Friday, 22 February 2008

L plates

I’ve been having debates on-and-off for the last twenty years about what to call learners. Twenty years ago, trainees was going out of fashion, but people were slow to embrace learners. All sorts of other terms were mooted: students always sounded better-suited to the world of academia, and had too many other connotations. Just referring to staff or employees was a copout. Organisers of public courses would use delegates, but they might as well have just said customers or clients.

One term I still occasionally use is participants, suitably vague and devoid of any pejorative meaning. But is learners now acceptable? I’ve often been told people don’t like to be referred to as learners because it implies they’re thick. And, although we were all learner drivers ourselves once, people do tend to sneer at drivers with L plates.

I sense that learner has come of age, and is now more widely acceptable. There’s always a danger that I am too immersed in my profession and have lost touch with what people in the real world think. But I prefer to believe developments like e-learning, and the work of the learning and development profession, have contributed to the proper term becoming more acceptable. Am I right?

There I go, worrying about language again. But it is important – how we speak to each other conveys all sorts of unintentional meanings we should be more guarded about.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Writing Again

I’ve just noted that my last post was over a month ago – I think this is the longest gap between posts since I started this blog. As you can guess, this points to me having been very busy recently. I’ve just completed a major consultancy project, setting up a corporate university for a client, including initiating their first e-learning. I’ve also started work on a new project, writing a book on e-learning strategy. Clients I’ve helped with this subject, and delegates to my public workshops on the same theme, will recognise some of the ideas when the book is published.

But don’t rush off to Amazon just yet – the process is akin to the gestation of an elephant. I submit my final manuscript by the end of July. Not literally, of course – put aside your images of me and my quill pen, blotting my vellum and leaving it to dry. Then the publisher’s work begins: reviewing, editing, index-compiling, typesetting (again, the word doesn’t really describe the modern process), designing, print and production, etc. All of which means you shouldn’t expect to see my magnum opus until early in 2009.

Working title is How to Implement Successful E-learning. I’ll keep you posted on progress, and if anyone’s got any ideas to contribute, I’d love to hear them.