The basic idea surrounding engagement theory is that students must be meaningfully engaged in learning activities through interaction with others and worthwhile tasks.
Such engagement could take place without the use of technology, however, we believe that technology can enhance engagement in ways which are difficult to achieve otherwise.
So engagement theory is intended to be a conceptual framework for technology-based learning and teaching (Kearsley & Shneiderman).
Activities that involve active cognitive processes such as creating, problem-solving, reasoning, decision-making, and evaluation are considered engaged learning. In addition, students are intrinsically motivated to learn due to the real life nature of the learning environment and tasks.
Engagement theory is based upon the idea of creating successful collaborative teams that work on ambitious projects that are meaningful to someone outside the classroom.
These three components, summarized by Relate-Create-Donate, (Shneiderman, B. 1988), imply that learning activities: occur in a group context (i.e., collaborative teams), are project-based and have an outside (authentic) focus.
Shneiderman, B. (1988). Relate-Create-Donate: An educational philosophy for the cyber-generation. Computers and Education, in press. Retrieved July 27, 2009, from http://home.sprynet.com/~gkearsley/engage.htm