It has been said — and sung — that “high school never ends.” And that’s where continual learning à la LIM College comes in, as the private college based in Midtown Manhattan has partnered with fashion industry online learning platform MOTIF to offer a slew of courses tailored for emerging or experienced professionals — and lifelong learners.
Here, Catherine Cole, chief executive officer at MOTIF, talks to WWD about its partnership with LIM College, evolved course offerings and how the pandemic affected continuing education.
WWD: What initiated the partnership between LIM College and MOTIF?
Catherine Cole: Global fashion e-learning platform MOTIF and New York City’s LIM College are partnering to launch a series of online fashion business courses. The collaboration will deliver LIM educational material to a global professional audience, including apparel and retail corporate training programs.
The first three LIM College courses launching exclusively on MOTIF will cover supply chain, sustainability and advanced spreadsheet analytics. The MOTIF platform allows LIM to bring their educational content to a global professional audience, including apparel and retail corporate training programs.
Courses are four to six weeks in length (for 1.5-2 hours per day) and cost between $290 to $525. All instruction will be delivered asynchronously — meaning participants can start a course any time they like and complete it on their own time.
WWD: How are the courses differentiated among comparable online programs? Why are they specifically focused on supply chain, sustainability and advanced spreadsheet analytics?
C.C.: LIM College has been at the forefront of educating fashion’s future business leaders since 1939, fostering a unique connection between academic study and its application in the workplace. The first three courses chosen to launch on MOTIF were curated based on the current demand of the MOTIF audience, which is made up of early- or mid-career industry professionals — from designers to product developers to merchandisers.
Topics in high demand over the past eight to 12 months are things like strategic sourcing, grounding in supply chains and deeper dives into sustainability. These three courses by LIM College are just the beginning and will be quickly followed by even more market-relevant topics.
WWD: What unique features are offered through MOTIF’s e-learning platform? How do those features enhance the LIM College student experience?
C.C.: MOTIF offers authoring tools for any curriculum or certification program owner to transfer their material to a 100 percent virtual environment. The learning can then be marketed and/or distributed through the MOTIF platform to a targeted audience. The features of the platform are built for instructors, universities and companies to self-publish and then track learner progress.
WWD: Has the coronavirus pandemic impacted course offerings? Is there a possibility of in-person learning in the future?
C.C.: The pandemic has served to accelerate the awareness and receptivity to trying out new formats of learning. What we expect to see in the future is the rise in demand for more blended formats of learning. Face-to-face will always be important and will probably be on the rise as soon as COVID-19 gets under control, but there will also be an increased comfort with learning and professional development in a virtual setting.
In the future, continual learning will be in short, bite-sized, focused online learning formats directly tied to competencies and skills. It seems that everyone is now turning to develop and deliver training online, so there is a plethora of offering but the quality from content to user experience highly varies. Developing quality standards and constantly injecting creativity and innovation into online learning programs is not something that can be improvised, content owners and learners who invest their time and dollars need to rely on trusted partners and institutions.
WWD: What’s next for MOTIF?
C.C.: Recently, MOTIF partnered with Alvanon to emphasize the strategic importance of understanding much too little understood digitization with a 3-D Tech Festival. The virtual event attracted 5,000-plus 3-D enthusiasts from 94 countries and 60 renowned speakers that explained why fashion must go digital, and how this can be achieved.
Alvanon has worked extensively with apparel and fashion clients on their digital journeys and they have real insight into what’s working in this confusing space and, crucially, what the industry must do now to survive and thrive.
The aim of the 3-D Tech Festival was to bring the industry together to share intelligence on what strategies and technologies are succeeding in the digital space. All the presentations and session recordings are now available to stream on the 3-D Tech Festival site.
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