This idea is particularly true in math education where we have, perhaps, been more guilty of entertaining children with manipulative materials and math games at the expense of engagement. The concept of engagement in learning means that the learner is actively, cognitively involved with the material to be learned. Something is happening to their thinking that is changing the way they think for ever; the permanent development of a concept, skill or disposition.
The difference between engagement and entertainment is not as clear or as easy to define as one might think. Here's a list of the perceived differences by Robyn Jackson, president of ASCDedge .
There is clearly an interplay between the things listed in each column. And here's a list of myths by the same author.
Probably the place where the distinction becomes the most critical in the classroom is with the use of technology especially when games, activities or the internet are being used. Here's an attempt to differentiate between the two in relation to the use of technology in the classroom.
Finally, it looks like we won't have to worry about whether our students are engaged or not in the classrooms of the future. Students will all be wearing headsets like the students in this research project at Washington State University . This device will be developed to include a red light attached to the top of the headset. When the student is engaged with the topic under consideration the red light will come on and stay lit until the student becomes disengaged. The task of the teacher will be to make sure all the red lights are on, and remain on, for all 30 students in the class. Each head set will contain a device for calculating the percentage of time the red light has remained on for each student. The data collected each month will be used to evaluate teachers. Yes, it's time to retire.
Here's something interesting I came across recently; Bloom's Digital Taxonomy !