By Jared Fields, Editor in Chief
Faculty and staff are taking the first steps to see whether ACU pursues becoming an iPhone university. At this early stage, the first steps are looking more like a golf shot.
“It’s just like that $1 million hole-in-one thing. I’ll pay my dollar and take a swing,” George Saltsman said. “The ball’s in the air, and that’s looking pretty good. I have no idea if it’s going to land in that hole or not, but it’s kind of exciting to see the ball going in that direction.”
Saltsman, director of Educational Technology in the Adams Center for Teaching Excellence, Bill Rankin, associate professor of English, along with others want to bring Apple’s new iPhone to campus.
Those leading the charge met with faculty and staff Thursday at lunch to discuss the proposal to Apple and future steps regarding the iPhone.
Saltsman, Rankin and Dr. Kyle Dickson, assistant professor of English, presented on podcasting in a similar luncheon that took place Wednesday. The lunch focused on podcasting and ACU’s use of iTunes University. Last year only a dozen or so faculty used iTunes U. Of them, most were in the distance learning program through ACU WorldWide.
This year, Saltsman said about 60 faculty members, or about one-fourth of the total faculty at ACU, will podcast for their classes.
Nearly 70 faculty and staff members interested in testing the iPhone attended Thursday’s luncheon in the Campus Center Living Room to hear about the iPhone’s possibilities. Faculty and staff must submit proposals to receive iPhones for a two-year commitment to be a part of a research team dedicated to finding the usefulness of this new product. Friday is the deadline for applicants to turn in the proposal. It is not known exactly how many will be selected for the research group.
The selected members will research how to use the iPhone in the future and its application in the classroom and on campus.
“Is it the next generation tool or is it just a toy that’s a really cool consumer device but has no use in the classroom?” Saltsman said.
The group, consisting of Saltsman, Rankin and others,
hopes this research discovers whether the iPhone and higher education can be a successful match.
As part of this research, ACU launched its own blog Thursday, iThinkEd.com, which is geared toward sharing ideas on how technologies like podcasting and the iPhone can better higher education.
At Thursday’s lunch, Rankin made the point that the iPhone is not a threat to old technologies, but it is also not a panacea.
The idea presented at the lunch was to give both sides of how the iPhone will be looked at 20 years from now. The iPhone as used in higher education could be revolutionary or not.
Rankin and others want the faculty to explore those sides.
Rankin quoted Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft, who in 1993 said he had no use for the Internet.
“Person after person after person in the heart of this stuff just couldn’t imagine what [the Internet] would be like in the educational institution,”
Rankin said. “Well, that’s where we are right now . we’re going to try to dream those dreams that transform education in the future.”
Rankin said the university must take more steps, be it three or 20 steps, before they can know how it culminates. Rankin uses the golf shot analogy to summarize how he sees the future unfolding.
“The trajectory so far has been right on the money,” Rankin said. “But there’s a lot that could happen between here and there, and the winds are gusting.”
Even if all this research leads to a dead-end, Rankin said it would be worth it.
Saltsman agrees, “We do think that goal is reachable, but we’ve got to take those steps to get there.”