Computer Technology: An Essential Component for Teaching a Fashion Production Management Course

Computer Technology: An Essential Component for Teaching a Fashion Production Management Course

Shu-Hwa Lin
DOI: 10.4018/jicte.2011010108
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This paper describes an innovative course wherein students and faculty collaborate to design, manufacture, manage, and sell organic cotton tote bags. Students remained responsible for the project from start to finish. Responsibilities included all aspects of product development from market research and design conceptualization to producing, promoting and selling the finished tote bag embellished with a heat transfer printed department logo. Moreover, the project required students to develop proficiency in multiple specific computer software programs to facilitate the product development process and ongoing management of promoting, distributing and selling the goods. With the development of fashion design and management skills and applications of computer technology, student projects were successfully executed. Based on positive student evaluations and profitable sales, the course was highly rated.
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The fashion industry is guided by many complex information technologies and a constantly changing business climate. Industry products can vary anywhere between handcrafted originals and high-tech mass productions, and executive management can range anywhere from family–style businesses to large corporations. This increasingly sophisticated, diverse and technology-driven business environment requires a new kind of professional and, therefore, a new kind of academic training. Instructors must develop new approaches including computer technologies to prepare students to meet the new challenges of the evolving industry.

For example, Logan (2006) indicated that teaching approaches that combine desktop publishing with design could help to produce quality work in the areas of communication project design, support, and management.

Fashion design courses have seen more and more students utilizing technology to complete their academic assignments. Students are becoming increasingly familiar with the applications of computer programs like Windows Movie Maker, Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, Paint, Adobe Photoshop, and Fireworks. At the same time, the global fashion business has become increasingly technology-dependent. Since general computer laboratories are accessible today, using productivity software, such as Product Data Management (PDM) or Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) as a teaching tool has greatly increased in popularity. These courses assist students in mastering both popular computer software and new computer technologies specifically developed for the fashion industry.

The course, Product Data Management, is a mix of production, fashion illustration, and apparel Computer-Aided-Design (CAD) courses that are taught in fall and summer. Instructors have the challenging job of training students to become professional product developers in one semester. The challenge is increased when students have very little drawing experience and limited computer skills. To overcome these challenges, instruction aims at two goals: (1) developing students’ basic drawing skill, knowledge, and computer skills and (2) training students in digital data management in preparation for students' professional careers.

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