#BufferCulture2Learning: A toolbox to enforce horizontal emancipatory learning communities’ culture.

Los valores de Buffer, de https://open.bufferapp.com/buffer-values/
Los valores de Buffer, de https://open.bufferapp.com/buffer-values/
Los valores de Buffer, de https://open.bufferapp.com/buffer-values/

Buffer is an amazing social tool. But Buffer has something even better: the buffer  culture. Buffer teams are postfordist and distributed (dispersed, to be more precise) and they are determined to act in a canonically transparent incomparable way. Sound awesome? It is. They have assessed the Buffer culture in 10 values to rule this globally-spread team with a common goal.

Globally-spread team with a common objective?

That’s a learning community exactly like those we build in UNED Education on the Internet MsC program! So, we found ourselves trying to project Buffer Culture to our learning environment. This is #BufferCulture2Learning: a thought-provoking discussion leading us to a set of guidelines to be applied to horizontal autopoietic communities with the goal of enhancing significant learnings.
Here are the conclusions for the moment.

Imagine there is no need to educate. Let’s talk about learning.

[Be a no-ego doer]

I support education should be called Learning (@rantoncuadrado)Students aren´t objects, containers to be filled with preselected knowledge. And they don’t need to be educated either. Each student is the subject of his/her own learning process; therefore, they should decide their itinerary and conclusions as the real stakeholder of the learning process.
And take note: they are the only reason we teachers are needed.

Is it possible to be negative when being a teacher?

[Choose positivity.]

I support education should be called learning
I support education should be called learning

How can we be negative while we are devoted to one of the most beautiful possible activities? We encourage thinking!

Sometimes when we criticize lack of attitude or lack of engagement with the learning community, one of these students kicks us with extraordinary results that means they could find the motivation that we didn’t know how to give them somewhere else. OMG!

So, let’s choose not to complain. Let’s choose to understand that we are privileged people because of our job. And if there are disengaged people, let’s ask them if there is something that could be done by us to inspire them to participate or to overcome problems.

Inspiring inspired people is cool. But inspiring disengaged people is an awesome challenge!

Horizontality. Teachers have the right and the duty of not always being right.
Horizontality. Teachers have the right and the duty of learning from the community.

[Be a no-ego doer | Focus on self-improvement | Show gratitude | Communicate with clarity | Do the right thing]

We believe in the principle of horizontal learning communities: anyone learn from/with anyone. Therefore, we should look at the learning community members participations not to evaluate them, but to learn from them. Students are able to give us new perspectives, point out new learning paths, and propose new experiences from which we can build debate. And when that happens, do not forget to thank them. 🙂

In digital learning there is no podium for the teacher nor an audience sat looking at them. Let’s not try to artificially create this! I remember chats in which teachers wrote in capital letters. That was a mistake: if we are saying things not enough interesting to attract attention without those tricks, it could be a good idea to stop writing and listen to our community mates, the students.

Teachers’ thoughts are not necessarily the expression of an undeniable absolute truth. Let’s express them by starting with ‘In my opinion…’, ‘Another interesting perspective could be…’? Let’s cast off the atrocious duty to be always right! And when a student makes us to realize we are wrong, let’s be grateful because this is the learning seed.

Let’s realize when we are tempted to use complex language just to show our wisdom, and know we are being seduced by the dark side. Let’s express things clearly, even redundantly at times.

Transparence related to grades.

cc-by flickr-com/photos/58021164@N00/362914213
cc-by flickr-com/photos/58021164@N00/362914213

Buffer’s transparence could be risky because it doesn’t lay on margins but goes to the core; from communication processes and employee salaries to the destination of the money they get for the service.

In formal education, you can feel a core issue presence from the very first minute: grades. Anyone knows at the end of the process that they will receive a reality shot: a quantitative grade, forced by the educational system. But being this grade mandatory, there are alternatives to avoid the anguish caused by the ‘calculation procedure’ opacity. Each learning community participant must know the procedure and weight of each factor used to calculate grades. But it’s not enough. The community should negotiate those factors and weights. Again though, it’s not enough. Grades should be assigned by the community via self-evaluation and peer reviews or, at the least, there should be a document in which every single info item having to do with grades calculation is registered online, perhaps belonging to the teacher, but publicly available to read and to discuss.

Listen engagement.

[Listen first, then listen more]

Teachers acting as network animators have a 24/7 duty: they should participate to request participation. There is no need to be always commenting on or correcting other member’s contributions. But students should know that their animator is there, enjoying the process at the same level as them.

Learning makes you feel fulfilled.

[Live smarter, not harder | Make time to reflect]

Lots of us were forced to learn. For instance, in school I learned by heart dozens of poems of unknown meaning.

But significant learning is an intelligent reflecting mechanism that cannot be forced. Significant learning requires dedicated minds and effort, and it has limits. If we try to force learnings over these limits we will only get critic memorization. If we propose marathon-length classes we will only get tired brains.

We don’t need to meet a learning quantity quote, but rather need to get significant learnings to emancipate people and make them happier. Who dare say there is anything more important?

PS: As a result of #BufferCulture2Learning debate, we (V. Levratto and me) engaged with “Media Literacy Pedagogy” learning community (Mars-June 2015) to respect the above guidelines, including self-evaluation and peer review to decide grades without teachers’ participation. Students were glad about and even they create an intense debate and actions supporting it. But, at the end, more than a half of the students refused to self-evaluate themselves except in elusive qualitative terms and to make peer-reviews. What’s was wrong?

Raúl Antón Cuadrado

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