Today my very good friend, colleague and co-founder of CORE, Dr Vince Ham died after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was at home with his wife and family.
Vince was one of New Zealand education's rare gems – both in terms his personal integrity as a researcher and educator, and in terms of his immense contribution to the educational knowledge base, nationally and internationally, around ICTs and learning.
Vince and I were introduced more than 20 years ago when I began work as a lecturer in educational technology at the Christchurch College of Education, and Vince was already there in a senior lecturer role. He must have wondered abut me when I arrived, full of raw enthusiasm and completely naive in terms of working in a tertiary context. But he never criticised or made fun of me – instead he did what I've seen him do with dozens of other educators in the intervening years, he simply got alongside and gently channelled my enthusiasm by asking questions, making suggestions and effectively modelling the behaviours of a reflective practitioner.
Over time Vince and I began working closely on a number of projects, collaborating to write papers and present at conferences and generally 'feed' off each others respective strengths. I did my apprenticeship as a researcher under his tutelage, benefitting enormously from the depth of his knowledge and skill across all dimensions of research endeavour – particularly action research.
The connection with Stephen Heppell in the late 1990s fuelled our vision for a NZ-based educational research and development organisation, and with Nick Billowes, led to the establishment of Ultralab South (now CORE). In this venture, Vince became known as the 'consience' of the organisation, the 'keeper of the values' on which the organisation was based. He continued to defend this passionately, including in the more recent years when he was appointed as one of the founding trustees on the CORE Charitable Trust.
Vince was indeed a man who 'walked the talk' when it came to living out his personal philosophy and beliefs as an educator. He will be missed by a great number of people. He will be missed by me because in him I had an 'anchor' for my thinking, someone I could pass my ideas before and expect an honest critique, and someone I could turn to when I felt out of my depth academically and intellectually to help make sense of things.
My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Ronnie and his family as they mourn his passing.
Me te aroha tino nui atu.