It was with great sadness that we learned that Professor Börje Holmberg, Lund Sweden, died on 10 April 2021 (1924-2021) at the age of 97 shortly after he celebrated his 97th birthday and his partner's 90th. His closest is his life partner Karin Gustavsson, and his children and families.
Börje was a close friend and colleague of mine, and in recent years also almost a neighbor. When I myself in 2000 started in this area at Lund University, Secretariat for fast - further education and distance education (unfortunately closed in 2007), Börje Holmberg was a mentor with us and used to come to our unit when he was home from Germany. Over the years, we have had many deep and interesting conversations about distance education, at least during the pandemic year 2020, and "emergency remote distance education" that spread around the world, which diametrically distinguishes from well-planned qualitative distance education based on the empathic approach. Börje was always interested in hearing the latest news in the field and always wanted to be updated on my national and international assignments, commitments, publications, etc. He always wanted to hear the latest from the Svenska Riksorganisationen för Distansutbildning, European Distance Open and E-learning Network, International Council for Open and Distance Education, and European Association of Distance Teaching Universities etc.
A whole life dedicated to the empathic approach
Börje Holmberg was president of the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE), 1972-1975. He was named an honorary member in recognition of his outstanding contributions and received its 1999 award for excellence in distance education. He holds honorary doctorates from Open University, UK, Deakin University, Australia, and University de al Guadalajara, Mexico. He was an honorary member of ICDE; European Distance Open and E-learning Network and the Swedish National Organization for Distance Education. He was a member of the Royal Physiographic Society Lund, Knight of the Order of Vaasa in Sweden, and decorated with the White Rose in Finland. In 1976, Börje Holmberg became professor of distance education methodology and head of the institute for research on distance education at the FernUniversity in Hagen, Germany. During his time there, Holmberg published several books and contributed to scientific journals and journals. He is best known for his theory of personal communication between teachers and students in distance education. He regards distance learning as the conversational interaction between the student and the supervisor organization/host organization. The central concepts in his theory are motivation, empathy, coherent communication, autonomy, and interpersonal communication (Ossiannilsson, ICDE). Two of his main works are Theory and Practice of Distance Education and The Evolution, Principles, and Practices of Distance Education. In 2009, Holmberg wrote his biography about DISTANCE AND CLOSE.
Börje devoted his entire business to developing the empathic approach with the individual in focus. He developed internships and theories about meeting the student with empathy and personal interest, trusting communication, as well as processes that lead to genuine internalized learning. He saw distance education as a right to good education for all and a chance for all to reach knowledge and skills.
To Holmberg's way of describing how distance teachers should communicate with students to ensure real learning, he uses the analogy of the conversation to describe the didactic conversation and he derived seven postulates.