The JTBD approach is about finding out what people really need for them to achieve things that matter in their lives: the jobs that they want to get done. For learning designers these ‘people’ are the learners that they design for. That sounds logical and simple. But let’s do the ‘Levitt challenge’.
Based on the Levitt quote, complete the sentence ‘Learners don’t need learning programs, they need…’. Or even better, take a closer look at what Levitt says to understand that he is talking about ‘people’, not about ‘drill operators’. So, the first suggestion would be to stop thinking of learners: think of people or when workplace-oriented, think of professionals and the jobs they want to get done.
Now you might say that you always think of the people you design for because you’re not just a learning designer, you’re a learning experience designer! You know that you have to apply empathy, that you have to put yourself in the shoes of the people you’re designing for. You even have tools and approaches to do so. You use empathy maps to plot what your audience (the people that you are designing for) are saying, thinking, seeing and feeling in relation to the topic that you design for. You even collate their characteristics in a ‘persona’: an oddly-named virtual person (‘Dan Drillmeister’) that represents all the typicalities of your target audience. Consider age, education level, job level, digital fluency, preferred outfit, family circumstances, hobbies, whatever.