reflections and ideas on open and distance learning - by irwin devries

Well, I did it…

Well, I did it. Pulled the pin, as they say. After more than seven years at Thompson Rivers University’s Open Learning Division I’ve put in my letter. I’ll be done sometime in January 2018, though I’ll be off campus by November. I hate to call it retirement because that seems to imply golfing (which I don’t do), watching TV and/or doing nothing at all (both of which I also don’t do). Seeing what “retirement” means to people like Tony Bates makes me nervous…I could never live up to that superhuman level of energy. So I use that term with some qualifications. I am turning 62 this year and feel like it’s time to try some new things, but no longer full-time. In my career I’ve worked in the once-reputable book publishing industry (Prentice Hall), for the original BC Open Learning Institute, UBC, the Justice Institute of BC, the Certified Management Accountants of BC (now CPA), and, finally, circled back to Open Learning, which had since been merged with TRU after several iterations in between. I’m not sure how I got here, given that in my early teens I wanted to build race cars and motorcycles. Life can be weird.

Some good things have already come my way, including teaching for Royal Roads University, which I’m really excited to start in a few weeks. I get to work online with a group of graduate students learning about the use of technology in higher education. I will continue some of the open education research I’m currently involved in, and of course I want to spend more time on music and recording, something I feel I’ve neglected for far too long.

I’ve been interim Associate Vice-President at TRU for close to two years now. I started on at TRU as Director of Instructional Design which then expanded to all of Curriculum Development. Over this time some key moments have been getting my blasted PhD finished, increasing my network of amazing colleagues around the world, participating in the OERu project, co-editing an open access journal, and working side-by-side with the one-and-only Brian Lamb, who continues to be a wonderful colleague, friend and inspiration. I’ve gained many new colleagues and friends at TRU and I’ve really appreciated working with the instructional design team in Open Learning including department Chairs Melissa Jakubec and Michelle Harrison. I’m hoping to maintain an affiliation with TRU to enable more project work and research.

My former job has just been posted. It’s a great job and we worked to expand the scope and combine it with program delivery, which means all online teaching in Open Learning. The position is titled “Director of Curriculum Development and Delivery,” and it’s a good one. Please check it out or pass the tip on to a qualified individual you know. I want to leave this thing in good hands and someone out there, maybe YOU, is just right for it!


  1. Mackiwg

    Irwin – congratulations on taking this step on your new journey. Your contribution to open through your career has been amazing and I know that you will continue to help shape this agenda albeit in a different and more relaxed capacity. Open is in your DNA.

  2. Vivian Forssman

    Congrats on the beginnings of a new life!! Irwin you have made significant contributions to TRU and your influence will remain.

    Heh, as for that idea of retirement, well, we’re in this together 😄

  3. Amanda Coolidge (@acoolidge)

    Irwin- sending you many congratulations on this!!

  4. David Porter

    Irwin, come on… You will continue to lead, innovate and support as a great colleague.

  5. mpaskevi

    Congratulations and best wishes Irwin. I’ve appreciated your support and leadership in ed tech and open education. Looking forward to seeing what you do next!

  6. Irwin DeVries

    Hey thanks all, you’re making me sniffle!

  7. godsvilla

    Irwin congrats on being an inspiration for so many years and opening the door to trying new things. Hope your life continues to be weird. 🙂

    • Irwin DeVries

      Weirdness…can’t seem to avoid it no matter what. Thanks Paul!

  8. grantpotter

    Best wishes for all the great things to come – looking forward to hearing the vibrations from more time with your music & recording.

    • Irwin DeVries

      Thanks Grant – and yes, vibes there will be!

  9. Frank Fucile

    Hi Irwin

    This is Frank Fucile – I found those rubrics from ecampus alberta – shoot me over your email and I will send them along

    • admin

      Done, thanks Frank.

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