sábado, 29 de septiembre de 2012

Why do we talk about diversity?

This fall I am taking the course Diversity for a Global Society with Dr. Karen DePauw. I decided to enroll in the course because as an online teacher and instructional designer for elearning, I can see how diverse the population in the courses are becoming.

Through online learning, people from many different places and cultural backgrounds are taking the courses they are interested in. They bring their expertise with them, along with their particular way of seeing things because of the way they were raised and the mental models they have built through observation and interactions in the groups they participate (social learning theory).

As it has been said, the web is making the world so much smaller. We now have many open and common spaces which bring plenty of opportunities to meet different people from different backgrounds and still share common goals. Online social networks, open courses, and even listservs do this.

Learning can be seen as a way of understanding other people's frameworks. But to be able to learn from diversity we need to give it high value. We need to learn to respect others ways of being and thinking by understanding their frameworks. We need to communicate effectively and listen carefully to understand deeply. We need to give ourselves time to allow for extended interactions to comprehend. In that sharing and understanding, meaning is negotiated and agreements start to arise. Human beings are diverse, but even among that diversity we still have values in common that we can use to build fruitful relations and create even bigger common frameworks.

Furthermore, we need to talk about diversity to be more aware of it. We sometimes take for granted that everyone thinks the same way as we do, and what is more dangerous, that everyone should think the same way that we do. Bringing diversity to the conversation can allow us to recognize that everyone has his or her own lense to see and make meaning of things. Each one of us has his or her own framework to refer to when making decisions, and it is such variety of perspectives that builds richness into a society and supports freedom. 

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