Becoming aware of the existence of different perceptions

One of the ideas proposed, or at least reportedly proposed, in Shekerjian (1990) is that the act of becoming aware that other people hold different perceptions of some task helps you think about your own strategy. I like this idea and tend to believe that being aware of diversity of opinion can help.

My question then is why does the implementation of most Learning Management Systems in universities preclude the ability to become aware of a diversity of perceptions? Access to most course websites is generally limited to the staff and students associated with the specific course. The very design of most of the tools and services within LMS are designed so that they make no mention of how the service is being used by other folk.

Actually, why is probably a combination of factors. It’s easier to program this way. Complete transparency between courses would worry some folk and could potentially create problems. Not to mention that being away of different perceptions and being able to accept them is not always that easy.

I do think, however, that modifying the design and implementation of LMS is one interesting avenue into interventions that can help modify the teaching environment into one that enables and encourages improvement.

The Moodle 2.0 Community Hub approach is one concrete example of this happening already. However, I think there are at least two limitations of this approach. First, it appears to be at the course level. I think this might end up being too coarse grain and not as useful as some form of transparency below the course level. Second, I think it will be interesting how many universities configure the installations of Moodle to participate in the community hub approach. Not to mention the reasons why they make this decision and how such a decision is implemented in terms of academic buy-in, support etc.

A lack of awareness of the different perceptions of teaching and associated processes is one of the limitations I think may be holding back improvements in university teaching. Especially different perceptions that are represented as concrete strategies currently being implemented within a specific institutional context. It’s this concreteness and its specific connection to the institutional context which makes it more like to have impact than more abstract approaches such as learning designs and staff development presentations from outside experts or “good” teachers.

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