Because education is concerned with learning, and 'learning' and the way it's defined is somewhat contentious (to say the least) I would like to venture out and ask the question: Can learning ever occur if a learner is not engaged with the process and content of the learning? Put another way, if a learner IS engaged, does it therefore follow that they are learning? Can a learner be engaged but not learning?
I don't think so, and that's a huge part of the benefit of e-learning opportunities. Not many other tools in education have such a power to draw the learner in and help them to see things in different ways, and to be constantly discovering the 'new'. And discovering something new and getting a thrill out of it is, in itself, engagement.
I was looking at the weblogged wiki yesterday (this is Will Richardson's wiki), in particular what he had to say about connective writing, '...the ability to publish in a variety of media with the intention of connecting it to others who share an interest (or passion) in the topic'.
I really believe this is the way forward for engaging students in authentic learning. This is what Web 2.0 is all about.