Posted by: nickgerlich | January 22, 2008


Some have likened the professor-student relationship to that of Seller and Buyer, or perhaps Retailer and Customer. Others, though, do not like the commercial metaphor, and instead opt for one of Professional-Client or even Doctor-Patient. Take your pick, but I have been taking your pulse this week.

But please do not assume that anyone is sick around here.

PulseNo, it is just part of my regular duties around here to see exactly what makes my students tick…what they do, what they use, what they believe. If anything, I am the patient here, being treated to the collective wisdom of my academic crowd.

In any regard, in just a few days I have gathered your thoughts on e-commerce in general, as well as DVD downloads, the diffusion of technology, and texting. And you know what I have discovered? Regardless of our age, we approach this issue as if it were a technological smorgasbord. Kind of like going to Furr’s Cafeteria or a Chinese Buffet…we pick and choose the items we want, and shun the rest.

From the technologically littered landscape of your professor’s life, I hereby come clean with the following keyboard confessional:

  • I have multiple desktop computers and multiple laptops, but am still relying on a hard-wired network.
  • We have several cell phones in the family, but we seldom if ever text. OK, I did send one last night, a “sweet little nothing” to my wife while I was at the hockey game. You know, a quick picker-upper. And I understand the need sometimes to communicate without interrupting. But that’s it. I suppose we just prefer actually talking, or sending impersonal emails (and if you can spot the contradiction there, good for ya’).
  • We have several iPods in the family, and four different docking station/speaker combos…yet I have never downloaded a song. Nope, I am old school, and prefer to own the tangible CD first. Hey, at least it’s legal.
  • I have an AT&T wireless card, and routinely carry lists of FedEx Kinkos, Panera Bread, and Flying J locations with me when we travel. I can always find a wifi hotspot somewhere. Oh yeah…and I always travel with two laptops. You never know.
  • I do not have an iPhone or Blackberry yet, but not because I don’t know how to use one. No, I have simply imposed limits on my reachability. But I sense the end is drawing nigh. Some day soon I’ll be sitting in church replying to student emails and blog posts. Can I get an amen?
  • And speaking of church (it is Sunday, after all), ours recently installed giving kiosks. Yep, they are reverse ATMs, in which congregants can give back to God. Although I haven’t heard any complaining, they look a little dusty. I think I’m going to try it out this morning. But are my motives pure? This could be a blog in the making.
  • I’ve been working remotely (that’s not the same as remote viewing) since 1997. I also spent three years (1998-2001) doing contract work for an online training firm in San Francisco. Long ago I embraced the idea of asynchronous learning, a 24/7 classroom, etc. Yet today I still have colleagues who think we should not allow a professor to teach exclusively online. I fought long and hard to be online-only.
  • I’ve had a digital camera since late 1996, and presently own four (not counting the ones my wife and kids have). But I have only used the digital camera feature in my cell phone once…at the ZZ Top concert in Lubbock last August. If you flip open my phone you will be treated to a close-up of Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill singing about La Grange. A huh-huh-huh-huh. The view is good from the second row.
  • I have absolutely no desire to download a movie. Heck, I don’t even want to rent it. I want to own it. I’m a Baby Boomer, remember? I need to see it, touch it, feel it. Those shelves of CDs and DVDs stand like trophies of my media conquests.

I suppose I could go on, but I’ve got to get ready for church. Maybe there’s just too much technology available to us, so we have to pick the pork chop and forego the meatloaf, grab some green beans but skip the salad. Now where was that Visa card? I’d hate to keep God waiting. I wonder if He accepts text messages?

Dr “Pick and Choose” Gerlich


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