Well, we’ve done it, my friends.
This month, you’ve read along with me through eight substantive essays on equity and access, ethics and data privacy, algorithms, contract cheating, critical digital pedagogies, possibilities for resistance, open education, and (my favourite) care ethics. Scrivener (my nerdy word processor of choice) tells me that if you’ve read the whole Detox, that’s the equivalent of 52 pages of a paperback book — and also that the most commonly used words in the Detox are “data,” “students,” and “learning.” We’ve navigated complex and frankly depressing waters together, and we’ve come out the other side with some strategies for how to think through big, important, and challenging questions together.
And now we’re at the end.
My hope was always that this project would chart something of a trajectory of my own progress through these issues, from the despair that comes with establishing a deeper understanding of the technological issues that confront us, to a commitment to approaching my own practice from a position of clear-eyed optimism that sees the challenges ahead and believes that we can make better choices when armed with better information. Along the way, I may have slightly radicalized myself. But that’s okay. Because — and this is really what I hope you take home from our month of thinking together — this stuff matters. It matters a lot.
The digital world is the real world now, and the issues that we’ve explored in this series, from equity and access to privacy and bias, shape very real lives: they determine who gets into university and what supports they are offered, and beyond that they have implications for relationships to law enforcement, for our financial futures, for where we can buy a home and what health care we have access to. And that’s why the larger questions posed by this Detox — what does this tool improve or enhance, and who is profiting from this tool and how — are essential as the starting framework of our thinking when faced with any technology, in our personal or professional lives. And when we come to implement these tools, if we can do so with an ethic of care, and centre that sense of responsibility and responsiveness, well. We might survive this thing.
It’s my hope that you’ll carry these questions forward with you as you leave the Detox, throughout 2020 and beyond. We have some additional supports for you if you’re on the TRU campus:
- Our final face-to-face session is this Friday! Good coffee, good snack, great conversation. This session will focus on goal-setting and thinking about what we can change in our practice as we plan to move forward from this Detox.
- Our monthly Community of Practice sessions build on this kind of deep critical thinking, but also offer a space for support in developing your practice working with learning technologies.
If you’re not on the TRU campus — condolences to you! — I want to encourage you to use the comment section here to consider setting some public-ish goals for yourself in response to the following prompts:
- What is one technology I engage with that I should learn more about or find an alternative to using, based on what I’ve learned this month?
- What can I change about the way I frame technology for others (my students, my friends, my parents, my children) to help them engage in a more healthy and ethical way?
- Where can I resist, challenge, or counter unethical technologies in my daily life? What can I do to embrace a more ethical relationship to the technologies I do use?
I’ve loved sharing my thoughts with you this month, and I hope you’ll continue to revisit these posts and pass them on to others as a resource — they’ll remain archived here. And we’ll be back next year with a new Detox for the impossibly futuristic sounding 2021.
Thanks for reading and thinking along with me this month.