Every week, you’ll read a deeply researched (but always readable!) essay about the troubled relationship between our technologies and our classrooms — and some strategies to make less toxic choices. We’ll share up-to-date thinking from around the globe.


In the comments sections and in live-online sessions, you’ll meet other people who care about these issues, from TRU and around the world. And if you want to share your own expertise, there’s space to contribute your long-form thoughts and become a part of our Detox experience!


Let’s understand what makes the current technology landscape so toxic and make a plan for how to choose and engage with our tools more ethically. We can do better once we understand what drives the inequities and harms in our current system.

What to Expect When You’re Digitally Detoxing

This is not an abstinence detox: we know you have to live, work, teach, and learn with technology, and we want to help you make that relationship less toxic.

For the month of February, you’ll get three essays a week that explore one troubling technology in a higher education context. We’ll talk about learning analytics, bossware for learning, algorithmic test proctoring, learning management systems, homework systems, “inclusive access,” and what making different choices can look like as we move forward.

And there will be oppoortunities to connect “live,” across distance, to talk and plan.

All members of the TRU community and beyond are welcome to join in our conversation. Register by 31 January to ensure you receive every update.


If you change your mind, you can email bgray@tru.ca to remove yourself from our mailing list.

TRU Digital Detox 2024

Posts will appear here through the Detox period and will be archived on this site thereafter.

Two hands exploring a pile of paperwork on a desk. The image has been highly stylized to appear toxic.

Toxic Tech #5: Generative AI: Sustainability, Equity, and Living Our Values (or not)

What Is Generative AI, Anyway? In my last post, I went on at some length about what Generative AI is and its limitations. Rather than rehash it all here, I’ll refer you back to that section, but here’s what I think is the most salient point: It’s a prediction machine. And its predictions are often…

A stylized image of a microchip with a brain icon in it.

Toxic Tech #4: Generative AI: Intellectual Property and Other Things I Guess We Don’t Care About Anymore

What Is Generative AI, Anyway? I won’t recap all of last year’s Detox, which dealt with artificial intelligence technologies in education more broadly. In my talks about AI over the last year, this is how I’ve been distinguishing between AI and Generative AI: “Artificial intelligence” is a catch-all term that encompasses a wide range of…

Toxic Tech #3: Algorithmic Test Proctoring and the Question of How Much Harm is the Right Amount

Toxic Tech #3: Algorithmic Test Proctoring and the Question of How Much Harm is the Right Amount

What Is Algorithmic Test Proctoring, Anyway? Algorithmic test proctoring allows students to take exams away from campus without a human proctor (though some services employ those, too). Students sit at their home computer with their cameras on, and an algorithm notes their behaviours – fidgeting, looking away, movement – and assesses whether these are normative…

An overexposed icon of a trash can.

Toxic Tech #2: The Learning Management System and the Straitjacket We Bought Ourselves

What is the LMS, Anyway? A Learning Management System is, at its core, a tool for organizing course materials with the explicit intention of teaching. It has been, and largely remains, the centrepiece learning technology at most institutions. While lots of tools claim to have LMS functionality (like MS Teams, for example), I think there’s…

An abstract image showing numbers and data points devoid of context.

Toxic Tech #1: Learning Analytics and the Dangers of a Little Bit of Knowledge

What are Learning Analytics, Anyway? As we are all increasingly aware, everything we click on leaves a data trail behind it that someone else can sniff out and use to come to all kinds of conclusions about me. Logging in to a loyalty card to check your points balance likely leaves a breadcrumb that allows…