Bachelor of Arts Graduates Gain Skills for the Post COVID-19 Workplace
Today (11 June), Mary Immaculate College (MIC) launched a Professional Learning Hub in Entrepreneurial Education, which aims to explore the connections between the liberal arts and entrepreneurship through dialogue, communication, information and knowledge exchange.
In the current climate of economic uncertainty, it is more important than ever to provide students and staff with the building blocks of innovation, leadership and the entrepreneurial mind-set in order to develop informed, active, proactive and responsible citizens.
In response to the needs of 21st century learners, this ambitious new initiative aims to transform the learning experience of students enrolled on the Bachelor of Arts programme at MIC, as well as the academic staff who teach on this wide-ranging undergraduate degree programme. Commenting on the launch of the new learning hub, Professor Niamh Hourigan, Vice-President of Academic Affairs at MIC, said, “It is hoped that by developing a culture of entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, graduates of the programme will gain lifelong transferrable skills that will not only make them highly employable individuals, but also prepare them for challenges across all life-situations and career paths.”
Spearheaded by Dr Maeve Liston, senior lecturer in STEM Education and Director of Enterprise and Community Engagement at MIC, the learning hub is the culmination of a year’s work whereby a suite of professional development opportunities in innovation and entrepreneurship for the liberal arts was designed and delivered to staff and students at the College. Through extensive research, a bespoke programme of professional development and online resources has now been developed that respond to the needs of employers who are seeking flexible and adaptable graduates with key transferrable skills, such as metacognition, synthesis and critical reflection, creativity and innovation.
Speaking at the launch of the Professional Learning Hub in Entrepreneurial Education, Dr Liston said, “The development of entrepreneurial thinking can ensure that individuals are adaptable and capable of dealing with the challenges of the dynamic environment of our global economy and society. Having an entrepreneurial mindset is beneficial to all, allowing those who develop it to be more creative, innovative and self-confident in whatever they undertake. In the post COVID-19 workplace, the skills gained through entrepreneurial education will be more important than ever before.”
She added, “Staff and student voices were key to the success of this project. In exploring the connections between the liberal arts and entrepreneurial education, our staff, students and experts in the field engaged in information and knowledge exchange opportunities. We explored many interesting topics together such as: Why Become an Entrepreneurial Educator; Ideas for Developing the Entrepreneurial Self and an Entrepreneurial Culture in Higher Education and; Design Thinking, to name but a few. The feedback from staff that engaged with the professional development sessions has been very positive and the project has had an immediate impact on the design and development of their modules, which involved incorporating key 21st century skills such as independence, resilience, self-belief, taking initiative, creativity, innovation and critical thinking skills into their teaching.”
The Professional Learning Hub in Entrepreneurial Education was launched online today by Dr Colette Henry, Head of the Department of Business Studies at Dundalk Institute of Technology and Professor Trevor Vaugh from the Department of Design Innovation at Maynooth University. Speaking at the launch, Dr Colette Henry said, “Entrepreneurship Education has grown in popularity in recent years. However, the current COVID-19 crisis has elevated it even further, as pressure is put on all individuals to utilise their entrepreneurial skills to help find innovative solutions to unique problems. Entrepreneurship educators must now take on the role of 'content aggregator' to ensure what they deliver accounts for the current context and facilitates individual student interests, experiences, motivations and learning styles.”
Dr Emma O’Brien, Academic Developer in Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) at MIC noted, “The learning hub provides a forum to allow staff to engage in open educational practice regarding entrepreneurial pedagogies, providing opportunities to collaboratively reflect on how to enhance student learning to allow them to be resilient in the current fluid society we are in.”
The entrepreneurial education project is funded by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. The content of the Professional Learning Hub in Entrepreneurial Education will be made available for all as open educational resources (OER) on the National Forum website in the coming days. MIC staff can access the content via Moodle.