Pushing beyond Good Enough Gina Davis: Digital Citizenship Portfolio

When I consider how my light is spent, Ere half my days in this dark world and wide-

The great poet John Milton begins his reflective poem on his life's work with a reference to his blindness. Milton's blindness was caused by many hours of close study and reading by candlelight. He was completely blind by the time Paradise Lost was finished. I love thinking about the irony of sharing the "light of world" while Milton was in darkness. I think this applies to my place within my digital citizenship journey. I function as a mother, consumer, and teacher without fully embracing every new technology innovation. I embrace the apps and interfaces I need: Outlook, Onedrive, Google, and Facebook, but I find that I might be squinting by candlelight as I use my embraced technology. I regularly complain about something not working just the way I want or need, but I don't go seek out a new alternative to my problems. I was dissatisfied with the lack of personal connection I was seeing on Facebook, but I did not take the initiative to check out Instagram. I settle with good enough....and find I might be reading by candlelight....squinting through the darkness.....

And that one talent which is death to hide Lodg'd with me useless, though my soul more bent To serve therewith my Maker, and present My true account, lest he returning chide, "Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?"

Milton continues his poem asking whether the Lord requires that he share his talent, even though he is blind. This question is something we all ask ourselves. Do I really have to keep working? I am old, I have been teaching a long time; do I really need to keep developing my craft? My current digital proficiency and attitude recognizes that I must. In order to stay relevant and meet my student's needs, I need to keep seeking the light of innovation. This requires time. I need time to discover new things. I don't think I instantly understand new electronic platforms like some of my colleagues. I also think our learning styles apply to our ability to learn new tools. I am a global processor and metaphoric learner, a "How To" video on YouTube is not the perfect learning tool for me. I need to find a regular learning strategy for my own learning style and regularly employ it in the everchanging digital world. Our HACKER training allows me time and space to figure out a systematic strategy to do this.

But Patience, to prevent That murmur, soon replies: "God doth not need Either man's work or his own gifts: who best Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed And post o'er land and ocean without rest: They also serve who only stand and wait.- Milton

The close of the poem is the reassurance that the work that we do on this Earth is not in vain. The Lord's work is bigger than the trials of man and He works through both the sight and blindness of man. This is a great comfort, lest you become overwhelmed with the scope of changing technology and our place in the world. My classroom is a beautiful, collaborative place. As I move forward in embracing new platforms and instructional practices, this collaboration will not fade. It is much more likely to grow brighter. My students are completing a research paper in a completely electronic space and this allows them to share documents, comments and sources in engaging ways. Their digital portfolio are real examples of thoughtful work and students commented last week, "I know how to do that, I have a copy of the example from last year in my Google drive." Students did not have access to skills from years before walking around in their backpacks in former years. My classroom is more collaborative, more engaging, and genuinely brighter as I embrace time and space for students to develop their language skills. I simply need to be willing to push past the feeling that what I use is "good enough" and recognize that I should always strive for the brighter light.


Created with images by aschenputtel - "candles light flame" • CircaSassy - "A festival of song: a series of evenings with the greatest poets of the English language (1876)" • Steve Snodgrass - "Gaslight" • igo.rs - "Edison bulbs" • kloxklox_com - "ceiling lamp lamp chandelier"

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