This piece is a nice counterpoint to the article from Donald Clark on engagement last week (though to be clear I'm pretty sure it was not written as a response to Clark). "The issue isn't engagement," writes John Spencer, "it's empowerment." The reason for this is that you can't control the distractions and other forces at work in an online environment that you could in an in-person environment. "Many of these student engagement challenges are actually a lack of student self-direction," he writes. "When students are self-directed, they are self-starters, meaning they can initiate the learning on their own." But self-direction depends on students owning their own learning. "By owning the learning, they have increased buy-in and thus better commitment. By self-managing, they are able to improve their focus."