CHICAGO (CBS) — A tragic fire in west suburban Addison claimed the life of a beloved teacher and pioneer last month, when she and her husband were found dead in their home. Since then, teachers from all over the world have left tributes for a woman who had been a world-renowned educator.

Janet Barnstable, 78, was known around the world as an educator, connecting hundreds of classrooms in 23 different countries.

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Janet Barnstable (Photo supplied to CBS)

She taught for nearly 50 years, and even during retirement her love for education continued. She pioneered the Global Virtual Classroom.

“The first people in world to start working on global online collaborative projects, and that is something that was not around in the early 1990s, and she was the first one to come up with that. She was the first one to come up with the idea,” said Matthew Kuntz, a teacher in Oak Park.

Last month, Barnstable and her husband died in a fire in their home in Addison.

“Complete shock to not only myself, but all her colleagues around the world,” Kuntz said.

After Barnstable’s death, Teachers came together naturally in chatrooms like she would have wanted. They chimed in from all over the world.

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“She would gather everybody together; and we would have chats late at night, or early in the morning, or anytime,” said Effie Kyrikakis, of Greece.

Ellen Smith, of Streamwood said she could ask Barnstable the same question many times in just a few days.

“She always had patience for my questions,” she said.

Gyongki Tothne Ban, of Hungary, called Barnstable “my inspiration and mentor in this life.”

Louise Morgan, of Fort Worth, Texas, called Barnstable “a true educator.”

“Till the day she died, she was always learning, always looking to help teachers improve their best practices,” she said.

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Addison fire officials said electrical engineers would be back at the Barnstable home on Friday to search for more clues on the cause of the fire that killed her and her husband. The fire does not appear to be suspicious. Their home did not have working smoke detectors.