This special issue honours John Self. John has always been at the creative and social centre of AIED. His contributions to the formation, evolution, and maintenance of the AIED discipline are legendary. He was secretary on the AIED Society management board from the Society's inception until last year and was also founding editor of the AIED Journal, serving as its editor-in-chief for over a decade. Through his efforts, the Society has become the leading advanced educational technology research society in the world and the Journal has become the flagship journal for the field, publishing high quality leading edge work, readily accessible through the web. In all of his administrative and editorial roles, John has demonstrated drive, integrity, depth, discipline, openness in decision making, care for individuals, and support for collegial interactions among AIED scientists.