Laurie Taylor Column

March 9, 2007

No need for students to feel out of touch when Ken Robards is around, Bill Batty reports.

Dr Robards, a senior lecturer in small animal psychology at Poppleton University, is a man with a mission.

"I believe," said the don, known to his colleagues as "Mr Bloggy", "that the modern academic should use every means possible to enhance their student availability. Gone are the days when it was enough to turn up for timetabled lectures."

He's certainly a man of his word. All his lectures and passing thoughts are posted daily on his blog, and every one of his students receives a text telling them when they have been posted.

Dr Robards also freely hands out his mobile number and encourages students to ring or text him at any time with questions or comments. To ensure instant recognition of the caller, he keeps images of all his students on the mobile's Sim card.

Those students who want a more personal touch no longer have to hunt around to find Dr Robards. A small tracking device concealed beneath his academic gown allows students to locate his exact campus position on the sat-nav system in the Inquiries Office.

Don't run away with the idea that "Mr Bloggy" is all work and no play. His personal website now features several attractive pictures of his research subjects (field mice and water rats) and three short video clips of him going about his domestic duties. Choose from: Dr Robards Cooks a Chicken Curry; Dr Robards Mixes a Vodka Tonic; and Dr Robards Takes a Shower.

His latest development is the installation of a webcam directly above his bed. This allows students to watch uninterrupted footage of Dr Robards while he sleeps.

"Today's students don't work nine to five", says the good doctor, "so why should we deny them access 24/7?"

Dr Robards is 291/2 years old and can be readily recognised on campus by the telltale aerial protruding from his head.

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