Innovator for Teaching with Virtual Worlds Passes Away

Dec. 4, 2009

AUSTIN, Texas — University faculty member and instructional innovator Leslie Jarmon died on Nov. 24 after a 15-year battle with cancer. She was 57.

Jarmon was an early adopter of instructional uses of virtual worlds, becoming a role model and advocate for colleagues looking to create new models in pedagogy through innovative uses of emerging technology. Jarmon designed and taught graduate-level courses at the university beginning in 1998 with the Office of Graduate Studies. In fall 2008 she joined the Division of Instructional Innovation and Assessment as a specialist in faculty development.

A leader in the university's entry into virtual world environments, Jarmon was co-founder of the Educators Coop, a virtual residential community of interdisciplinary educators, researchers and librarians from around the world. She was editor of several journals and presented at numerous conferences on education and virtual worlds, including the American Educational Research Association, Best Practices in Education in SL, the American Sociological Association, the National Communication Association, and the New Media Consortium Symposium on Creativity in Second Life. She served on the UT System Initiative for Serious Gaming.

In June the UT System awarded Jarmon a $250,000 grant under its Transforming Undergraduate Education  (TUE) program for an initiative titled "Building Immersive Instructional Experiences and Learning Communities in Second Life." It promises a creative approach to undergraduate instruction using Second Life, the free, online virtual-world technology that converges Web 2.0 social networking capabilities with Web 3.0 three-dimensional environments.

She was designated principal investigator for the first-in-the-world project that includes 16 academic, medical and health science university campuses. Hosting almost 200,000 students and 7,500 faculty, the UT System has funded the creation of a virtual 49-island archipelago in Second Life (SL), with three islands per campus and one central island for System-wide collaboration and administrative activities. It is designed to foster extensive collaboration within and among the UT System's campuses by means of an open, online virtual platform that can be networked, customized, adapted and expanded.

Family, friends, colleagues and students gathered at Mercury Hall on Dec. 2 to celebrate the life of a dynamic innovator who taught in the Peace Corps, studied theatre with Uta Hagen and Herbert Berghof, and trail-blazed the use of social networking technologies to create communities of scholarship.

28 Comments to "Innovator for Teaching with Virtual Worlds Passes Away"

1.  Terry Beaubois said on Dec. 6, 2009

I wasn't aware of Leslie's battle with cancer and was shocked to learn of her passing. The world has lost such a positive force in the world of education. We all wish those closest to Leslie our best wishes. We will all carry on our and her work with dedication to her and will miss her greatly.
Terry Beaubois, director
Creative Research Lab
Montana State University

2.  Sergio Valle-Cervantes said on Dec. 7, 2009

I do not have words to show my feelings about Leslie. She was my writing and reading English teacher when I was studyng my Ph.D. in the Chemical Engineering Department. She was brilliant, human and many adjectives I can write to describe Leslie. I feel sorry for her family and for UT Austin because a great human being has been lost for that great community. I am from Mexico, and for many students from around the world she was a star when we were there.

3.  Charlotte Herzele said on Dec. 7, 2009

Leslie was a wonderful, warm and caring person. She inspired my students, and the community has lost an irreplaceable soul. Oh, sad. Leslie Jarmon will be missed.

4.  Rebeca Castellanos said on Dec. 8, 2009

I will be forever thankful to Dr. Jarmon for her teaching. She gave us hope as well as skills. Thank you, Dr. Jarmon.

5.  Ann Minner said on Dec. 8, 2009

Dr. Jarmon was an inspirational and patient mentor. I considered her a friend and will miss her. I'm sorry for those who did not have the privilege of meeting her.

6.  Emiko said on Dec. 8, 2009

This is shocking news. Dr. Jarmon was an awesome graduate writing teacher. Not only did she inspire me to keep improving as a writer, but she showed me how. She will be missed.

7.  Michele Boland said on Dec. 9, 2009

God bless Leslie.

8.  Stephanie Crouch said on Dec. 9, 2009

Leslie was all those things, but she was also an innovator in human kindness. She taught me more about being a caring, vital educator (virtual and real), than almost anyone else at UT. That is why so many people were willing to try these new technological resources--because she made us feel so alive while being in the virtual world. Thank you, Leslie, and peace.

9.  AC said on Dec. 9, 2009

Gone too soon. We will all miss you and that wonderful light of knowledge you shared.

10.  Elizabeth MacLean said on Dec. 9, 2009

I am so sorry to see this news. Leslie Jarmon was a warm and caring individual who took a personal interest in students. She was a real credit to this campus, and I am grateful for her teaching and her advice. She will be missed.

11.  Denise Gamble / Prairie Loon said on Dec. 9, 2009

Leslie had amazing vision and enthusiasm. She brightened the world with her life. I remember her interviewing me for the Educators' Coop in 2007. She stepped out of the box to accept my application and opened a whole new world of learning. I'm so grateful to have known her.

12.  Joey Walker said on Dec. 9, 2009

It was with great sadness that I learned of Leslie's death. Leslie was a one of the nicest, most postive and intelligent people I've had the privilege of knowing in my time at UT. She will be remembered and missed. My thoughts are with her family and loved ones at this difficult time.

13.  Renata Geurtz said on Dec. 9, 2009

Dr. Jarmon was a guest speaker in a course, and she was an eloquent teacher who inspired students (me) to think outside the box. I had planned on taking her writing course. She has been taken from us too soon. :(

14.  Iektje Van Bolhuis said on Dec. 9, 2009

Dear Leslie, wonderful "aunt-in-law," I already miss you so much! I will never forget you.


15.  Adam Peck said on Dec. 10, 2009

I am shocked and saddened at this loss. Dr. Jarmon made a tremendous impact on my development as a scholar. She will be tremendously missed.

16.  Jill Barnes said on Dec. 10, 2009

Dr. Jarmon was the most memorable teacher I had during my graduate education. She inspired so many with her words, her attitude and her smile. She will be greatly missed.

17.  Javier Pereira said on Dec. 13, 2009

Leslie, thanks for the passion and generosity you put in your classes. Your lessons are a great inspiration for the courses I am currently teaching in Uruguay. UT will miss you a lot!

18.  Emmanouil Kalaitzakis said on Dec. 13, 2009

Dr. Jarmon had a great impact on who I am as a scholar. Attending one of her seminars was the best thing that I ever did for my Ph.D. She will be greatly missed.

19.  Yolanda Padilla said on Dec. 16, 2009

Doctoral writing seminars at The University of Texas at Austin will never be the same without Leslie. She brought so much.

20.  Brad Herrick said on Dec. 16, 2009

I had the good fortune to have met and witnessed this incredible educator. I deeply regret not having the opportunity to meet her earlier, and I will miss her energy.

21.  Georgia Harper said on Dec. 17, 2009

All of us who experienced the light, love, compassion and vision that shined through Leslie Jarmon can share that same energy with everyone we meet, just as she did. That's what she taught me. Life is short. Love.

22.  Leonel Gomez said on Dec. 17, 2009

Like many foreign graduate students, I am indebted to Dr. Jarmon for her teachings about scholarly writing in English. After many years of taken her class, I still have my class notes and books at hand. The energy she put into a class that she had taught for so many times was not only a measure of her professionalism but also a display of her passion for teaching. She will be missed.

23.  Zhiyao Liang said on Dec. 17, 2009

I took the English writing course taught by Dr. Leslie Jarmon in 2000. She was awesome and impressive. She was actually very friendly. She wanted to help students' work in great details. God bless you, Leslie.

24.  Lianxiang Du said on Dec. 17, 2009

What a shock. I took communication and writing courses from her during my graduate education. I benefited a lot from her. All the skills learned from her are passing to my students here in Alabama. She will be missed.

25.  Robert M. Brashear, Ph.D. '69 said on Dec. 17, 2009

Unfortunately I was born "30 years too soon" to have known Dr. Jarmon. Oh, for so many more like her!


26.  Barbara A. Clark said on Dec. 18, 2009

My husband and I participated in her 2008 and 2009 classes at UT Quest, the Continuing Education forum for seniors in the Austin area. She was such a live wire, so bright and inspiring. We got a lot out of her demonstration of Second Life. I'll keep looking for her avatar! Rest in peace, Leslie.

27.  Cecil Smith said on Dec. 18, 2009

I have not seen Leslie in many years, but the first time I visited New York back in 1978, we stayed with her and then with her boyfriend at the time as she was a struggling young actress, and we went out with some her friends, including a young up and rising star, Bruce McGill, who had just finished shooting "Animal House." I saw her the following year in a production of "A Streetcar Named Desire" in which she stole my heart. That's the last time I ever saw her, although I have followed her career at the university from a distance. What an amazing and talented person she was and will be sorely missed.

28.  Yushu Fu said on Jan. 29, 2012

I was shocked at the text from google that Leslie Jarmon had passed away for years. She was the most remembered instuctor during my graduate studies. I couldnot believe it... We had continuted email contacts several times after my graduation. Then we lost contacts for years. Today, when I am ready to talk to her again, she is not there...
I love Leslie. She was such a passionate, warm, and wonderful educator! I will miss her forever.