It is imperative to develop vocational fashion media curricula that provide students with the skills necessary to succeed in the rapidly developing fashion technology industries.
Acquiring 21st-century skills demands the integration of fashion technologies into the modern fashion media curriculum.
With the advent of modern technology and the changing nature of the workforce, the South African educational system has begun to adjust itself to the realities and expectations of the future.
Challenges are to identify the types of technology, including software programs, hardware devices and internet interfaces, that the fashion industry will need to determine and facilitate the skill levels necessary to be competitive.
This article considers the relationship between Fashion Media Studies (FMS) and the digitally transformed Fashion Media industry. Recent theoretical developments revealed there are growing appeals for higher education to address pedagogical change in context of 4IR, the eminent 5IR and emerging 5G technologies (Gleason, 2018; Griffin, 2022; Haywood, 2018; Marr, 2018; Bryant, 2018). The response from higher education to modern technologies will bring a profound change. Substantial changes to the method of delivering vocational education (VE) curricula will be required to allow students to develop the ability to function and excel in the 4IR and 5IR in rapidly emerging industries of technology. It is of interest to investigate multisided digital platforms, and how these may affect future-ready curriculums for the digitally transformed fashion media industry.
Cultivating Technological Skills Used In A Rapid Evolving Fashion Media Industry
There is a need for continued investigation into digital transformation of both VE (teaching methods, pedagogy, platforms, digital platforms, modern IT, XR) and current technologies used in the fashion industry (to identify what new technology, new digital business models and what fashion media students must learn to be able to adapt).
Kalbaska & Cantoni (2019) assert that eminent growth and advances in the fashion industry necessitate the need for designing curriculums aiming to cultivate students’ skills using a wide range of digital platforms to expand their effectiveness and responsiveness to dynamic market needs. Students are facing prospects of “finding employment at the end of their studies in industries or job roles that do not yet exist” (Lizamore, 2017:18). It is argued that “education and training in the 4IR-shaped future should aim to develop in learners high-level, high value-adding skills” when entering the market (Gleason, 2018:36). Adelabu (2020) reiterates that implementing modern fashion technologies within the higher educational institutions will rear a new culture of work systems resulting in a positive socio-economic effect.
The Integration Of Multi-Level Partnerships In The African Educational System
The South African educational system has begun to intentionally adjust itself to the realities and expectations of the future world of work. Most recent research conducted by Adelabu (2020), shows that the South African government has initiated multi-level partnerships to integrate the 4IR into the educational system in order to develop students' skill sets. These include the Presidential Commission on 4IR, the Agenda for the 4IR in South Africa (4IRSA Partnership) and the Ministerial Task Team on the 4IR in Post-school Education and Training. More globally, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Education Strategy Action Plan sanctions multidimensional cross-border relationships and collaboration between higher educational institutions in the regions. The idea is to enable universities to develop the skills required to produce graduates who can pilot the 4IR (Gleason, 2018:54). Penphrase (2018) postulates that any modern curriculum should equally consider how the human condition, new technologies and shifting economic power affect individuals of all financial levels, and the dangers that exist inside a world that is increasingly interconnected, to cultivate profound intercultural understanding and a withstanding regard for opportunity and common liberties. Such methodologies favour an interdisciplinary and global curriculum, in a private setting. By placing African fashion practices on par with Eurocentric standards, African decolonisation transforms fashion narratives (Jansen, 2019). These methodologies augment the improvement of intercultural and interpersonal skills, which will signify things to come in the 5IR working environment.
Penphrase (2018) suggests that a modern curriculum design prerequisite for instruction inside 4IR, is to incorporate a solid overlay of moral reasoning, intercultural mindfulness and critical thinking to design insightful and educated applications regarding the exponentially developing technologies. Introducing advanced fashion technology into the fashion school curriculum will guarantee that fashion school graduates enter into a world that they can help shape with intelligence and ability, while building a future society that pioneers innovations, economically and morally.
The Integration Of Fashion Technology In Fashion Media Course Design
In fashion studies, it is imperative that online activities relate to the world of work, and FMS should have both skills and content to support this as part of the curriculum. Innovative course design should support knowledge transmission and skills acquisition (Heinerichs et al., 2016). Experienced academic managers at all levels and a clearly communicated vision are necessary for change to take place at the wider institutional level. In this context, enough room for informed discussions as well as workshops and training opportunities are necessary, allowing both beginner and more advanced scholars to share practices and address concerns. This is vital to get a broader set of potentially interested professionals and academics involved rather than just the ‘early adopters’ (Bryant, 2018).
Mitra (2020), in his latest ground-breaking research on distance learning, maintains that to change the way we express the modern curriculum, the researcher should create it as a question. A critical open question that needs to be investigated is what students must engage with in order to be future-ready for the digitally transformed fashion industry. Kalbaska et al., (2019) hypothesise that digital practices within the fashion industry are being introduced rapidly and require well-prepared and skilled employees who are trained in navigating new available technologies and communication platforms. Whereas digital fashion has a proven consumer base and high engagement, the scholarly investigation of this still has much opportunity for growth, with key questions and areas yet to be explored. The fashion industry battles to discover graduates with a fitting blend of technical, IT and analytical skills. Inclusion of digital fashion-related topics and skills within modern vocational curriculums is critical due to changing needs of modern aptitudes and competencies. An overhauled educational module should be implemented to work towards filling such aptitude crevices within the industry.
Fashion Media Studies Integration Of Modern Fashion Technologies
The learning outcomes of the modern curriculum should integrate an in-depth understanding of strategic applications of social media platforms and technical skills required in the fashion industry. Communication abilities play a curial role in the fashion industry as new entrants are pioneering new visual and digital media as imaginative ideas are communicated through digital channels which require writing skills and online platforms to create online content.
Business models for industry, aesthetics, meanings and audience activity would be areas to consider when challenging established practices in FMS. Enhanced aspects of contemporary modes of communication, including wide access to both social networks and digital platforms are essential. Software platforms must be customised to complement the program’s orientation. A series of recent studies indicate that the fashion industry is extensively utilising digital platforms apart from traditional media channels such as fashion films, television, newspapers, blogging, vlogging, podcasting, fashion reviews and reporting. Seixas (2017) points out that 4IR transformed the media environment and how media is captured and being communicated, allowing the emergence of innovative fashion imagery. Augmented reality (AR) (an enhanced version of the physical world using digital visual elements, sound, or other sensory stimuli delivered via technology (Hayes, 2020)) should be incorporated into course design. . Students should be able to create an AR filter using software like Vuforia Engine, LivShows, Unity 3D and Spark AR (Griffin, 2022).
The digital revolution has contributed to the emergence of new forms of communicating fashion, making fashion films a relevant and widely broadcasted genre. Types of conveyance move from promotional spots in cinemas to web-based media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), video platforms (YouTube, Vimeo, TikTok), fashion film platforms (Nowness, ShowStudio, Bokeh), or TV fashion channels (Fashion TV). Editing content for FMS is a vital skill needed in the fashion industry and practical skills associated with digital platforms for editing and creating visual content are crucial. To prepare students, FMS curricula must introduce social media systems and their associated digital platforms used by social media influencers to create content using XR, AR and other fashion technology as part of the portfolio of a fashion media practitioner (Park et al., 2016, SanMiguel et al., 2015).
Being a fashion media practitioner requires communicative, analytical and creative skills, but also knowledge of platforms at operational levels which will have a practical impact on redesigning the modern vocational curriculum. Challenges in this domain are to identify the types of technology, (including software programs, hardware devices and internet interfaces), that the fashion industry will need to master and to determine the skill levels necessary to be competitive.
Griffin (2022) hypothesises that the fashion development process is accelerated through 3D software and fashion schools should invest in them. Data analytics courses should also be offered in fashion schools across Africa. By utilising analytics, fashion entrepreneurs, brands, and retailers will improve their pricing and forecasting strategies. This will facilitate students' learning of new technologies such as NFT's, 3D digital design and XR.
Penphrase (2018) puts forward that 4IR puts a premium on versatility and in self-coordinated learning and thinking. The timeframe of realistic usability of any aptitude in the present-day condition has increasingly shortened, requiring future fashion media practitioners to persistently refresh their abilities and develop and implement new innovations and new enterprises that might not have existed while they were studying.
Overall, evolving fashion technology demands acute changes in fashion schools which embody critical engagement following the paradigm of changes in curriculum and learning design. However, a modern approach should be developed by identifying and comparing current technologies used by the fashion industry and examining possible directions for future development. Further research to examine how fashion studies are taught in relation to these technology platforms and attempts to outline practical ways in which these technological platforms might be applied in fashion studies are critical in order to provide learners with work-ready skills.
By Christina Elgie, lecturer and module coordinator at the STADIO School of Fashion
Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR)
Vocational Education (VE)
Fashion Media Studies (FMS)
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