In Memory of Gabriel D. Ofiesh – One of the Founders of NSPI (now ISPI)

Gabe Ofiesh was a legend at NSPI/ISPI.

He was the founding president of the National Society for Programmed Instruction (1962). NSPI later evolved becoming the National Society for Performance and Instruction – then the International Society for Performance Improvement…the current name.

He received many awards for contributions to instructional technology.

What is e-learning today but Programmed Instruction on the latest set of platforms???

I’ve been a member of NSPI/ISPI since 1979 and have been hearing stories about “Gabe” since that time. He was revered among those who knew him personally. I did not. But let me attempt to honor him by sharing this with you…

Published in The Washington Post on 8/4/2007:

On August 2, 2007, GABRIEL D. OFIESH of Arlington, VA. Husband of Bess Helen Ofiesh; father of David N., Gabriel D., II, Philip J. and Rebecca F. Ofiesh and the late Victor C. Ofiesh; brother of Albert Ofiesh, the very Reverand Gregory Ofiesh, Gladys Beter, Madeline Kayafas and Minerva Matthews. He is also survived by his grandchildren Andrew, Nicholas, Caetie, Dimitri, Kezia, Lucy, Griffin, Melanie and Gabriel, Jr.

Then again in The Washington Post on Sunday, August 12, 2007; Page C07

Gabriel D. Ofiesh; Promoted Technology in Education
Gabriel D. Ofiesh, 88, a retired Air Force colonel who was later a professor of educational technology at Catholic, American and Howard universities, died Aug. 2 of congestive heart failure at Virginia Hospital Center. He lived in Arlington.

Dr. Ofiesh made significant advances in the field of individualized instruction, with an emphasis on using computers and other forms of technology in education. He was the author of many publications on the subject, including a textbook, “Programmed Instruction: A Guide for Management.

Dr. Ofiesh was born in Beirut and came to the United States when he was 2. He grew up in New Kensington, Pa., and graduated from the University of Pittsburgh. He later received a master’s degree in psychology from Columbia University and did graduate work at Purdue University and the University of Michigan. He received a doctorate in education from the University of Denver in the late 1940s.

He entered the Army Air Forces in 1942 and was a navigator during World War II. Later, when he was in the Air Force, he served as a psychological warfare officer and intelligence officer.
He was a psychology professor at the U.S. Air Force Academy from its inception in 1955 until 1960. He retired from the Air Force with the rank of colonel in 1965 and received the Legion of Merit for his contributions to military educational and training programs.

Dr. Ofiesh settled in Alexandria in 1963 before moving to Arlington in 1969. He worked as a consultant for a variety of federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Defense Systems Management College, the U.S. Postal Service and National Park Service. In conjunction with the Department of Labor, he helped design the methodology for vocational training programs used in Saudi Arabia.

He also served as a consultant in educational technology to Price Waterhouse and other corporations.

In the 1970s, Dr. Ofiesh joined the faculty of Catholic University, where he was director of the Center for Educational Technology. He taught for several years at American University before becoming a member of the Howard University faculty, teaching educational technology. He retired in the late 1980s.

He was the founding president of the National Society for Programmed Instruction. He received many awards for contributions to instructional technology.

Since he retired, Dr. Ofiesh had been a member of several Arlington book clubs. For most of his life, he paid little attention to sports, but in his 80s he became a rabid fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
— Matt Schudel

Here is a few of the emails I received yesterday and today expressing condolences and memories of this giant of a man…

I have never met a man with such a push for the future as Gabe Ofiesh. When I first became involved with hypertext and early online technology in the 80’s, Gabe was on the phone with me almost weekly for periods of time, or so it seemed, asking me things, telling me the latest updates, turning me on to new people to contact, urging action to help make programmed learning and new technologies more mainstream, etc. I remember him as a sort of incredibly short, very round, always-enthusiastic, fireball who always seemed interested in pushing the envelope. What a great contributor!

– Carl Binder

I thought the world of this pioneer. In about 1974 I was seated with Gabe at the back (actually door entrance) to a local chapter meeting in Washington D.C.. Gabe was beside himself at the content of the speaker for the night. “That’s stuff we talked about 15 years ago. Let’s get up to date!”

Gabe was very much the man to stay ahead of his time and he insisted on others doing so as well. Along with Don Bullock of those days, he was as Margo suggests, a true mentor to many, many of us. Thanks Gabe.
Danny G. Langdon

Gabe was a friend and colleague I’ll never forget. I never tire to telling the story about the trunk of his car, which was filled with at least 15 or 20 briefcases — one for each project or course!I taught some of the first Information Mapping courses for him at Catholic.Wonderful man

– Bob Horn

I taught two courses for Gabe at Catholic University, summer of 1968. Good man. He was truly the Drum Major of the NSPI parade.
– Geary Rummler


Video on YouTube:



What Is ISPI?
Founded in 1962, the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI) is the leading international association dedicated to improving productivity and performance in the workplace. ISPI represents more than 10,000 international and chapter members throughout the United States, Canada, and 40 other countries. ISPI’s mission is to develop and recognize the proficiency of our members and advocate the use of Human Performance Technology. Assembling an Annual Conference & Expo and other educational events like the Institute, publishing books and periodicals, and supporting research are some of the ways ISPI works toward achieving this mission.

The Past is Prologue
With roots firmly planted in performance research and instructional design, the Society was founded in 1962 as the National Society for Programmed Instruction. Later, evolving with members who were concerned fundamentally with performance and its improvement, the Society changed its name to the National Society for Performance and Instruction. As the Society’s mission developed more globally and human performance technology became more widely regarded as a process of selection, analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation of programs to most cost-effectively influence human behavior and accomplishment, we became the International Society for Performance Improvement.

Gabe – I personally hope that the members of the Society have been meeting your expectations for this little group that you started! -gww

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