[Conference Deadline Extended] Post-COVID Composition NeMLA 2024 Roundtable: Digital Natives and their Discontents: The Post-pandemic College Writing Classroom

deadline for submissions: 
October 15, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA) 2024

In this roundtable session, we intend to prompt a conversation about the prevailing beliefs concerning “digital natives” in the context of the pandemic-era college writing classroom. As most current college writing students have had some experience, typically for the first time, with online learning in high school during the pandemic, we want to foster a discussion about college instructors’ experiences of their students’ abilities, including the associated opportunities and pitfalls, in attempting to navigate these online academic environments.

Our own work on the pedagogical implications of distance learning over most of the 2010s precipitated our coining of the phrase, “the myth of the ‘digital native’" (Magrino and Sorrell 2014), in response to Marc Presnky’s much-lauded 2001 claim. Over the better part of that decade, we challenged what we considered the “false impression" of the popularly trumpeted academic digital proficiency of millennial and post-millennial university students. As subsequent researchers have attested, college educators have often overestimated students’ technological acumen long before the rise of COVID-19, complicating matters even further once we collectively employed a radical shift to “remote" learning. After more than two years back to our classrooms, we are wondering what effect the pandemic-inspired frantic rush to “replicate” the face-to-face classroom experience through synchronicity of platforms such as Zoom and Google Meet in high school has had on our contemporary college writing students.

In this roundtable, we are interested in learning about various interventions discussing online learning at all levels, “digital natives,” the pandemic, asynchronous vs. synchronous approaches, social media, as well as concrete examples of what teachers have done to adjust to our novel, but universal, situation. We would also like to hear about practices that have yielded benefits to our students that could have never been discovered if it weren't for the crucible of the global pandemic.

As we prepare ourselves to meet the first college class to graduate with some pandemic-era learning at the high school level, we would like to reconsider the conception of "digital natives" and the associated myths surrounding them. This roundtable session aims to explore the profound effects the pandemic has had on these students' learning in the college writing classroom and how that "classroom" is currently defined.


William Magrino Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Peter Sorrell St. Vincent College

Please submit abstracts of 250-300 words directly to the NeMLA portal by October 15, 2023:


March 7-10, 2024

Boston, MA