Difference Between Education and Learning

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: May 31, 2023


Difference Between Education and Learning

Why read @ Diffzy

Our articles are well-researched

We make unbiased comparisons

Our content is free to access

We are a one-stop platform for finding differences and comparisons

We compare similar terms in both tabular forms as well as in points


Education and learning, although used interchangeably in dialogue and debate, refer to two distinct concepts. Education prescribes structured settings like schools or universities that are conducive to learning; whereas learning occurs through direct encounters and external stimuli from one's surroundings leading to knowledge acquisition. The contrasting difference highlights how education merely latches on to one aspect of an otherwise comprehensive phenomenon called learning. Institutionalized education is commonly associated with established institutions such as schools, colleges and universities that utilize a uniform framework of didactic methods and evaluations.

The standard educational process includes instruction in various subjects, led by proficient instructors or professors who specialize in their respective fields. The syllabus itself typically follows a predetermined path featuring learning objectives that necessitate meeting certain criteria. In contrast, learning occurs intrinsically through experiences, observations and interactions within the environment that facilitate intellectual growth and development. The acquisition of knowledge is a perpetual undertaking that transpires on both conscious and subconscious levels within an individual's life. Learning can happen anytime, anywhere, and is not dependent on a formal curriculum or a controlled environment like schools. Learning is, therefore an individual's interest to understand the world around them.

Learning may be self-directed (intrinsic motivation) or influenced by advisers, peers, or other sources of information. Here the advisers don't force them to learn, it is still the individual's interest playing an important role.

Education vs Learning

The formality and structure of the educational process are one of the main differences between education and learning. A formal process with predetermined goals, outcomes and objectives that occurs within a structured system is known as education. It frequently has a certification or degree attached to it as a recognition of the learned knowledge and abilities during the course. For example, you begin your education at the kindergarten level, where you learn the alphabet, numbers and simple phrases, along with basic mathematical skills. Then you move on to middle school, where you are introduced to nee subjects such as science and social. After that, you begin high school, where you learn in-depth and prepare for competitive exams to join Universities for your bachelor's or Diploma degree in the field that you find interest in and so on. You can continue your education to whatever level you what, the highest being a PhD.  Contrarily, learning is a free-form process that is not constrained by a set structure or curriculum. It promotes greater understanding and mastery of a subject, not necessarily leading to a certification or degree. Education is usually forced, whereas learning comes from within an individual.

Let's dive deeper into the differences between education and learning

Difference Between Education and Learning in Tabular Form

Parameters of ComparisonEducationLearning
GuidanceEducation usually occurs under a guide such as a teacher, mentor, etc.Learning doesn't necessarily require guidance as it's a personal process.
ProcessEducation is a systematic process which requires a person to follow a curriculum.Learning is not a systematic process as it can be achieved in any kind of way.
MotivationEducation is brought by extrinsic motivation, that is, the outside environment motivates a person to learn.Learning is brought by intrinsic motivation, that is, a person's interest brings the motivation to learn.
Age limitEducation is received by a person up to a certain age limitLearning is a lifetime process and has no age limit.
SourceEducation is received in institutions.Learning is involved everywhere and depends on a person's perspective
ExpenseEducation usually costs moneyLearning can be absolutely free

What is Education?

Education is a planned, psychological, and systematic process that promotes a student's fullest possible development. In addition to this, it guarantees that society evolves to its fullest capability so that everyone in the society can also experience the highest levels of success and happiness in terms of getting a good job, a beautiful house, character development, a great partner, etc. Therefore, we can define education as the "student's advancement in accordance with societal demands and needs".

Education can take many different forms, such as instruction, training, research, or hands-on experience.

Different forms of education exist, including:

  1. Formal education: This is organised learning that occurs in a classroom, commonly in high schools and colleges. It sticks to a set curriculum and is often overseen by teachers with qualifications.
  2. Informal education: Unstructured and taking place outside of a formal classroom setting is informal education. It entails goals like reading, viewing instructional videos, and taking part in neighbourhood events. The best example of this is the online classes that were taken during COVID.
  3. Non-formal education: It is structured and organised but does not follow a formal curriculum. It consists of things like community-based programmes, adult education, and vocational training.
  4. Vocational education: This kind of training equips students for a particular trade or profession. It consists of instruction in trades like carpentry, plumbing, and electrical work. Community colleges provide this kind of education
  5. Distance education: The term "distance education" refers to a type of education that is delivered remotely, frequently via online courses or virtual classrooms. For example, when you learn a subject on platforms such as Coursera and Udemy.
  6. Higher education: This category of education includes post-secondary education at universities and colleges resulting in bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees. Anything after your high school diploma comes under higher education.

What is Learning?

Learning is defined as the "long-term modification of behaviour brought on by practice or experience". In this case, "experience" is the key to learning. An individual can better adapt to their environment with its assistance. Second, learning is observed in a person's actions or behaviours that are not always visible. A person that's sitting idle can also be learning.

There are various forms of learning, such as:

  1. Behavioural learning: The relationship between a trigger and a response is the fundamental basis of behavioural learning. It includes a lot of classical conditioning, which consists of linking a conditioned stimulus with an unconditioned stimulus to extract a response, for it is either rewarded or punished.
  2. Cognitive learning: Cognitive Learning is based on mental functions like perception, memory, and reasoning. It also includes imitation learning, where people pick up skills by observing others and copying their actions.
  3. Constructive learning: This method of learning centres on actively engaging with the environment while creating new knowledge and understanding. It entails creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving.
  4. Experiential learning: Learning through direct experience and reflection is referred to as experiential learning. It includes self-reflection, feedback, and learning from mistakes.
  5. Traditional conditioning: This method of learning entails connecting a stimulus and an action. For instance, a dog may begin to droll at the sound of the bell by itself as it has learned to associate the sound of a bell with food.
  6. Operant conditioning: This method of learning entails linking behaviour to a negative outcome. For instance, a rat learns to pull a lever in a Skinner box to get a treat.
  7. Observational learning: entails emulating the actions of others by observing them. For instance, a child picks up the skill of shoe tying by watching their parent do it and then copying it.

Main Differences Between Education and Learning in Points

Now that a basic idea of both education and learning is established let's take a deeper look into their differences

  • Source of knowledge

The source of knowledge and information is one of the most significant distinctions between education and learning. In education, a teacher or instructor who has expertise in a particular subject frequently imparts knowledge and information. The teacher facilitates learning by leading the students through a predetermined curriculum and giving them feedback on how they are doing. Learning, however, can come from a wide variety of sources, such as firsthand knowledge (knowledge through experience), books, the internet, social interactions and many more. Personal curiosity, interest, and passion for a topic are the driving forces behind learning.

  • Methods of assessment

In education and learning, the methods of assessment and evaluation vary as well. Standardized tests (SATs, L-SATs, etc.), assignments, and exams that are used in education to test students' knowledge and understanding of a particular subject are usually used to evaluate students. The outcomes of these tests are frequently used to assess a student's development and achievement. In contrast, formal assessment or evaluation is not always necessary for learning. Learning is frequently motivated primarily by the satisfaction of knowledge and skill acquisition, though the learning process itself is frequently rewarding in and of itself.

  • Goals and objectives

Education and learning have various purposes and purposes. The main objective of education is often to obtain the knowledge and skills required for a certain profession or career that a student chooses to pursue. Practical knowledge and applications that can be applied in the workplace are frequently emphasised. The objectives of learning, however, are frequently more personal and intrinsic. They might have the desire to learn more about a particular topic, master a new skill, or comprehend themselves and the world more fully.

  • Personal growth

Different effects of learning and education can be seen in terms of personal development. When it comes to personal development, education frequently offers a formalised, structured approach with a focus on achieving specific goals and objectives of the institution. It can offer opportunities for personal growth and development as well as help people in gaining the knowledge and abilities needed for a successful career. On the other hand, learning is a more natural and organic process that can promote holistic personal growth and development. It can aid people in developing a variety of abilities that are not necessarily related to a specific profession.

  • Motivation

The role of motivation in education and learning is another distinction. Motivation in education frequently comes from outside sources like grades, incentives, and recognition. A good grade, praise from peers or teachers, or other forms of recognition can inspire students to learn. Learning, on the other hand, is generally motivated by internal factors like curiosity, interest, and passion. People who are driven to learn frequently have intrinsic motivation and are self-directed in their pursuit of knowledge and skills for their personal growth and development.

  • Social change

Different aspects of learning and education have an impact on social progress. By granting access to knowledge and skills, there can be better jobs and economic opportunities for the people in a society; education has been seen as a means of addressing social incompetencies. But education has also come under fire for maintaining social injustices by reproducing established power structures and the status quo. By encouraging critical thinking, creativity, and innovation, learning has the power to contradict and transform social norms and values. By enabling them to take action on issues that are important to them, learning can also be a means for social change.

  • Authority

Education is often delivered by teachers or instructors who have formal authority and are responsible for guiding the learning process. The teachers are chosen with care to ensure the best possible education. The teachers or mentors also draft a curriculum whose purpose is to ensure that the knowledge is given to the students effectively. Learning, on the other hand, is self-directed or informal as mentioned previously. An individual can learn from his or her experiences daily without the need for a teacher. This is because of the individual's ability to learn, which comes from within.

  • Age limit

Since learning is a lifelong process, there is no upper age limit; for example, someone can learn to cook, sing, or play ludo at the age of 80. Every experience and sight you have each day can teach you something new! However, in the case of education, as previously mentioned in the example, people of various age demographics can register themselves at the academic institution to receive an education.


Finally, despite being two separate ideas, education and learning are frequently used together. Learning is a dynamic process of gaining knowledge through experiences, reflections, and interactions with the environment, whilst education is a structured and formal process of gaining expertise and abilities. Education and learning differences in the framework, the origin of information and knowledge, techniques for assessment and review, objectives and goals, implications for personal growth and development, the involvement of motivation, and effects on social change and progress. Understanding these distinctions can help us realize the importance of education and learning and how they can support each other in our journey toward understanding and personal development.


Cite this article

Use the citation below to add this article to your bibliography:



MLA Style Citation

"Difference Between Education and Learning." Diffzy.com, 2024. Mon. 17 Jun. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-education-and-learning-with-table-1288>.

Edited by

Share this article