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May 28, 2010


Blue dye plus water? Or blue water?

by Peter Skillen

Paul Levinson, as referenced by Derrick de Kerckhove in The Skin of Culture says, “The addition of a drop of blue dye to a glass of water results not in blue dye plus water, but in blue water: a new reality.” De Kerckhove indicates that McLuhan (his mentor) and others pointed out that “the inculcation of the habit of literacy results not in a pre-literate world plus readers, but in a literate world: a new world in which everything is seen through the eyes of literacy“.

So is there a new reality with regards to technology merging with humanity?

Have we successfully integrated Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) into the lives of students? It seems to me that this will be achieved when we see them not simply using ICT as ‘tools’, but rather when we see students thinking differently as a result of their ubiquitous presence and facility. The invention of words, and subsequently the printing press, resulted in a new literacy because people now had words with which to think and to communicate. ‘Blue water’ with respect to ICT means that people must sufficiently appropriate these technologies in order that they become ‘media with which to think and to communicate’.

Or perhaps it is indeed the wrong question to ask – ‘have we successfully integrated ICT’? Perhaps the situation is that in spite of the education system, people are in the ‘blue water’ of a technological literacy. People adapt and evolve faster than the systems they must occupy.

I think, as teachers, we have a role to play.

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Feb 9 2011

    I see both, unfortunately. I think that, left to their own devices, students are OK with blue water. Unless education gets in the road, they’re capable of swimming and skiing and rafting on their own, often swimming with their buddies. But, as long as we use the term “integrate” or we make using technology in the classroom as an event, it’s just “blue dye”.

    Let’s not sell kids short. Look at the terminology that we would gasp at a few years ago – “viral”, “C U L8TR” that has become the norm. They’ve replaced email with texting as a primary source of communication. In so many ways, teachers need to catch up as students show a fluid, powerful use of their technologies.

    Perhaps it’s time that we did a little Blue Water rafting and try to catch up in some areas.

    • peter skillen
      Feb 9 2011


      Or we might make a curriculum for it – a scope and sequence – and slow the kids down. I often think that if centipedes had an instruction manual on ‘walking’, that they would be tripping all over their feet!

      We may have a ‘thumbing’ curriculum in a few years to ensure that everyone can text properly.

      Thumbs up! peter


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