What is a "user" vs. a "person using my DB"?


I’ve been reading over the various info on accounts and memberships, and everything else I can find, but I can’t find anything that really distinguishes a “user” vs. “someone I want to interact with my data”.

I’m in a class with 80+ people scattered around the globe (mostly USA) and we need to travel to one or two cities a couple of times. We just got back from one of our weekend classes and someone posted a suggestion that we maintain a list of travel arrangements each of us has made, and what options are available. People want to have some insight into sharing resources, like shuttle/Uber/Lyft to and from the airport, room-sharing, if the hotels are booked up, what the rates are for airfares, rooms, and cars, etc.

I’d be the person building and maintaining this database, but I want to have forms that other students can use to enter and edit their arrangements and other info, as well as view what others have entered. They’re just “users” in the common sense of the term, not people who are going to be working on the database or forms or anything else.

But, this database is NOT for public consumption! It should only be accessible by and for the members of our class. (Hey, I don’t mind sharing the design, but the data is personal and not to be shared publicly.)

Where can I find an explanation of this distinction between what Airtable calls a “user” and what average people regard as “users”?

If Airtable expects everybody in our class to pay $120/yr to simply enter and access their own data, and keep it private, it ain’t gonna happen. Google Sheets is free, although the thought of using it for this purpose makes me gag.