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About Unplug Your Class

Educators have discovered that unplugging (or digital detox, digital sabbath, whatever you might call it) presents a great way to create teachable moments. Young people get a chance to explore their inner resources, re-negotiate outer demands by their social networks, and think more critically about mainstream culture.

The Unplug Your Class website synthesizes some ideas employed by instructors at: the College of Charleston – Eastern Michigan University – Emerson College – Fordham University – Long Island University-Brooklyn – Manhattan College – Medaille College – St. Michael’s College – University of Alberta – University of Nevada – University of South Carolina – Wilfred Laurier University – and elsewhere.

More ideas and suggestions are welcome! Just click on “Participate” in the navigation bar above to submit yours.

About the Site Creator

I’m Jennifer Rauch (read my bio here), a professor at Long Island University-Brooklyn, where I teach courses at the intersection of media, society, technology, communication and popular culture such as “Social Media, Social Change” and “Digital Disenchantment & Analog Alternatives.”

I founded “Unplug Your Class” to share tips, news, videos, and other resources with educators and students who are doing class experiments like these. I also created the blog “Slow Media” to reflect on living a less-mediated life.

When I gave my students the option of spending a week offline or writing a term paper, I expected a tall stack of the latter. “They’re 20 years old,” I thought. “They don’t know how to live without the Internet, nor do they want to. A 10-page paper must seem less onerous than seven days without computers.”

Imagine my surprise when everyone in the class submitted a reflective essay and media-use diary describing his or her experiment going off the grid. Why so much interest? Studies suggest that students are frustrated with being connected all the time and eager to explore alternatives.

My own research often looks at people who use activist and alternative media as well as those who strive to balance their digital lives with analog and offline activities through innovative cultural practices such as Digital Detox and Sabbath, Slow Media, and Unplugging.

I’ve talked about these ideas in interviews with NPR’s Marketplace and with many other journalists in Australia, Canada, Chile, France, Germany and the United States.