CEO Condé Nast College of Fashion & Design
Learning much about how online delivery is an ‘and’ not an ‘or’
The Condé Nast College of Fashion & Design or CNC as it is known as, provides students with world-class fashion education in the heart of London. Through being part of one of the largest and most powerful publishing houses in the world and with the support of the highly recognised academic institution of the University of Buckingham, the college is able to combine academic excellence with unrivalled links to the fashion and media industry. Nick Isles, CEO, Condé Nast College of Fashion & Design speaks about how the Covid crisis has reshaped education in more than one way and the challenges of turning classroom based teaching into online delivery.
How has the worldwide lockdown impacted the educational institutes and the students? What are the immediate concerns?
The immediate challenge was to turn classroom based teaching into online delivery. The two media are very different from each other. And we had only one week to make the changes. Needless to say we learned a lot in a short time about what techniques were required. Session content needs to be shorter with more opportunity for reflection, embedding and group work via online communication tools such as zoom. Staff and students rallied well but students have missed the physical contact and community with each other, staff and industry speakers. We are learning much about how online delivery is an ‘and’ not an ‘or’.
How are you realigning your course offerings in the era of Covid-19? How has the crisis reshaped education in more than one way?
I think the major impact has been of speeding up of existing plans to diversify. So we established our very first online only course in fashion & image very quickly shortening the normal 3-4 months development time into just 6 weeks. It has more generally been a trend accelerator speeding up familiarity with online offerings and increasing their salience and take up. It has also meant some rethinking of ‘space’ and how it is utlilised.
Have you devised a roadmap on how your institute can go the e-learning way that will ensure continual learning for the students from home?
Yes - all our BA and MA programmes have moved into online delivery as well as new programmes of online only courses have been developed.
Do you believe this will lead to more professors believing in the quality of online learning and wanting to incorporate the best into their teaching by forgetting the perceived quality gap?
At its best there is no quality gap just a different learning experience. We have found that attendance for tutorials has actually gone up now that they are all online for example.
If the outcomes of e-learning are not that great, what can institutions and individual instructors do to ensure a better rather than worse outcome?
E-learning like all learning is as good as the quality of the development, content and tutors allows. There is no obvious reason for quality to be less in an online environment. It is just a different environment.
Could the move to online learning be the catalyst to create a new, more effective method of educating students?
Certainly a different way of blending the old and the new to create a better learning environment and better learning outcomes for students.
Please give us a background of Condé Nast College of Fashion & Design – when was it formed, its founders, current faculty members and student strength.
CNC was founded in 2012 and was established by Conde Nast Britain. It is one of three colleges currently that have been established by Conde Nast including one in Madrid and one in Mexico. It has a faculty that has very experienced lecturers and educators including Harriet Posner, author of the seminal book Marketing Fashion. It currently has some 500 students enrolled on its various programmes throughout the year.
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