At first students at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology were not too happy with a school-imposed five day social technology blackout last September.
Three months later the students report they felt less stressed, better able to concentrate and forged a stronger connection with their professors during the blackout. The university conducted a survey and focus groups. This data reported many students found lectures more interesting and devoted more time to homework during the so-called blackout period.
Harrisburg's provost, Eric Darr, decided to experiment with the social media blackout this past fall after seeing this daughter simultaneously juggling several conversations on Facebook, her iPhone and an instant-messaging service.
The student's initial reaction to the blackout was that it was prompted by a spat Darr had with his daughter. Darr dismisses that story as an "urban myth" and says the tale gained momentum after it was (ironically) posted on Facebook.
The findings are reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education. The university's post-blackout survey also found 44 percent of students and 76 percent of professors reported the blackout had taught them something, such as the strengths and weakness of Facebook and the value of face-to-face communications.