Katherine Donnelly writes in yesterday's Irish Independent in an article entitled "DCU invites employers in to lecture its students" about an interesting idea to get employers to "to deliver master classes to undergraduates about the realities of the fast-changing workplace". Donnelly goes on to write that this initiative by DCU is "aimed at ensuring that third- and fourth-year students on technology-focused degree programmes are up to date with current thinking and equipped for what lies ahead". Sounds like a good idea?
Leaving aside scheduling issues and payments, this on the surface looks like a great initiative. However - it implies that existing lecturers are not "up to date with current thinking and equipped for what lies ahead", so it is likely to be less popular with lecturers - though none of us would have a problem with someone else taking over a class from time-to-time! I think the biggest problem is getting busy employers to commit - they will have to ensure that someone is available to give the "master classes" at the scheduled time. Not impossible, but a commitment none-the-less. While there are no details in Donnelly's article about whether the "master classes" would be embedded in modules or given as separate lectures - I feel that separate "Guest Lecture" style events outside of class time would be best. This allows for a more informal setting devoid of learning outcomes and QQI standards - Q&A afterwards would also be very useful. No doubt DCU will have thought this through thoroughly and I applaud their innovation.
Preparing "master classes" (or any class for that matter) takes a considerable amount of time, so employers should not underestimate the resources and time required. Were other colleges to follow DCU's lead there could be a huge demand for such classes that might not sit well with employers unless they commit to having dedicated Academic Program Managers (such as Microsoft do).
I hope this works!