MASTERCLASS: A PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVE THAT EXTENDS LEARNING BEYOND THE CLASSROOM

By Innocentia Alexander, Academic at MANCOSA

Maintaining current knowledge in your field of study helps you stand out in the job market.

One way to encourage professional development is by organizing masterclasses for staff and students of a higher education organization.

A masterclass is a platform for short discussion on a particular topic, with the aim of introducing a new concept for development. In the context of this piece, masterclasses enhance student learning by providing them with current topics for discussion as they emerge in the various fields of study. These masterclasses, for example, are designed to provide an opportunity for important developments needed as a 21st century teacher in teacher education institutions.

Lecturers may recognize important developments in a field of study and invite industry professionals to present essential knowledge gained through years of experience that goes beyond the classroom content.

During these masterclasses, students interact with lecturers and invited industry professionals. Masterclasses essentially serve as platforms for professionals to share their experiences, skills, and everyday knowledge in order to inspire students.

Positive interactions with a range of lecturers, according to research, help students acquire new concepts in a number of ways, giving them a perspective on learning that goes beyond what a single lecturer can offer.

It is, therefore, critical for educational institutions to provide professional development opportunities, not only for students, but also for lecturers, students, stakeholders, policy representatives and curriculum developers through masterclasses.

For example, MANCOSA’s school of education hosts masterclasses that are attended by students, lecturers, educators, and other stakeholders.

Some of the topics covered are: “Leading change in an age of digital transformation” and “Imagining decolonized and Afrocentric education in the times of industrial revolutions”. These topics are current discussions happening in the education field and provide opportunities for debates and solution-based discussions.

While masterclasses provide the advantage of improving knowledge through interaction with industry professionals in a field of study, they also contribute to professional development as a requirement by some professional bodies.

For example, in the field of education, the South African Council for Educators (SACE) ensures that teachers continue to grow as professionals. SACE’s current method tracks teacher progress using a points system. Attending a masterclass counts toward these points, and certificates of attendance are offered by some institutions, such as MANCOSA.

Moreover, having a certificate after attending a masterclass can be used when applying for jobs or promotions within an organization. They demonstrate to employers that you are committed to professional growth, as the knowledge, skills, and values learned from a masterclass improve your ability to contribute to their organization.

It is, therefore, important for every staff, student and other relevant stakeholders to attend masterclasses. These do not only introduce them to new trends in this digital era but will also expose them to topics that will mount in them, critical spirits for their professional developments in their fields of study. 

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