TRU’s Digital Detox 2020 is brought to you by the Learning Technology Team, housed over in Open Learning. You might know us best from answering your Moodle Support questions in the dead of night, or from our learning technology workshops. We’re also here to help if your research project needs a website, if you need an e-portfolio, or if you’re struggling with Mattermost, Big Blue Button, or any of the other technologies we support on campus. You can find out more about the work we do by checking out our workshops.

If you’re used to thinking of a digital detox in terms of abstinence, this isn’t that.

Talking about a “detox” is loaded language, to be sure. But so much of the technology we use everyday has toxicity baked in at the design level — issues like exploitation, inaccessibility, and inequity are features, not bugs. So without getting hysterical about the state of the world (okay, maybe a little bit), we’re going to talk frankly about the problems with the way we use technology and, more often, the way technology uses us.

We want to help you think about technology and how it intersects with your learning and teaching in new and more complex ways. Many of us feel overwhelmed by technology, and ideas like data privacy and are often not contextualized. And what are you supposed to do in a world that is increasingly controlled by big technology companies, anyway? Just go live in a cave? Our jobs, social lives, and family relationships often hinge on the very technologies we know pose such problems. Unplugging is an option for very few of us. So instead, we want to provide you with another way of thinking about the challenges of technology in 2020, and hopefully empower you to make better choices.

And if you’re here from away, TRU is Thompson Rivers University, an open-access research university located in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada. We’re known for small class sizes, committed learners and teachers, and an explicit commitment to making post-secondary education open and accessible. Learn more about what we do here. The Open Learning division of TRU is a leader in distance education, and it houses the Department of Learning Design and Innovation. Learn more about TRU-OL here.

The content for the Digital Detox was written by Brenna Clarke Gray (that’s me). I’m a Coordinator, Educational Technologies here at TRU. I’m indebted to the rest of my team — Jamie Drozda and Matthew Stranach — and to our director, Brian Lamb, for the development of this project. Thanks to Thomas Sandhoff for web and graphics design, and to Jon Fulton for video development. If you have questions about anything you find on these pages, please email me at bgray@tru.ca or, even better, find me on Twitter.