What's a masterclass?


Lyn Lavery I’ve been pondering the meaning of the term ‘masterclass’. I began thinking about this last November when I caught up with some of my fellow NVivo trainers in Melbourne. One of them had enrolled in a survey masterclass and was rather annoyed to find that it was introductory level. At the time I had just scheduled some masterclasses for our own training programme, so I was left wondering whether I had appropriately described these!

Fast forward six months and I found myself enrolling in a masterclass at my local yoga studio. Sitting in the studio that morning, a moment of horror dawned – what on earth was I doing in a masterclass? I’d only been practising yoga for a year – remembering the names of the poses was hard enough, never mind the correct placement of my feet (the fact that I’m terribly clumsy and hopeless at remembering left from right doesn’t help either, but that’s a story for another blog post!).

Once I got past the fact that I was completely out my depth, I got an enormous amount out of that particular class. I not only learned lots from the teacher, but also from the more advanced students attending. There were some really interesting discussions (which I could mostly understand thanks to having been taught the basics well), there were a lot of laughs, and most importantly I left feeling inspired about what was possible with my yoga practice.

A quick check on Google for the term masterclass reveals various definitions, all of which focus on the class being taught by an expert. I particularly liked a definition that suggested a masterclass is taught by someone who is “charismatic”, but that’s probably because I’m teaching our sessions! In terms of who attends a masterclass, some definitions state that the attendees would be “exceptional” or “good students”, while others suggest that masterclasses are suitable for beginners through to experts.

So having thought at length about this, I’ve decided that a masterclass is a one-off, special event, taught by someone who is expert in the subject matter, and hopefully charismatic! Attendees may include anyone with a genuine interest in the subject, regardless of their level of experience, but ideally they'll know the basics.

So – if you like the sound of our two upcoming masterclasses on Qualitative Data Analysis and NVivo – but are worried you’re not “expert” enough, then you might like to rethink this! For the Qualitative Data Analysis Masterclass, all you need to know is a little about the process of coding, and ideally you’ll have had a go at analysing some qualitative data yourself. The NVivo Masterclass requires that you know how to set up a project and perform coding, and you’ll also need a basic understanding of classifications and queries. My hope is that like my own recent experience at a masterclass, you’ll learn lots, we’ll have some laughs and interesting discussions, and most importantly you’ll leave feeling inspired for your next qualitative project. Can’t wait to see you there!