The following is from a book chapter I’m working on:
Perhaps more insidious is how technology changes views of engagement in learning. While engagement is an important aspect of learning, technologies have likely changed our definition of “engaged”. Rather than engage students, much of educational technology use is designed to simply entertain students. This notion sends dangerous implicit messages to students that learning is “a bitter medicine that needs the sugar-coating of entertainment to become palatable” (Resnick, 2004) or that only things that are fun are worth doing (Postman, 1985).
Rather than education, this “edutainment” causes an “inflated expectation in the learners that the process of learning should always be colourful and fun, and that they can acquire information without work and serious study” (Okan, 2003, p. 255). Indeed, Kazanci and Okan (2009) described a random sample of language software to be overly entertaining and “disneyfied”. As Okan (2003, p. 259) notes, these messages being sent by technology and technology use are problematic because…
…meaningful learning may sometimes be difficult and requires cognitive and emotional effort should be kept in mind; this point is especially relevant in the light of the fact that post-secondary education is not usually a fun undertaking. On the other hand, recognising [sic] the serious nature of higher education does not necessarily mean that fun is an opposite of activities that are serious.
While educators might see students more “engaged” with the technologies used in classrooms, educators should wonder if students are engaged or entertained.