Students v. Learners

Like Scott McLeod, I am struck by the simplicity and depth of this chart from a post by David Warlick:



Relationship with educators

Students are employees, required to obediently follow instructions.

Learners are citizens with a vested interest in the learning society.

Relationship with other “Students”

Students are competitors

Learners are collaborators


Obligation: Students are culturally obliged to work for the teacher & for compensation (below)

Responsibility: Learners are motivated by an understood and realized “value” in their work, especially when it is valuable to others.


Institution defined grades and gateways to college (another institution) and a good job (another institution)

A sense of ongoing accomplishment that is not delivered but earned, and not symbolic but tangible and valuable — an investment.

Mode of Operation

Compliant, group-disciplined, objective-oriented, and trainable

Persevering, self-disciplined, group- and goal-oriented, resourceful, and learning in order to achieve rather than achieving learning.





..with packaged knowledge and tools for recording packaged knowledge — prescribed and paced learning

..with tools for exploring a networked variety of content, experimenting with that content, and discovering, concluding, and constructing knowledge — invented learning


Measuring what the student has learned.

Measuring what the learner can do with what has been learned.

Additional questions:

> What assumptions about where the young people in our learning communities fall on this chart do the adults in our communities make?

> What about parents?

> To what extent do we foster opportunities to share our pedagogical philosophies within learning communities?

> Have you undergone a personal transition from a “student” identity to a “learner” identity? If so, was that intentional? Accidental? Counter-cultural?


Posted on May 18, 2011, in big picture. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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