Human Organizing

To make complex situations understandable, we try as humans, to put processes, knowledge, systems into visuals, models, frameworks, matrices etc… At best, these models are simplifications of reality and a stepping stone to a deeper understanding of the whole. But sometimes they are just too simple and too one-sided and they go awry. Yet they remain common good. one of these widely used models is this of an organization system.

Relating by transactional systems

We start with the organization and keep looking from its viewpoint and forget the viewpoint of other participants and affected. The organization offers personalized learning paths but in a kind of standard way. We push this “menu” towards the learners. The learner and his/ her learning environments are “conditioned” to facilitate the core.

Transactional relating or conditioning is widely used on learning platforms. We use conditioning through gaming (conditioning of the environment). Or they can earn badges, an example of a frequently used form of conditioning of the person. When we use conditioning to engage learners, we use a push strategy. Too much enabling makes the learner less active, in worse cases inactive and he/she risks being disengaged.

Does conditioning enable engagement? Of course, conditioning is responsible for 61% of engagement. We create a certain value but what is the perceived value? Important to understand is that it is a push strategy. We are missing the learners’ experiences! they ask themself: “what is in for me?

What happens in reality? Trans – acting by relational systems or organism

The visual above is more realistic. There is no clear division between organization and environment.

The learner is very involved at times and sometimes much less or not at all. This creates a distance between the learner and the rest of the group. Massification occurs, which causes alienation. The size of the learner is his/ her level of involvement.

For Eg During an online workshop, you can be distracted by something, someone… That evening when you are in bed looking for sleep, you reflect. Which insights do you have? You can’t share it with others? Which information do you miss?

Because there is a relationship between the individual – the rest and the collective – the masses, massification occurs, which causes alienation. This always takes place in groups it is impossible to have a 1 on 1 relationship with everyone all the time.

In the visualization, you observe that the learner is outside & inside the organism. The learner gets more than a personalized menu.  The personalized learning paths have different flavors and are made by the collective, through commitments. This creates the real experienced value.

So what do people do?

Let’s take a look at the above visual. On the right side, we see professional organizing. As people we try to make everything organized, we make structures, protocols. All the emphasis is on transactional relating within/ inside the system: conditioning.

But don’t forget, too much organization will lead to less qualitative connections.

On the other side, we see the human organization, in other words time unstructured or chaos. For example, in learning communities everything is aligned with the goal. Communities strive for equality. To manage a community there are rules, a goal, … and of course we see “the likes” ( conditioning!). Through alignment and the focus on equality, you feed the alienation between people. Chaos reigns. The result: there are fewer outcomes, actions…

Contrary if you focus on equivalence and action, you will get outcomes. To do that we need to find a balance between structure and chaos. Through building structure in the unstructured, we can evolve to a human organizing system. The best of both…


This is the first blog to explain more about relating and its function within a learning environment. If you are already eager to know more, and I’m sure this blog will help you to have more insights, you can read this article. Great thank to my 2 partners in crime; Jef Teugels and Olaf Hermans.

Verschroeven, E. & Teugels, J. (2021). Bringing Out the Best In People/in Me (BOBI-P/-M). In T. Bastiaens (Ed.), Proceedings of EdMedia + Innovate Learning (pp. 566-571). United States: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Retrieved July 16, 2021

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