Friday, September 12, 2008

Issues of disability considered

Reply to Leighs comments:
Thanks leigh - I guess I was considering the physical requirements of the technical aspects of the fashion design degree - you are right in pointing out that some students take a course for interest only or parts of courses to further knowledge rather than with the expectation of using a skill in practice. The implications for flexible teaching and learning therefore become wider ranging as you suggest, especially in the use of the internet/online learning. Will certainly consider this more within the fashion school context.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Have just accessed the Illuminate session with Pam McBride from the Disabilities Unit - here are some of my thoughts in terms of disability, access and equity and some current issues within my own area:

  • literacy issues are ongoing within both the cert and degree programmes in fashion
  • we have enlisted the help of the learning centre in developing reading and writing skills in particular for our Yr1 BDes students who all benefit from essay writing skills etc as we found that teaching staff were using up valuable studio time teaching students how to read and write to the required academic level
  • certainly open entry into cert programmes has increased the pressure on teaching staff however as mentioned by Pam the rewards of student success are a bonus
  • identifying as having a disability is a difficult thing to do for many students and I sometimes think a name change for the service might make it a more 'attractive' option!
  • physical disability is certainly an issue in CBlock where we do not have easy access to our building and the second floor except thru the carpark and the Yr3 studio - would be difficult to accommodate a person in a wheelchair for example but not impossible
  • we currently have a student with a broken arm who is unable to take part adequately in the current projects and is struggling with writing/typing an essay - I will be advocating she contacts the unit to access the Dragon software
  • we are able to be flexible within our programme in terms of managing short term disability issues such as the broken arm - this particular student can be assessed on previous work of course but can also opt to complete the requirements of the project at a later date or enlist the help of others to complete parts of the project
  • not sure how an ongoing disability would be managed within a course that does require a level of (skill) physical agility and dexterity
  • mental illness and psychological impairment seems to be a more common problem with students - this is managed through a strong staff support network and referral to the appropriate agencies
  • we have recently implemented a staff pastoral care programme where each staff member is allocated a cohort of students from each level and year group that they are 'responsible' for in terms of pastoral care - so far this system is working well, is supported by management and means an even distribution of responsibility for staff
  • I am interested in the issue of equity in terms of files on blackboard etc and will certainly pass on the need for using easy access files
  • being flexible in terms of all delivery of teaching and learning and especially in terms of access and equity is an ongoing challenge - each case requires individual assessment
  • inclusion of the student in the solutions is essential as sometimes the 'institution' makes sweeping decisions on what is best for students without fully consulting.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Issues with Flexible learning - Sustainability + NEW FLEXIBLE TEACHING AND LEARNING PLAN IDEA

Toward sustainable practitioners - Sam Mann blog - I attended a presentation from Sam Mann as part of reflecting on the Graduate profiles for the whole design department earlier in 2008. Questions asked:

1. What does it mean to be a sustainable practitioner in your field? (and what progress are you making towards this)
2. How is this understanding being reflected in your programmes (Graduate profiles, learning outcomes etc)
3. Evidence of how this is making a difference in teaching and learning.

Some answers: Use of materials is an ongoing area of concern within the fashion industry as is the ethical use of the workforce - sustainable design considers the process from conception of the idea through to the finished article/object - reference to the concept of 'cradle to cradle' (McDonough and Braungart 2003) and the 'triple bottom line' is an essential part of this process. Students within the Yr2 Bachelor of Design (Fashion) programme currently undertake a series of lectures and workshops to increase awareness of these issues and are encouraged to incorporate these ideas into their design practice.
A study of current Yr2 BDes fashion students carried out this year by Tracy Kennedy & Caroline Terpstra has highlighted the understanding and awareness of these students and possible teaching and learning methodologies that can be employed to insure our students are responsible designers of the future and capable graduates. The outcomes and recommendations from this study/paper have yet to be fully realised (need to create a link to this paper yet - any ideas of the best place to put it - would actually like to put it somewhere on this blog)

Teaching and learning of sustainability and sustainable design practice requires overall institutional 'buy in' including a willingness to fund, support and participate in initiatives. Student centred teaching and learning projects incorporating action competency that enable students to fully participate and integrate sustainable knowledge have been shown to be the most effective.


  • It is intended that the outcomes and recommendations from the study above will be put to use within the programme
  • I intend to use the knowledge gained through this study to develop a sustainable fashion business model/plan that can be utilised by students within a current course
  • There is potential for this model to be used within other courses/programmes and by industry
  • Fashion Design Studio 4 (Production Block) is a Term 4 paper at Year 2 of the BDes (Fashion) - a group project that involves students setting up a hypothetical fashion business/label and designing a range of garments for a local retailer
  • Actual local retailers are part of this project and participate as part of the market research for a group and as buyers and moderators of outcomes
  • The potential to gain industry 'buy in' is enormous
  • Students are exposed to small business and marketing materials/resources including an introduction to sustainable business practice and manufacturing
  • The current business plan will be developed further to fully incorporate sustainable practice principles and the fashion (design) outcomes will also reflect sustainable practice
  • How is this flexible? - in terms of delivery this still needs "nutted out" but I imagine incorporating an online business plan template would be a good start
  • There is the possibility of collaboration with an existing offering from Trade and Enterprise yet to be investigated:
  • The Trade and Enterprise template is extremely thorough and takes a long time to navigate in its current form something that I believe may work against its use
  • A more simple template with links that can be explored by those wanting extra information could be an alternative here
  • I will review my current teaching and learning resources for this academic year and upcoming course however a complete revamp will require time and will be fully implemented next year 2009.

Finally to answer the question: What is the equivalent transparent design for teaching and flexible learning?

- socially aware teaching and flexible learning:

  • no hidden agendas - clear directives
  • equity for all learners
  • managable workloads - time management
  • access to resources and materials
  • support services available
  • blended delivery - online and face to face

Thats all for now............................