Conlon, Joanne (2019) A Learning Architecture: How Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Drives Innovation in The Curriculum and Pedagogy of Fashion Business. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

There is a global trend toward improving the student learning experience in higher education. Industry-oriented educational courses must also consider how to prepare graduates for their future professional practice with an awareness of holism and system thinking sustainability, tolerance of uncertainty, knowledge of relevant digital technologies and use of theory.

This study responds to these challenges and illustrates an alternative pedagogic approach for the emerging sub-discipline of fashion business. Fashion business is an important and emerging subdiscipline of fashion with limited published educational research. This subdiscipline has particular significance given the cultural importance, economic significance, ethical and environmental impact of the associated industry. The acceleration and influence of technology is significantly affecting industrial working practices through the adoption of knowledge management systems such as product life-cycle management (PLM). This study represents the first implementation of a PLM philosophy and system within an undergraduate course aligned with the retail, footwear and apparel sector.

The study aimed to employ PLM to establish a community of learning between students, educators and industry with the intention of creating a participatory learning experience that mimics current practice and supports professional identity formation rather than adding digital transformation to the curriculum. The PLM system was used to update, sequence and connect the subject- and work-based elements more coherently such that engagement in practice is a source of critical and innovative thinking empowering graduates to take the practice of fashion business forward.

This action research study involved the implementation of PLM as a way of teaching a global sourcing module in the second year of the course (cohort n=28) over a phased implementation from 2014 to 2018. Communities of practice (Wenger, 1998) is used to understand the learning design and the identity work that students engage in as they develop professionally. Data was collected from students via video and interview, from the practitioner researcher and from external stakeholders. Data from all sources were analysed collectively by using Wenger’s (1998) learning architecture to establish a coding scheme.

This thesis describes how the adoption of PLM established a community of learning (CoL) through an educational partnership with the global technology company, PTC Inc. It argues that PLM is a powerful tool of collaboration between students, industry and educators and provides a robust mechanism to establish a community of learning, which also preserves the unique principles derived from design pedagogy. This thesis asserts that a design pedagogy supports students’ professional development and bring coherence and relevance to the curriculum and argues for the preservation of this unique learning experience in order to support the successful transition through education and onto the workplace. Further, this thesis illustrates how the insight and energy of students and graduates, who are at the periphery of practice, have much to contribute to the development of ways of working in an industry in transition. The value of closer collaboration between industry and academia is identified and the thesis makes recommendations for ways that PLM might be developed to achieve this. The study also demonstrates the applicability and value of the methodology of action research to collaborative and change projects in higher education.

Thesis_final_Nov_13th_Jo_Conlon.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (5MB) | Preview


Downloads per month over past year

Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email