A week without social media?

That’s just what he Provost of Harrisburg University of Science and Technology is doing this week. For the duration of this week, Facebook, Twitter, and other popular social media services will be blocked on campus. What do you think? Is this a silly idea, or a constructor technology fast?

The Chronicle of Higher Education

September 9, 2010

A Social-Media Blackout at Harrisburg U.

By Paige Chapman

Professors have experimented with assigning technology fasts for their students—by discouraging gadget use for five days, for example, or rewarding extra credit for a semester without Facebook.

Harrisburg University of Science and Technology is going one step further with a “social-media blackout.” Starting Monday, the Pennsylvania institution will block Facebook, Twitter, AOL Instant Messenger, and MySpace on the campus network for a week. Faculty and staff members will be affected as well as students.

“Telling students to imagine a time before Facebook is like telling them to imagine living in a world with dinosaurs,” said Eric D. Darr, Harrisburg’s executive vice president and provost. “It’s not real. What we’re doing is trying to make it real.”

By blocking Web sites—instead of just discouraging use—the university will give its entire community a shared experience, Mr. Darr said. He insisted the restricted access wasn’t censorship.

“We’re not denying students, staff, and faculty the right to connect to Facebook since the university network is only one avenue to get to these sites,” he said. “They can drive down the road to a place with wireless if they really want.”

David Parry, an assistant professor of emerging media and communications at the University of Texas at Dallas, has run several social-media fasts in his classes, where his students study such media. Because social media has become so common in the lives of students, he said, it can be harder for them to see how to advance the technology beyond its conventional uses. Asking students to choose to refrain for a short period of time can help them discover more productive uses for the media, he has found.

Full article available at http://bit.ly/cYHdPd.

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