Fashion Research Institute is a leading researcher and practitioner in online interactive instructional design for fashion designers. Working with both design students and practitioners alike, we have developed a series of prototype courses that have been extensively piloted to create best of breed design courses conducted wholly in virtual worlds. Design students learn to rapidly prototype and develop their designs in a low-risk, low cost environment, where their creativity is not fettered by the usual constraints of costs of materials or lack of equipment.
Teaching students in this environment requires adjustments on the educator's part to both keep up with the students, and to learn to teach them in meaningful ways which enable thoughtful, respectful dialogue from all participants.
As a result of FRI's work in this area, we have developed a series of courses aimed at the design student who wishes to explore fashion design through 'virtua' or avatar apparel design and development. These courses take a student through a series of exercises contained within the FRI patent-pending design framework. Students emerge having completed a full collection from inception to final runway showing, with a comprehensive exploration of merchandising and marketing of their work. Students are empowered to 'let the marketplace decide' about the quality of their work; in this environment, students rapidly learn how to commercialize their work, saving countless weeks of effort in the physical world, and countless dollars in material costs.
The value of the education is the same or in many cases, even better, than the experience they would acquire working in an apparel internship, as the students themselves take their own creative expressions and put them through the collection development process. There is no more powerful feedback for them than seeing how the marketplace responds to their creative efforts, and this is feedback which is enabled in virtual worlds. In the space of weeks, they receive feedback they would have to wait years for in the apparel industry.
FRI offers courses, orientation programs, textbooks, and complete programs available as OAR files, ready to license to other institutions. Individuals are welcome to register for courses directly with FRI. Please follow the links for more information about these areas.