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Date 24.09.2015
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Emma Pritchard

EXPERIENTIAL BLENDED LEARNING, BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN THEORY AND PRACTICE: HIGHER EDUCATION ON THE BRINK OF A LEARNING REVOLUTION

Emma Pritchard, BA (Hons) Fashion Management with Marketing – UK

With the continued growth of Pure Play ecommerce business and the advent of Multi and Omni channelling, roles within the Fashion industry have seen an essential growth and change in core skills focus, with many jobs now requiring both classic and new technological and ecommerce skill focuses (Gov 2015).

The rapid development of technologies has seen a disruption, not only within manufacturing and industry, but also social patterns, visible in how students communicate and stay in touch with friends and family (Nesta 2014). New technologies have changed the way students consume, share and talk about creative content via online social media platforms such as Facebook. The social circles in which students discuss and share ideas, and through which they discover, learn and share cultural content, have greatly expanded and yet become more connected (Nesta 2014). With such rapid technological changes, it is important that HE educators begin to question if Universities are developing appropriate learning environments that reflect, foster and integrate new technological methods of communicating and sharing cultural content.

This paper explores the paradigms of blended learning to enable, enhance and transform the process of ‘Real World’ learning. In ‘A Manifesto for Creative Economy’ Bakhshi et al (2013) identified that the Creative Industrial Society was developing rapidly into one of technological information, telecommunication and ‘Real World’ learning. For the Millennial student, the need and constant deployment of competition in the market, and the multiplication of professional skills consists a very important factor in the embedding of traditional face-to-face, and non traditional online, practices to bridge the gap between academic theory and ‘Real World’ practice within the Creative industry markets (Garcia & Garcia 2010).

It is a University’s responsibility to offer services and pedagogical methods that are responsive to the diverse culture, social and academic needs which reflect the challenges within the Creative industry markets. Higher Education ‘teeters on the brink of a revolution’ (Hooker, 1997) as Universities move in to a period of ‘Work Ready‘ Government focus (Gov 2015). The new challenges that have arisen by the Government requirements will push Universities to rethink their pedagogical ‘Value’ and teaching methodologies in the alignment of academic theory with industry practice, to develop ‘Work Ready’ graduates.

Taking inspiration from Michel Callon’s model of “Sociology of transition” with its moments of transition: problemization, interestment, enrolment and mobilization this paper will review how the Government and Universities have responded to industry transformation, re- interpreted it and developed its own agenda in terms of pedagogical ‘Value’ in the development of “Real World” learning within HE.

This paper will evaluate the paradigms of blended learning in the development of an integrated offline and online multi touch point learning framework to transform the process of ‘Real World’ learning, enhance attainment and develop an industry relevant ‘Experiential’ learning environment. By aligning theory and practices to pedagogical “Value”, in terms of “Real World” learning the framework will allow students to develop an understanding of not only traditional oral and written presentation skills, but experience industry scenario problem-solving roles that will facilitate the development of valuable ‘Real World’ knowledge and understanding. By developing an appropriate ‘Experiential Blended Learning’ environment, Universities will be able to confidently equip students with industry level knowledge and cultural capital for a successful life beyond the bonds of HE education (Keppall 2010).

Keywords: Experiential, Education, Blended Learning, Fashion Industry, Technology New Media Platforms, Cultural Industries Policy, Creative Economy, Translation, Learning.

 

Emma pritchardEmma Pritchard has been with Southampton Solent University since 2008. She graduated from the University of Southampton with a BA (Hons) in Fashion and then later accomplished a Master of Arts in International Fashion and Textiles with Marketing in 2010, which allowed her to study within international schools of fashion such as Institute Frances De La Mode Paris, and the Hoog School Ver De Kunsten in the Netherlands. During her MA studies, the Textile Institute, Guild of Weavers, awarded Emma a scholarship towards funding her studies. Emma has taught a range of fashion branding, buying and merchandising, supply chain management, marketing, multi and omni channeling units across the School of Fashion, working predominately with BA (Hons) Fashion Management with Marketing and BA (Hons) Buying and merchandising degrees.

Currently, Emma is also an external examiner for BA (Hons) Fashion Design and Technology at Manchester Metropolitan University. Emma has also served as an external assessor for the London College of Fashion in the validation the new degrees; BA (Hons) Fashion marketing and BA (Hons) Fashion visual merchandising and branding.

As part of Emma’s on-going research she has worked with the London College of Fashion in the role of dissertation supervisor for the BA (Hons) Fashion Management with Marketing course, as well as specialising in the development of live projects, and the embedding of theory and practice of work based learning within the fashion industry.

Industry experience
Prior to pursuing a career within academia, Emma worked for many well-known fashion brands such as Ted Baker, Fat Face, Paul Costelloe and Muji (Tradia Europe) across roles in buying and production.
Drawing on 10 years of industry experience, Emma’s personal focus is the development of industry supported live projects and the embedding of ‘real world’ skills sets.
Conferences, Papers and Publications:
London College of Fashion 2015 Attainment conference: Experiential blended learning, bridging the gap between theory and proactive: Higher Education on the brink of a learning revolution.
Southampton Solent university 2015 teaching and learning conference: Experiential blended learning, bridging the gap between theory and proactive: Higher Education on the brink of a learning revolution.
Royal College of Art 2012, Fashioning the City, Exploring Fashion Cultures, Structures and Systems: Industry, Government and Fashion: A symbiotic relationship in the development of Cultural Economy.
ICICTE International Conference 2012, Information Communication Technologies in Education: Industry, Government and Fashion: A symbiotic relationship in the development of Cultural Economy.
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