Hempstead, New York: Students from the School of Communication at Hofstra University participated in ‘the world Unplugged‘ experiment, led by Dr. Paul Mihailidis, an assistant professor of Journalism, Media Studies, and Public Relations and the director of the Salzburg Academy on Media & Global Change in Salzburg, Austria.
Before conducting the Unplugged experiment, Prof. Mihailidis discussed the parameters of the study with the students. Many students felt the assignment was impossible, while others questioned what constitutes media. Some specific questions included whether playing music, painting or reading are forms of media. In a subsequent conversation with the students after they completed the 24-hour experiment, Prof. Mihailidis noted that, “They mostly found the experience manageable, aside from their cell phones. That was the biggest deterrent.” Students also questioned whether cell phone use strictly for communication purposes constituted as media. Overall, students found the assignment difficult, with most having lapses. At the conclusion of the experiment, students realized how prevalent media was in their lives.
University background: Hofstra University has a population of about 12,000 students. It is a suburban university located in Hempstead, NY, just outside of New York City. Forty percent of students at Hofstra University come from either Long Island, New York or the Tri-State area (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut). Hofstra features a diverse campus with many international students. At Hofstra University Internet access is essential towards completion of most classroom assignments. All students own cell phones; many own smart phones.
Students’ experience: Three classes totaling 70 students from Hofstra University’s School of Communication participated in the Unplugged experiment in September and October 2010.