Learners and Students: Main Difference


Learners and StudentsMany people wonder whether there is a difference between students and learners. In fact, with the shift of traditional education, online learning has become a more popular mode of education. However, not many people understand how students differ from learners. This question is still under discussion. Some people use the words “student” and “learner” interchangeably when they are talking about those who study in college or university. If to look these words in the dictionary, you would hardly find a clear definition. Students are more often defined as those who study in school, while learners are not defined at all. The following essay will try to clarify the difference between students and learners in order to understand the difference between online and traditional education. The existing definitions of learners are not satisfactory as they do not capture the essence of this word. The basic difference between learners and students is that the first ones are enrolled in online learning, while the latter study either in school or in higher educational establishments. Let us discuss this issue in greater detail.

What is a student? In our opinion, a student is a person who is studying in the formal educational environment. Students are given grades in classroom and are evaluated by teachers to move through different stages of educational system. When we think about students, such elements of education as books, desks, backpacks and academic discipline usually come to our mind. The word “student” also reminds us of the established order, namely order in school, order in the educational system and order in classroom where education is provided. Every one of us has experience of being a student, so we understand the game of school, its rules and the ways of following them in order to get what we need and win teacher’s appreciation.

What is a learner? A learner does not have to follow the rules of traditional education. Such people do not want grades, but rather want to get a feedback from their instructors. They seek opportunities for cooperation with teachers, rather than competition with other students. Learners are in control of their learning experience and they usually pursue not only the subjects that they are passionate about, but also the ones that will help them to grow and develop as a personality. Learners are not restricted by educational establishments, time or curriculum that is established by their instructors. Such learning is engaging and very satisfying for young people. Therefore, the difference between a learner and a student lies in the fact that students are under constant control in their learning experience, while learners are not confined with such restrictions.

Let us further discuss the difference between students and learners in greater detail. Skilled learners do not always show exemplary results in their studies. This does not refer to such exceptional learners as Einstein and Gates. Instead, it refers to a great number of people who feel passionate about gaining new knowledge and have exceptional abilities in remembering various facts. Skilled learners include self-taught scholars and musicians. Learners are people who can ignore the task of doing homework because they think it is boring or do not listen to the lectures of their teachers because they prefer learning some information on their own. Such people cannot be called good students, but they are natural learners. Here are some basic differences between learners and students that will help you understand what distinguishes good students and skilled learners:

  • The first difference is related to the interrelationships of students and learners with their educators. In fact, students can be considered employees that are expected to adhere to the instructions of their teachers with much precision. On the other hand, learners are like citizens who have a great interest in knowledge and everything that should be learnt to become a decent part of the society. This is one of the main differences between students and learners.
  • As for the relationships with classmates, it should be noted that in the confines of traditional education, there exists much competition between students. On the other hand, online learning suggests that learners cooperate with others instead of competing with them. This makes a difference in terms of how students and learners acquire new knowledge. Students tend to compete with their classmates for the sake of getting a higher grade or excelling in education to a greater extent than other students. In this regard, the experience of learners is much more productive because they learn how to efficiently cooperate with others and this is a useful skill that should be acquired to achieve success in later years of life.
  • Another difference between students and learners lies in the different attitude to motivation. Students are obliged to work hard to get “compensation” from their teachers in the form of grades and other means of knowledge assessment. Learners do not have to be motivated by grades or marks. Their source of motivation lies in the understanding and realization of how valuable their work is, especially if their studies have some value to others. This means that online learning is in many ways more progressive than traditional education and eventually, it produces people that are more prepared for future career and associated hardships in the working environment.
  • One more difference lies in compensation of students and learners. Students are expected to get grades in order to enter college or get a good job. On the other hand, learners are compensated by the sense of an accomplishment that is not given to them but rather earned by them in order to get new knowledge in reward.
  • Another difference is related to the qualities acquired by students and learners. Students are supposed to be objective-oriented, disciplined to work in a group and compliant with the rules established by the school, while learners are self-disciplined, resourceful and goal-oriented. Unlike students, learners are supposed to accomplish some goals and produce new knowledge instead of simply acquiring new skills and abilities.

The above differences between students and learners have shown that online learning is much more productive and progressive compared to traditional education because learners are not restricted by the rules of educational establishments. They have different sources of motivation and tend to acquire knowledge in a different manner. However, traditional education also has its merits and demerits and for now, both forms of education prove to be valuable for the world society.

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