Are You Responsible for Their Learning?

I was reading this article the other day, which is a story about how the CEO of PayPal recently condemned his staff in a company-wide email for not using the Paypal app on their own mobile devices. My first reaction was ‘surely you can’t condemn staff who don’t like your app?’ Isn’t it worse for them to pretend to find the PayPal app useful and only download the app to keep their boss happy? But this guy is the CEO of a successful tech startup (many reports I have read suggest that David Marcus has single-handedly re-invigorated PayPal since he joined), so admittedly I am in no position to question what makes his business work. David must have had his reasons to send this email.

But this led me to think about the role of the teacher and the responsibilities surrounding this position. As an educator (whether that be a teacher, trainer, instructional designer etc.), should we be expected to take responsibility of whether or not the students are learning, or at least trying to learn?


I firmly believe the answer is yes.


Many times I’ve heard trainers say “it’s not my fault if they don’t want to learn”. But that IS your job, right? To ensure that they learn? It may sound harsh, but if learners leave the learning environment (classroom, desk, browser on their mobile device) without having learnt, as educators we have failed. I feel embarrassed when people tell me they’ve heard about our LMS, but then apologetically tell me that they haven’t yet started using it. If an employee has not found my LMS useful enough to log in repeatedly, I take it personally. Another missing piece in the jigsaw puzzle, another step I need to take to reach ‘success’. (By the way, ‘success’ is when all employees and customers are using our LMS as their number 1 go-to location for knowledge/learning – my ultimate (work-related) fantasy being that they have voluntarily made the LMS their home page!)


Maybe the name ‘teacher’ is misleading, our responsibility is not to teach. Our responsibility is to ensure that our students are learning. As they say, a salesman is not actually there to sell, but ‘to help people buy’. Same concept, different vocation.


So delivery is just the first step on the road to enabling learning. The learning will then need to be evaluated, refined and re-delivered. And we again travel back down the well trodden path of explaining that learning is a process rather than an event, but I shall save that for another blog someday soon. How do you feel about this? Do you feel responsible for your learners and their development? Have you had any experiences similar to mine, where trainers are not taking responsibility for learning?