Recently, I found myself involved in a lively debate via Twitter on the use of the word “Learner” when describing those who participate in learning. When I say lively, I mean lively. Just know, the feelings were at least as strong about “Participant” and “Attendee”.
Several people in our industry feel this is no longer an appropriate reference. I respectfully disagree. At least until we determine a strong alternative reference that many-to-most can agree upon.
New employees and new associates, as such, are used when describing a subset of the full group whenever needed. I don’t see how this is objectionable. Do you? In fact, I believe a qualifer like this is is necessary when in conversation with leadership, planning for the future, determining needs, and more. At times, it is also necessary to refer to the various departments in the same manner. For example, finance, operations, clinical, etc. The organization is huge with a matrix organizational construct. Being specific when referring to associate work groups saves time and is universally understood.
Learner also works when discussing concepts and practices with learning professionals –no matter what their industry– across the globe.
Some suggest simply calling them “Workers” or “Employees” is all that is needed. Does this adequately define the group being referred to? For me, these terms are widely in use for a variety of other reasons and broader reference. I don’t think this is the full answer.
So, the question is still out there. What should we call them? I’m okay continuing to stick with “Learners, Attendees, and Participants”, until further notice. But, I’m open to suggestion. Wha cha got?