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Digital Diversifications: Special Edition

From artificial intelligence chatbots and videogames, to youth-authored podcasts and fandom spaces, the five pieces included in this special edition of ELA Today provide an entrypoint to diversifying ELA through the digital. While these contributions simply scratch the surface when it comes to the vast potential varied technologies offer for classroom learning, we hope they inspire educators, youth workers, administrators, and parents to expand notions of the texts and practices considered as rigorous and worthy of study in formal educational contexts. 

Digital Diversifications: Special Edition for ELA Today

    Commonly depicted as frivolous entertainment, wasted time, or even dangerous, students’ out-of-school digital interests are largely excluded from formal learning contexts. Moving past our own potential biases (and the ever-present technophobic headlines shouting “SCREEN ADDICTION!” and “VIOLENCE IN VIDEOGAMES!”), helps to reveal the ways in which youth turn to the digital to learn, forge community, and discover voice: processes most educators would deem as essential in ELA.  

    Exploring the ‘why’ of language education

      Why not mix formal learning structures, encompassing grammar and syntax, with something more youth-centered that  amplifies different voices, perspectives, and cultures? I’ve traveled to many countries, and broken English has never stopped me from understanding others, connecting with others, or even falling in love. So when it comes to teaching language, why not start with what you have?

      Connecting Classroom and Fandom: Reflecting on the Changing Landscape of Fanfiction and its Potential in the ELA Classroom

        In our context as educators, fanfiction is meaningful to the ELA classroom because it challenges the notion that there is only one “right” or appropriate format for storytelling and authorship. It challenges passive approaches to texts by promoting active engagement, which can facilitate deeper critical reflection and empower students by making storytelling more approachable. In other words, fanfiction can expand the possibilities for ELA teaching and learning by integrating creative production into the study of canonical and other texts.

        Multimodal Companion Texts

          The use of multimodal and digital companion texts peaks the interest of students in the classroom by using media they are already looking at, listening to, and playing with outside of the classroom. Considering these potentials, these texts can provide teachers with a great opportunity to connect student interests to in-class learning, ascribing value to the learning that takes place outside of the classroom.

          Teaching Creative Writing Through Video Games 

            Although technologies like phones and video games have become increasingly important in students’ personal and school lives, many educators have been trying to find ways to prevent their use in classroom spaces. But I wonder if we’ve been heading in the wrong direction when it comes to technology… What if instead of banning, we try to tie these new and emerging technologies into our classroom practice? 

            The Algorithmic Elephant in the Room: The Use of AI in ELA 

              For many English teachers, the rapid development of AI (Artificial Intelligence) writing tools like ChatGPT is causing widespread panic. If you feel intimidated by this reality, you certainly are not alone. Let me explain why there may also be cause for relief, and maybe even excitement.