One college in Pennsylvania has decided to skip most forms of online interaction for a week. According to an article by Kourtney Geers in the Patriot-News:

Harrisburg University of Science and Technology blocked access to Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Skype and other instant messaging services at 8 a.m. Monday for its campus network, banning social media use until 5 p.m. Friday.

Harrisburg University, a private, science and technology focused 700-student college in central Pennsylvania, decided to shut off all social media for a week in order to get students to think critically about the technology they’re using.

Harrisburg administrator Eric Darr explained the project:

I think a traditional academic university would’ve said in a class ‘Well, imagine if you didn’t have access to Facebook?’ To make it real and to make people think, this is a step we’re willing to go because we do care so much about technology.”

While this doesn’t really mean anything or explain the university’s goal for the project, it does oddly have the effect of stressing the true role of social networks on college campuses: people know students use them a lot, have some vague idea they might be important, and don’t really understand why.

Maybe Harrisburg will finally figure out what’s going on.

While the school apparently plans to conduct no serious research about the consequences of this particular project, according to an article by Steve Kolowich at Inside Higher Ed, Harrisburg students “will be asked to write essays reflecting on their time in social-media exile.” [Image via]

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Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer