Education is being forced to evolve, just as retailers have had to evolve to meet the demands of shopping on physical and digital channels. Today’s students need new learning methods that are more media-based than traditional education, both in terms of content structure and delivery. Academic institutions can hardly meet demand without relying on external partnerships with educational technology companies.
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The current university model relies heavily on first-hand experience on campus. This is not only a method that has been “done” for over a century, but also provides institutions with numerous profit centers from cafeterias, dorms, sporting events and more. When the Covid-19 pandemic occurred, the university was unable to take students to campus. This meant that they could no longer benefit from these sources of funding and, in fact, took responsibility in the form of empty classrooms and dormitories. It’s no wonder that the top priority of these institutions was to get students back in person. These preparations began in earnest in the spring of 2020 when the transition to online learning was facilitated. By the fall of 2021, most universities were reopened despite the Delta variant.
In all of this, the development of the university over the last 50 years has focused primarily on the construction of new buildings and the expansion of the campus footprint, while the rest of the world has become more digital. The university has given little consideration (and budget) to the development of new digital learning technologies, modality, and support systems, including the purchase of video equipment, recording studios, and even digital pedagogy.
This situation is similar to the retail industry, which left online retail as a secondary or ancillary to this core business until the beginning of the 21st century, with little focus on expanding the store network. This eventually led to what is known as the “retail apocalypse”, where brands are over-stored online and lack leverage. Pandemics have accelerated the apocalypse of many brands and ultimately shifted their business to a complete omni-channel business model. Onsite shopping is currently focused on providing a unique or boutique experience, while online is focused on ease of use, access, and reach.
This change is currently happening in higher education. Many universities are forced to rethink their offerings on both physical and digital channels and understand how they work together and work individually. The onsite experience needs to be more customized one-on-one, while the online experience is all about ease of use, access, and even cost savings. Students can choose between them, but if what happens in the retail industry also applies to higher education, they will want to be able to move fluidly from one modality to another. Ultimately, they want more control over their education.
There are some schools that are leading omni-channel learning, despite their heavy reliance on what is called “edtech” or an education-focused technology company. The focus of these partnerships was not on innovation in the educational content itself, but primarily on the provision of education (in this case, incorporating traditional learning and moving online). Companies like Coursera usually partner with universities like Stanford and FIT to create content with teachers at those schools. Companies like Canvas and Blackboard are focused on shifting content online. In short, it provides a tool that makes it easy for anyone to post content and lead a class. However, in the age of YouTube and TikTok, moving traditional content online is not enough. This is just as meaningless as uploading a physical store to the web. Content needs to be edited short, and the production value of music, images, B-rolls, etc. needs to be high.
Companies such as Yellow Brick, MasterClass, Business of Fashion and Fashion Launchpad are beginning to change this dynamic in the areas of fashion and arts education. In short, if higher education wants to compete in the short term or exist in the long term, it needs to completely rethink its strategy to be completely omni-channel (learning fully coordinated with the students at the heart of the model). there is.
The final episode below summarizes the challenges facing fashion education today and how fashion education must be changed to meet the needs of a rapidly changing industry.
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