Fashion education has been a mega business since 1986 when NIFT was first founded. Thousands of one-room institutes encouraged students to opt for fashion, which turned into a multi-crore industry providing employment to lakhs of people. But the acute shortage of trained faculty and good infrastructure forced many to close down during the pandemic situation, since they could not keep up with technology as well as offer world class education. Some of the top institutes moved speedily into online education with global connections and trained faculty and are ready for the future.
We have learned to live with the new normal. When the institute started online classes from April 1, 2020, it was difficult both for faculty and students but with timely intervention by seniors everyone was able to adjust. The faculty members were trained online for multiple online teaching platforms like Microsoft Team, Google Classroom and others. We developed a small dress form and taught the students to make tabletop dress forms of half size with available materials at home.
Online attendance was very easily captured, as students were asked to keep their cameras on. Each part of the country has some bandwidth available and recorded lectures were shared with students if required. There has been no impact on new registration of students in 2020-2021.
Some of our campuses did online graduation shows but physical exhibition/shows were not held, while all students did internships in a hybrid mode. Industry is going through a difficult phase and till the time the situation stabilises it will be a big challenge for both graduates and industry. Some part of the industry especially the companies with ecommerce platforms are already seeing substantial growth. Over 69 per cent of the students have already been placed. NIFT will be starting placement from July 5 for the rest of the students of 2020 and the batch of 2021.
We have figured out a way of creating assignments and taking online exams. The pandemic was a fabulous opportunity to get experts from all over the world to give their inputs to students as practically everyone was working from home globally. This gave them added exposure.
The institute organised online counselling on a regular basis for all students. The counsellor and the faculty members were regularly in touch with students during this difficult time. Regular meditation and yoga programmes have been added for the studentsand officials of NIFT.
Universally it has been acknowledged that an online system cannot replace in-classroom, in-person and interactive environment. But with technology and adaptation in ways of disseminating the curriculum, there is no reason for virtual learning experience to be any less in terms of skill and acumen.
With reference to fashion and design, a few areas like material handling and finishing processes may have to be rerevised in a physical classroom set-up to enhance one’s skillset.