend. David Bennett

    Comment by David Bennett — 10 November 2015 @ 10:27 pm

  18. […] writes about Jay here, Jane Hart gathered Twitter tributes to Jay, and Clark Quinn linked in this blog post to many people who cared about Jay, and were changed by […]

    Pingback by The Man Who Wrote the Book on Informal Learning | Women’s Learning Studio — 11 November 2015 @ 8:32 pm

  19. Jay was a friend and mentor. He was planning on speaking with me at an online event just days before he left us. Thanks for remembering Jay. His unique voice will be missed. Here is my tribute: http://tinyurl.com/q3jnxrf

    Comment by Margie Meacham — 13 November 2015 @ 3:43 am

  20. […] Vale Jay Cross by Clark Quinn […]

    Pingback by Remembering Jay Cross and His Work | Experiencing E-Learning — 13 November 2015 @ 8:59 am

  21. Great loss. Jay was quite an inspiration and my copy of Informal Learning is worn from checking it. Rest in Peace.

    Comment by Diane Dean — 16 November 2015 @ 1:04 pm

  22. I am really a nobody in the list of influencers in informal learning and elearning. However, a number of years ago, I happened upon an article by Jay about informal learning. At that instant, I became a behind-the-scenes follower of Jay’s posts. I cannot even recall what I emailed to him one day long ago, but he answered me! Me! Me–in my small town non-profit learning world. I felt honored. And so I add my heartfelt sorrow to all the others. Rest in Peace, Jay. Your contributions live on!

    Comment by Elizabeth Jenkins — 17 November 2015 @ 8:00 am

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