Real World 101: How to infuse your class and inspire your students with practitioner insights and wisdom?


If you are a professor teaching an undergraduate, graduate, or executive course within a university or college, who are your primary stakeholders?

I would hope all of you would answer that question as follows: your students and companies that hire or employ your students.

Some of you may say that your primary stakeholders include the research community in your area of expertise, the faculty in your department and university, the community in which your school exists, and the parents/underwriters of your students.

All of that is true, of course.

But, I hope that all of us can agree without splitting hairs that the right answer for teachers is the first one.

Your primary stakeholders as a teacher – the ones that you absolutely have to cater to – are students and companies.

And what do these two primary stakeholders want? What is the recurring refrain that you might hear from both these constituencies when you ask them their druthers?

They want profession-ready graduates.

Companies want that so that their new hires can be productive contributors from day one, and their existing employees can enhance their value to their firms.

Students want that so that they can get good jobs and keep good jobs, plain and simple.

So, if your two most important stakeholders both want the same thing, how do you deliver that to them? How do you enable the development of profession-ready graduates in the classes that you teach?

You can do that in 4 ways. The first two require you to be a good teacher, and the other two require you to be a good collaborator.

You could disagree with me, and probably will, but I believe that due the focus on independent study and academic research, both these skills – teaching and collaborating – are not taught in many doctoral programs today as well as they should be.

Which means that none of these 4 approaches necessarily play to learned techniques as much as they do to inherent strengths.

So, how successful you are at them is going to be a bit of a crapshoot. Which is a bit of a problem, if you are student or a company looking to hire that student.

Here are the 4 ways to enable the development of profession-ready graduates.

As a teacher, you can do it by…..

….constructing a curriculum design for your course that includes a blend of state-of-the-art concepts and case-studies that are encountered in the real world. That ensures that a combination of relevant theory and prevalent application is imparted to the students.

….crafting an instructional design that creates an immersive learning environment through introspection, inquiry, interaction, and involvement. That ensures that learning happens through discovery, deduction, discussion, and doing, rather than just discourse.

As a collaborator, you can do it by….

….working with your corporate network to carve out some portion of the course into a real, live project within a particular industry sector and for a particular company. Kind of like a less glamorous and internecine version of Celebrity Apprentice. That allows students to experience how the world outside the classroom works, and how the concepts they learn in the classroom can be applied there.

….partnering with industry professionals and inviting them to conduct specific sessions of your course as guest lecturers. This allows students to participate in a more practitioner-led classroom session in which the concepts shared are rooted in practice.

To be sure, there are other ways to help this cause, including work-study internships during the school year, summer internships after the school year, case competitions sponsored by companies, you name it.

But as a teacher, you have lesser influence on those approaches, and more on the four outlined above.

So, how do you pull off this kind of curriculum design, instructional design, project design, and session design?

You need partners in crime from across the aisle. You need practitioners who can work with you.

How do you find the Capulets to your Montague who are willing to partner with you?

You could tap your existing network within corporate and see if you hit pay dirt. Problem is that your network may not necessarily be in the space that your course is in.

You could go trolling the online professional networks to see if you can find the right partners from industry. Good luck on that one. Will have to kiss a lot of frogs before finding your princes and princesses.

Or you could go to QuantumFly.

It is the world’s first ever engagement network, with 8 different types of knowledge sourcing engagements, offered by professionals for professionals.

QuantumFly doesn’t do pokes, pins, and pics. It doesn’t send reminders of anniversaries and birthdays. It doesn’t curate news articles about your connections.

Instead, it helps you DO stuff. Like leveraging your social network connectivity to post and find engagements in your area of expertise globally. Like getting and displaying feedback on the work performed in these engagements. Like building an economically rational network of customers and providers of knowledge in all its different forms, across academia and industry.

It will soon be the largest knowledge sourcing portal on the planet.

You should check it out

You can thank us later.

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