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Congratulations to Gord McCalla on the CS-Can/Info-Can Lifetime Achievement Award

Prof. Gord McCalla has been awarded the prestigious CS-Can/Info-Can Lifetime Achievement award. The awards “recognize current or former faculty members in Canadian Computer Science Departments, Schools, Faculties who have made outstanding and sustained contributions to computing over their careers”. Prof. Gord McCalla CS-Can/Info-Can Lifetime Achievement page lists his invaluable contributions to AIED and UMAP, and to the Canadian Research Community.

Prof. Gord McCalla is one of the pioneers of AIED. He has been a mentor and truly inspiration for many researchers in the IAIED community.

Gord was on the Executive Committee of the AIED Society from its inception in 1991 to 2001, serving as President-Elect from 1995-1997, President from 1997-1999, and Past-President and Secretary from 1999-2001. Gord played a crucial role in setting up the Society in the early 1990s as a special interest group of AACE. During his time as a “senior executive” the major issue was leaving AACE to become an independent society and taking full charge of our conference and journal. Gord co-chaired the program committee of AIED 2005. He has been on the AIED program committees continuously over the years, as well as the member of the editorial board of IJAIED, guest co-editing special IJAIED issues on open learner modelling in 2007, part 2 of the IJAIED 25th anniversary special issue in 2016, and a Festschrift in honour of Jim Greer. Gord co-chaired two AIED workshops on simulated learners at AIED 2013 and AIED 2015 and co-chaired a workshop at AIED 2020 on lifelong learning.

Gord has made numerous contributions to AIED, starting with his work with Darwyn Peachey in the mid-1980s on “instructional planning” that was one of the founding papers establishing the area of pedagogical planning. The SCENT programming advisor (developed with Jim Greer and others) in late 1980s introduced the idea of “granularity-based diagnosis” that allowed robust diagnosis of student programming strategies at various grain sizes. In the ARIES lab, he did work in the programming domain in the early 1990s. In the mid-1990s through to the early 2000s he was involved with Jim Greer and Julita Vassileva in the PHelpS and then iHelp peer help systems that influenced several areas including distributed learner modelling, pedagogical agents, educational data mining, and open learner modelling. The iHelp project led to three major “issues-oriented” papers, the first of which explored the implications of the “fragmentation of culture, learning, teaching, and technology” on AIED. The second paper introduced “active learner modelling” in which the focus was on “model” as a verb not a noun, proposing just in time computation of learner modelling information. The third paper proposed the “ecological approach” architecture that envisaged an ever-changing distributed learning environment in which real time data is captured as learners interact with “learning objects” in the environment. Gord explored such things as paper recommender systems driven by learner models that captured social and content information (with Tiffany Tang), open learner modelling (with Carrie Demmans Epp ), the role of social capital in virtual learning communities (with Ben Daniel), open-ended and ill-formed domains (with Terry Peckham on reading comprehension and with Maya Sharipova and Adam McKenzie on support for learning about ethical decision making), lifelong learning (experiments with Bukola (Ishola) Idowu to find pedagogically informative patterns in the interactions in the StackOverflow community), and simulation looking in particular at how it can be used to test the implications of design decisions (with Edgar Lelei and Stephanie Frost).

The IAIED society is extremely proud of Prof. Gord McCalla’s award. We thank him for his enthusiasm, drive, passion, continuous support, and invaluable contribution to our Society.