Challenging enterprises and subcultures: Interrogating ‘best practice’ in Central Queensland University’s course management systems

Challenging enterprises and subcultures: Interrogating ‘best practice’ in Central Queensland University’s course management systems

The notion of ‘best practice’ when applied to university teaching and learning confronts a difficult challenge: to raise the minimum educational standard in society without diluting the diversity constituting any university. This challenge is particularly evident at Central Queensland University (CQU), whose diversity of student demographics and characteristics, teaching modes and organisational structures exerts pressure on its perceived institutional unity and identity.

This challenge of best practice is exacerbated when applied to the examination of course management systems (CMSs), which are commercial software packages that provide Web-based tools, services and resources to support the teaching and learning process for both online and blended delivery. The implementation of these systems at CQU has highlighted fault lines in the worldviews and priorities of different groups and individuals in the institution. It is the intersection of these enterprise systems—or “packages of computer applications that support many, even most, aspects of a company’s information needs” (McConachie, 2001, p. 194)—and subcultures and the impact of that intersection on understanding best practice in CQU’s teaching and learning activities with which this paper is concerned.

This intersection between enterprise systems and subcultures is illustrated by an analysis of the results of an online survey questionnaire completed between August and October 2003 by 91 respondents, representing academic and general staff members, managers and students from eight campuses and seven faculties/divisions.

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