Three Rs meets E3

21 percent of kids say school is interesting. After attending the ISTE conference and E3, reporter Bob Sipchen sees the reasons why in stark relief.

How are we to educate our children in the future? Will we continue to be stuck in the stodgy old paradigm or spring forward into new ways of learning? These questions are pondered by Bob Sipchen in his L.A. Times School Me blog after attending the International Society for Technology in Education conference in San Diego.

A recent Department of Education survey found only 21 percent of students said school was engaging or interesting. With numbers like that, educators have their work cut out for them. Sipchen compares the ISTE conference to a recently attended to the E3, the national electronic gaming convention held in May in Los Angeles.

"No bikini-clad and laser-gun-armed babes cajoled us; nor did green ogre blood and balls of virtual flame careen through the hall on drive-in-movie-size screens. In other words, serious learning will always be boring compared to the entertainment bombarding young people 24/7 these days.

And when the revolution passes us by or crushes us, who will we blame?"

Despite the proliferation of white boards, TiVos, iPods and other high-tech gadgets, the seminars at ISTE were fairly traditional. One titled "How to Engage a Reluctant Reader by Leveraging Technology" was typical fare. Sipchen says that technology is accelerating at such a fast past that it is changing the very nature of how students learn.

We adults are paper-oriented in our learning. The kids now sitting in those little wood-and-steel desks are light-and-sound-oriented. They not only know where to find, in an instant, more information than their teacher could learn in a lifetime, but they absorb it in a flash and thump of video — and know how to create and ship their own multimedia content around the globe.

Schools are struggling to make technology fit into old educational model. They ban cellphones, confiscate iPods and block access to MySpace accounts.

In talking to teachers and IT gurus attending the conference, Sipchen concludes that we need to find ways to help kids embrace learning in the Information Age because one way or another they going to drag the old paper-pushers anyway.