They’re not learners, they’re people

They’re not learners, they’re people.

I don’t know if this has any value in stating but it’s something that’s been rolling around in my head for a while. I often hear people referred to as learners, or “my learners” when talking about the audience.

It seems odd to me to refer to people in a way that assumes the action that they will get from your creation. I can’t think of another industry that does the same. The most common term I hear for other industries is ‘user’.

User seems a better term to refer to people that will be using your course. To assume they’ll learn is a bit presumptuous and in most cases I’d argue just isn’t true. When was the last time you learned something from compliance training?

So, let’s start treating people as people, not learners. They aren’t learners unless they’re learning, which isn’t something we get to decide.

Once we stop referring to them as learners, it’s easy to realize they are people. They might not be interested in what we’re creating. If we find a course boring then they will too.

Just because it’s a course and they’re taking it doesn’t make them a learner. It means they’re required to take it and they’re using it for some other reason (access to application, compliance, meet somebody else’s requirement, etc.)

Recognize they’re people, they don’t want to take that compliance course. They find it as boring as you and I do, therefor let’s not waste their time. Let’s figure out what the least we can do for them is as a person, not a learner.

They're not learners, they're people