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Difference between Training and Learning


Can any of the members either point me to good sources dealing with the difference between Training and Learning or offer me hersqhis opinion on this issue.
I believe it's more than a semantic point.
Meir Navon

8 Responses

  1. The difference is who’s doing it!
    The switch from “training” to “learning” has helped all of us in the field to focus on the learner and his or her needs, rather than on our own. We are able then to concentrate on the learning that is going on in the room, rather than on the training we are doing.

    The word to train comes from the Latin ‘trahere’ meaning to pull, so is clearly something done to people, rather than something they do for themselves. The expression to train was apparently first used to refer to training a plant up a wall or something!

    Learning is something people do for themselves with us as facilitators of that learning. They then remain responsible for their success.

    I can recommend a book by Frances and Roland Bee, Facilitation Skills (ISBN 0-85292-733-9) which goes into this in more detail.

    Hope this helps. Email me if you want to explore this further.

  2. Training , Learning & Development
    You are right about these two words being used interchangeably. The pedant in me dislikes this trend. But, in a way, it represents a philosophical shift in the profession where learning is the primary focus of what we do, not training After all, training costs money, learning delivers benefits.
    Nevertheless it is useful to be able to distinguish between the two. Or, if you include ‘Development’, between the three. Here are my definitions. I hope they help.

    Training is any planned activity designed to help an individual or a group to learn to do things differently , or to do different things within the context of their current or future jobs.

    Development is any untaught activity, observation or study where the primary purpose is learning or increasing someone’s potential. Continuous development suggests ongoing learning, growth and change.

    Learning is the process of acquiring or developing:
    – knowledge and understanding
    – skills and changes in behaviour
    – emotional competence (eg confidence) and attitudinal change

  3. Training and learning differences
    A quick and simple way is to think of training as ‘something done to somebody’ eg being trained how to use a machine, how to run a macro.
    Learning is done by the receiver of the training ie they learn how to write a macro.
    YOU train them to write a macro, THEY learn how to write many more

  4. The dictionary helps (a bit)
    Drawing on Cassell:

    ‘Training’: the preparation of a person or animal for a particular activity, occupation etc

    ‘To learn’: to acquire knowledge of or skill in by study, experience, or instruction.

    So the distinction – if there is one – is fine and can usefully be summed up as ‘we train in order to learn’. Training is the process (any process – whether or not directed by A N Other, whether or not formal or informal, whether or not on the job or off the job, whether or not expensive or cheap, whether or not for a current or future role etc) and learning hopefully the outcome.

    There are lots of people with different views because we all have our own personal meanings and ‘pet theories’ for words – hence the market for dictionaries! This is akin to the debate about the difference between aims, objectives, goals and targets – you are likely to get people giving you their (strongly held) personal theories, but in fact there is no single ‘right’ answer.

  5. Next year’s buzzword?
    I’ll echo some of the sentiments expressed here. We’re a college and we train people. They attend lectures and workshops, they take exams; we train them, they learn from us (and from each other, their employers etc).

    Training and learning are not interchangable but are related. The government branding of initiatives contributes to the confusion. Over the years, Our government funding has arrived under the guise of manpower ( commission), training (…agency, …and enterprise) and now learning (…and skills).

    With the prospect of ‘agency’ arrangements in the Cassells report, what price on the LSC becoming the Learning Agency? Place your bets now!

  6. I think it’s more than semantics
    I think my view is closest to Jennifer’s. The example of training a plant is a good one – we do things to it in the hope it will go where we want it to. The result is often pleasing to us the trainer but in fact unnatural to the plant (eg trees were not designed by nature to grow in an espalier shape). So an interesting question is “what right do I have to distort you in order to get a result that is desirable to me?”

    Trains of carriages or wagons also follow the locomotive; the train of a dress follows the wearer thereof.

    I think most learning does not arise as a result of training. If you ask yourself, or a group of people, to identify 4 or 5 or whatever really important things you or they have learned in the past year/2 years/life so far, I would be surprised if many came as the result of training – ie of someone else telling or showing you, deciding for you, what the right answer is, the best way to do things, the correct way to be.

    So I don’t think it’s a semantic issue, I think it is really important, about power, control, who determines what’s right, and so on.

  7. Training Vs Learning
    Training usually involves attempting to devlop in others certain skills, habits, or attitudes. Knowledge is usually transferred from the trainer to the learner. The learner might learn something, but the learning and the learning experience might be somewhat impoverished as the learner might not necessarily see why the training is needed – it might not be meaningful to the learner. Further, there might be limited opportunities for the learner to draw upon his or her experience and enter in to a dialogue with the trainer, challenging the trainer’s assumptions, seeking further information through research to support or refute what the trainer says, testing new and existing versions of reality with colleagues, generating new knowledge, which might include understanding and sensitivity to situations, techniques, and concepts that the trainer had never thought of, or even might not be able to see, or accept. The learner might move on to take an interest in new domains which are meaningful and thus exciting, seeing the training as a small and perhaps insignificant part of a broader and perhaps outmoded system, diverging from the path the trainer has set out as the direction of the training. Or not. This depends upon the learner’s learning.

  8. teaching versus learning
    “Tell me, and I forget, Teach me, and I remember, Involve me, and I learn
    (Franklin or Konfuzius)

    I think this saying gives a deap insight. If you like to use this for your HR-strategy you need interactive learning. The manager becomes often the facilitator – as the knowledge is with the people. The basic of the philosophie is:

    1. Awaken my curiosity! Let me see for myself what is so interesting.
    2. Give me only as much information as is necessary, no more, no less.
    3. Let me think about the information, discuss it, work with it, so I can come to my own conclusions.
    4. Help me see the whole context so I have a complete understanding.
    5.Help me be able to apply what I’ve learned so that I build on it and don’t forget it!

    Have a look at Celemi where they use simulations and learning programs.
    Claudia Schmitz


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