"Virtual Business Fashion is a great place to start understanding the real world system. It simulates the industry very closely and provides detailed understanding of fashion, business and marketing skills."
The projects help the students understand the relation between the quantity and pricing and how they are inter-dependent on each other and affects the bigger picture. The design lesson and project teach students how to follow trends, design garments that meet those trends, and do it all at a cost that will allow the garments to sell.
I would highly recommend that high school educators use Virtual Business Fashion to help the students understand different sectors of the industry which will help them decide where their interest lies." Radhika Parsana, FIDM Graduate & Professional Fashion Designer
Frank Rosa teaches business, computer science, and accounting at Apponequet High School in Lakeville, Massachusetts. This year, Rosa is using Virtual Business Fashion to teach a class on the fashion industry. The simulation, created specifically for educators, was designed in partnership with the Los Angeles-based Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. It covers everything from how students should arrange their fictional clothing store’s window displays, to lessons on fashion trends and research. Students learn about pricing and discounts, selling and staffing strategies, and how to conduct effective social media promotions.
The fact is that teenagers have long been the drivers of the fashion industry—spending billions of dollars a year on fashion and accessories. The online fashion simulation harnesses students’ passion for fashion to teach them how to make the kind of real-world business decisions that make or break popular fashion trends.
“The fashion simulation, like other Knowledge Matters sims, is full of what we call ‘chicken nuggets’: It presents information in a way kids love to consume. When they’re on the computer and immersed in the simulations, they don’t feel like they’re being taught with a capital ‘T.’ Only when I actually test them do they realize how much they’ve learned.”
“I like the sim because I’m into fashion,” one of Rosa student’s says. “But kids who aren’t into fashion enjoy it too! It’s definitely my favorite sim ever. There is so much detail in it! Like I had no idea what to think about when you’re designing a store layout.”
The design lesson and project teach students how to follow trends, design garments that meet those trends, and do it all at a cost that will allow the garments to sell. Students take on multiple fashion industry roles over the course of the semester. They act as researchers, following post on an Instagram-like social media platform to spot trends. As designers, they integrate the trends into actual products. Serving as buyers, marketers, merchandisers, ecommerce managers, and as general managers, students experience a career’s worth of fashion business roles in one action-packed semester.
In the course of playing these roles, the students learn how to reason, communicate, and apply math principles they’re learning in school to real-world problems. The fashion sim comes with complete lesson plans, including student activities and objectives,. For each individual lesson, students must complete reading, vocabulary, and math lessons, and complete a simulation exercise.
“Some kids sign up for the class thinking it’s going to be all fun and games, “ Rosa says. “They think they’ll spend the class time playing PacMan, but quickly learn that the sims require a lot of independent thinking. But it’s thinking they can do at their own speed. For me as a teacher, that’s one of the best thing about these programs—and one of the most exciting.”
The way each student interacts with the simulation is a varied as the kids themselves, Rosa says. Some students take an immediate interest in the world of fashion, and are off and running. For others, it is a much more gradual process.
Maybe some students will race ahead at their own to speed. For others, I might ask them to do just the reading lessons at first, then get to the math later.
All of his students need to cover the same lessons over the course of the semester. But they don’t need to do it all at the same speed, which is a reflection of Rosa’s broader educational philosophy.
“Some of our students have a lot of things going on at home that can affect their ability to absorb new material. It might take them longer than another student to grasp a lesson. But at the end of the day, the question is whether they learn the standard. I prefer to look at it that way instead of telling some student they’re going to get a lower grade because they’re slower.”
Rosa likes how the fashion sim makes the grading process faster and easier. “All the grading is done right inside the sim. After they do a reading, they take a reading quiz; after math, they take a math quiz. One thing I really like is that I can set a minimum grade for a test. I can say that you need to get 70 or 80 or 90 or you can’t move on to the next lesson. Then I give them a few chances to get that grade.”
With some simulations, Rosa can also adjust the program so that students complete a pre-test before starting a simulation, then track pretest versus improvements. The sim calculates current grade, total grade, and time spent on the simulation to provide teachers with each student’s overall grade.
Rosa’s day-to-day interaction with his students varies too. In some ways, he says, his physical classroom is much like on online class: The students go at their own pace, but he is always there to help them.
“I’m more like a facilitator. If someone raises their hand, I can go over and help them. More often, I like to deputize other students to help out their classmates. There’s no better way to find out if you’ve really learned a lesson than by trying to teach it to someone else.” On some days, Rosa might discover that a handful of students have the same questions about a lesson. When that’s the case—and when he thinks the question provides a teaching moment, he’ll stop the class and address the question before everyone.
Rosa learned after a few years that the most efficient way to acquire Knowledge Matters business simulations was to purchase a site license. Instead of buying individual simulations—maybe a couple one year and a couple more the next, his all access license gives him and his students online access to every one from anywhere.
“Once I complete the fashion simulation, I can move on the next semester and teach the class about running a restaurant, retail business, hotel, or sports stadium. There are sims that teach accounting and personal finance too. And with a site license, I automatically get all the updates, so I know I’m always teaching my kids the latest stuff.” This is important in a couple of ways, he says. Not only does it provide variation and “entertainment value” that holds his students’ attention. It also gives kids multiple chances to comprehend a lesson. Sometimes, he says, a student might not get a concept in one sim, then get it in the next.
“If they’re in the sports sim and find out they’ve just lost a million dollars, it might be totally unfathomable to them. Put them in the fashion sim when they see what happens when they markdown a clothing item too much, and they start to get it.”