When a company is just getting started and in early growth mode, it may need a hand from someone that has been through it before, an expert advisor of sorts. This person knows what it takes to get things moving. An expert seasoned veteran who can mentor the team and help cultivate success for early stage businesses. It’s extremely difficult to find someone like that, who has the expertise, wisdom, patience and the willingness to help in whatever fashion is needed. We were so fortunate to find a Float team member that filled that role. Sadly, that independent expert, advisor, and collaborator, Gary Woodill has passed away.
When Float began in 2010, we knew we needed someone with both experience and vision in our corner. We wanted to focus on enterprise mobility and performance (Mobile Learning for short). After surveying the literature and state of the industry, we were led to a meeting and talking with Gary Woodill.
We invited him to come and speak at our inaugural Mobile Learning Symposium at Bradley University. He was to provide a keynote on Mobile Learning based on the info in his recently published book, The Mobile Learning Edge.
When Gary took the stage he talked about the origins of learning via mobility and discussed early mobile learning products from the forties and fifties. This all seemed like what we expected. This was interesting, but somewhat normal. Then he promptly took a left turn and started talking about the future of mobility and all the things it would unlock, like assistive technology for the disabled (!), medical instrumentation in smart underwear (?), and even things like smart contact lenses, intelligent agents in our vehicles, and many other fantastical things only a tapped-in futurist would know about. Perhaps just as importantly, he was funny while he educated the audience. He was smart, quirky and way ahead of just about everyone else we had met.
He seemed a perfect fit for us, and we asked him to join the team as an analyst and advisor. He would help grow Float and bring a fresh set of ideas to our audiences.
In the years that followed, our team travelled with him to conferences and conventions, workshops and training sessions and so many, many other industry events. It was always an adventure. He often would have a story or anecdote for any situation and become much more than any consultant would be – He became a friend.
Early on, Gary helped Float’s Managing Partner, Chad Udell edit his first book, Learning Everywhere. He wrote voluminous words for the second book, Mastering Mobile Learning. Gary helped craft curriculum for ATD workshops and eLearning Guild Pre-Conference workshops, and he did all of this with great aplomb. His confidence was justified. He had, after all, been doing this for a while. His inclusive, kind temperament was infectious, making anyone around him feel welcome and better for having him around.
As time went on and the discussions matured beyond mobility and into deeper learning technology topics, he and Chad collaborated on what would become the concepts behind Shock of The New. Creating frameworks and rubrics was Gary’s forte and this one was no different. The collaboration for the title was energizing for Gary and even as his illness was taking its toll, Gary plugged away with Chad to create the book for ATD press.
The book was released in April 2019. Gary was not able to tour for the books release, but he was still quite proud of it, remarking, “This is an important book and one that will hold up for quite some time.”
On September 20, 2019, Gary passed away after his long battle with cancer. The industry has lost an expert. We at Float have lost a dear, dear friend as well. The entire Float team extends their heartfelt condolences to his family.
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