Could knowledge be greasy?

Training makes you stupid? Training makes you stupid?

I have just reread an article about Learning Obesity I bookmarked some time ago, and I can’t avoid writing several notes. The Learning Obesity concept is clearly explained at Briefly: In the same way that if you eat more than you need to you will become fat, mental obesity takes part when you learn more than you need to perform work.

Over-teaching occurs when we pile more content on a learner’s plates than they need to perform their job. If a learning activity isn’t immediately relevant and doesn’t directly help a learner perform their job better, the learner will not retain the content and the learning turns to fat, regardless of how good the content is

Soon before that, this article explains that you cannot efficiently recover contents learned a long time ago. Taking that into account, this article proposes several good practices for the enterprise, among them:

“Feed the fewest number of people the least amount of relevant learning snacks, but do so as quickly as possible so the food stays warm“

That’s impeccable. Neither mathematics nor accountancy can trick it.

But people do not need to learn snacks only to use them directly at work. Human curiosity is not renounceable; indeed, learning makes you more human. Is it necessary to qualify each human activity in terms of ROI or Value Creation?


I need what some thinkers consider to be not useful to avoid crossing the slight border between human and zombie in the omnipresent labor market.

I want my fat! 😉

Raúl Antón Cuadrado



Are we Cyborgs?


Time ago – in the industrialized fragment of our planet – human gender became Cyborg by the integration of technological devices as plug & play extensions of our manhood functionalities. Donna Haraway advanced this fact more than 20 years ago.

‘By the late twentieth century, our time, a mythic time, we are all chimeras, theorized and fabricated hybrids of machine and organism; in short, we are cyborgs. This cyborg is our ontology’ (Haraway, Cyborg Manifesto 1991: page. 150)

Not so? Ok: Could you feed and dress yourself without a credit card? Don’t you drive a car when you need to go faster (bus, metro…)? Would you voluntarily decline to use a mobile phone? Those devices are a chunk of our lives, a portion of us and our definition as a postmodern human being is not complete without them. Not yet convinced? What about glasses or contact lenses?

We currently identify a Cyborg as someone who changes his legs to put wheels in place, or who connects a communication device directly to his brain, or… ok! Maybe in a film, but would you accept visiting the surgeon each time you changed your mobile phone? It is much easier to keep it in your pocket, isn’t it?

But this doesn’t mean we aren’t Cyborgs. To be a Cyborg is our ontology.

Raúl Antón Cuadrado


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

Buffer values at
Buffer values at

Buffer is the most amazing, usable and useful social tool. But Buffer has something even better: its inner 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.


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


This discussion was originally proposed in Spanish at comunicacionextendida

4 things 12-year-old kids want in a Web App.

Again, I’m discussing a 12-year-old kids questionnaire at IES Ribera del Duero. So what does this study tell us about children’s Internet participation? What do they appreciate in an application / web page to participate in it?

We gave the interviewed kids the following options to be answered with a value from 1 to 10:

  • The amount of people using it. What’s the attractiveness factor when there are lots of people in a social network?
  • My friends or people I know are registered. The same, but restricted to close people.
  • Freedom of expression. Is it important for them to feel that they can write what they like without restrictions?
  • Interface design, UX… app/site general aspect. The app interface should be ‘a la mode’.
  • Ease of use. Usability issues.
  • “It has a clear functionality”. This could be an odd question, but not so with a little explanation of what it means. Would you use it merely to procrastinate or with a clear use in mind? Or verbalized in a PhD researcher’s way: how much do you ponder how functionally clean an app is?

Well, let’s see how well you do now kids! Do not look at the graphic, and try to find out which axis is more important for them to decide to use an app or to participate in a social network. [tick-tock] Ok. You can watch now!

And now, let’s interpret that. They are not so interested in who is using the tool, whether they feel comfortable using it, whether the functionality is clear and if it is visually attractive.

Those two fields at the end.

As you are very attentive you would right now be wondering about the last two fields used to allow kids to freely add any other factor. Yes, those are expected to remain wide open.

But it is here where you start to feel there is something you didn’t know. Wide open? Not so!

  • One of the kids add ‘insults’ as a factor, labeling that with a ‘1’ value, which could be understood that if he/she sees insults, she/he “changes channel”.
  • Another one liked apps/webpages with resources to download. That’s ok.

And among the others, 7 out of each 10 wrote: ‘privacy’. Wow! And with an average importance valuation of 9.44 over 10 too. Who expected that? Mmm. Hurray. Hurray for these kids that surprise us each time we devote a bit of our time to trying to understand them!

Facebook? What’s Facebook?

It may be the most populated social network, but that doesn’t seem to be the case among these kids. In addition to WhatsApp (almost 80%), the following most used networks are Instagram and YouTube. Only one of the answers declares that he/she is using Facebook!

That’s true? :O

And now, what could I do to watch – I would call that spying on – what my son/daughter is doing on the Internet? (Real question) A-ha! This seems to be one of the main reasons for kids emigrating to other networks: their parents are on Facebook.

A humility treatment.

And what about the last question: What do you like the most and the least about the talk? (Because this questionnaire was at the end of a talk). I will cover that in another post, but I will leave a little bit of fresh flesh for the sharks here:

  • For those 5 minutes you were talking, I was a little bit bored.

Wow. Of course! Kids need to participate, not just listen.

Raúl Antón Cuadrado


The Internet or a crayon box are not creative. A 12-year-old kid IS creative

Questionnaire (Spanish)Last winter, I took part in media literacy actions to encourage creative participation on the Internet. One of these sessions was in IES Ribera del Duero, where I left something my friend Tomas gave me just a few days before. It was an answered questionnaires stack about what pre-adolescents (12 years old) think is important when they are going to participate in a webpage or cellphone app. To understand the results, remember to take into account that they were even free to anonymously choose which part of the questionnaire to answer or not.

Kids use the Internet. A lot.

2/3 kids concede that they use the Internet for more than an hour a day, and more than 40% use it for over two hours a day. Not bad! This has huge educational potential… that can be used or neglected. Formal education? I’m not sure. But is there anyone who could think that two attentively dedicated hours a day for a 12-year-old kid could be neglected? I assume we all understand that the key resource here is not time, but attention.
So, formal education is looking elsewhere while kids are using the Internet, instead of integrating it into the knowledge-building process. Does forbidding it in educational centers seems a magnificent idea to anyone?

What is the future like?

86% of kids in this study stated that they took part in creative activities, but only 15% of these were Internet-based. Oh yes! I am hearing a seneschal chorus over-pondering the gregariousness component of Internet usage and asking to eradicate the Internet from educational centers except in well-controlled, formal activities. With these questionnaire answers, and tons of other studies, it is clear that the Internet does not stimulate creativity.
Well, this is not so! Seneschals forbid what they cannot understand and/or not allow them to control the access to information fragments they authorize (Bourdieu dixit).

The Internet or a crayon box are not creative. A 12-year-old kid IS creative (until the educational system finishes the inexorable homogenization process). And if they are not capable of implementing their creativity over the most powerful tool at their disposal, it should be because they don’t know how to use it, the tool needs to be adapted or they have access restrictions. Three options, in any case, that are not compatible with Internet usage interdiction.

If the Internet does not remedy that, we will have been cloned by educational system crowds. Yes, that’s mainly the same as ever. But for the first time ever we have the opportunity to evade that. Do we really want to? If so, instead of forbidding Internet in educational centers, we need to understand how to instigate a kid’s participation in the new arena.

And then, we need to do it.

Raúl Antón Cuadrado