About the Connected Prof

Honest businessmanThe Connected Prof is actually Dr. Mark Phillips, PhD. Mark teaches business management at Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas, which was the first university in the US to distribute iPhones and iPod Touches to all incoming freshmen. Mark answers to a variety of titles, including Doctor Phillips, Dr. Phill, and Prof-Daddy. At this very moment, he is probably sitting quietly, either in his home or his office, smiling as he thinks up new weird things to replace the old weird things he’s already thought of. His wife, children, and pets have learned to tolerate this odd behavior.

Click (here) to read about Day 1 of the experiment, or scroll down to read why the Connected Prof was skeptical about this whole experiment…and still wonders how it will turn out.

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colored keyboard 736535_highTrue confession: from day one, I was skeptical of our university’s whole connected learning initiative. Now understand that I had no gripes whatsoever with trying to use technology in the classroom (I’ve done that with digital video for years). My concerns were more practical, along the lines of “What happens when you hand 1,000 18 year-olds a very shiny electronic device and expect them to take care of it?”

I was worried about how many phones would wind up swimming in toilets (several), run over by cars (probably a few), or….and this was my biggest concern….forgotten by week four of the semester. My biggest fear was that we would earn an A+ for the launch of the project, and an epic F for the follow-through. As a veteran of both industry and non-profit jobs, I have observed that the big launch is usually the easiest part of any major project.

The good news for me was that I could just go blithely on my way and ignore the whole endeavor. Why? Because I taught classes with course numbers like MGMT 439 and MGMT 436, both senior level courses. In other words, I wouldn’t have to mess with this whole iPhone thing until the freshman class of 2008 became seniors, some time around 2011. So I didn’t worry about it.

And then our department chair called me in and shared this number with me: MGMT 120. That’s right, I was going to be hosting a group of recent high school graduates, about 70 to be exact, as they began their journey through our program.

And every single one of them would have one of those stupid phones….

This is my account of a semester in the land of connected learning. I’ll share what worked and what bombed, and I would like to hear your ideas as well. Hopefully this recounting will help you if you are moving into connected learning, and perhaps you will avoid some of my mistakes.

In my mind, the jury is still out on this experiment; by December I hope to know what the evidence says, and I’ll level with you about what I find.

Feel free to contact me if I can assist you.




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