I have been struggling with Stephen Downes on this as well. I have worked in my classrooms (both secondary and higher ed) to remove the distinctions between learning and education. The fundamental difference, as I see it, is that education requires some curriculum that is developed into semester or trimester chunks by institutional needs. Learning is pursuing a individual or small group goal. The issue I have been struggling with is how to reconcile these two. I have worked to give my students a sense of pursuing their own learning, whilst seeking to meet the educational objectives of the various institutions for which I work.
It is similar to me to the various research and conversation on “student choice” in classrooms. It is one thing to say that I am trying to learn Portuguese (which I am) and allowing myself a variety of choices of platforms and resources and pacing , etc. More typically, we talk about offering students choice in terms of process or more usually product. However, particularly in an elementary or secondary setting, this conversation seems to ignore that students are compelled (either by laws or their parents or grades or whatever), and so the “choices” we give them sit on top of a situation that is fundamentally involuntary.
All of this is by way of saying that I can see your discussions of engagement and caring about learning as ways to close these gaps.