CHINA: Chinese University of Hong Kong

The dramatic campus setting for the Chinese University of Hong Kong

Hong Kong: Students from the School of Journalism and Communication of the Chinese University of Hong Kong participated in ‘the world Unplugged‘ experiment, led by Professor Clement Y. K. So, Director, School of Journalism and Communication, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, and a senior fellow at the “New Directions in Global Media Education” session, a program hosted by the Salzburg Global Seminar during the 2010 Salzburg Academy on Media & Global Change in Salzburg, Austria.

Before conducting the Unplugged experiment, Director So discussed the parameters of the study with his students.  As he recalled:

“They were concerned about the precise definition of media.  For example, listening to music is a media activity.  But how about playing piano by oneself? Reading books is media activity. How about writing something? The boundary is not clear. I told them that we take a more conservative / stringent approach in theory, but allow flexibility in practice.”

Prof. So noted that the Unplugged study seemed to be extraordinarily difficult for his students, perhaps in part because the students were “concerned about the impact on their homework.”  That concern, as well as student fears that they could not “unplug” for 24 hours, led to a very high rate of student unwillingness to complete the assignment.

In the news: Radio-TV Hong Kong’s program ‘Hong Kong Connection’ aired a half-hour documentary on the students’ experience called ‘How Do We Get by without Media?’ (In Chinese: “沒有傳 媒的日子怎過?“). The show aired on December 27, 2010.

University background: The Chinese University of Hong Kong is a comprehensive research university with a student population of about 23,000.  The semi-rural campus is situated in Shatin, New Territories, and offers a view of Tolo Harbor. The students come from all socio-economic backgrounds. They have access to campus computers in classrooms, dormitories and other campus areas. They commonly use online resources for coursework and socializing.

Students’ experience: In November 2010, Director Clement So sent an email to all 670 students in the School of Journalism and Communication requesting their participation.  Nineteen students fully completed all parts of the assignment.  Most of the participating students went “unplugged” during the first two weeks of December.