Guest Post: Teaching fashion marketing online



I am Gretchen Harnick, Assistant Professor of Fashion Marketing at Parsons, The New School for Design in New York City.


I teach Social Commerce (Social Media Marketing), Global Marketing and Retailing. I have been a full time faculty member and coordinator of our online curriculum at Parsons for 5 years now. We have about 300 campus students in our program and there are 70 dedicated to taking the entire program online, living around the world.

This semester, I have a student in Hong Kong, one in Mexico City, another in South Florida and others who live in NYC, but are taking a few online courses as they hold industry internships during the daytime.


How to have a collaborative discussion online

I develop all of my online courses myself, just as I would for the classroom. This means I produce all of my weekly lecture material, which can include written format, graphs and charts, links to articles, video guest speakers (i.e. TED talks) to engage and delight the class.

I make my weekly lecture and discussion forums live, each Tuesday at 6am and the students have until the following Tuesday, 6pm, to login, review the material, produce their own content and ideas, and collaborate in the online classroom.


How to motivate each student in the class to collaborate online, every week.

Online, each student is forced to participate so I can see that they are present.

Students log in when they are able to. They are focused, on-task and ready to work when they sit down in my class on their own timeline.

Solution 1

Get creative! Stimulate Discussion by asking them to bring research to the table.

  • Ask students to post 3 screenshots from a fashion brand’s ad campaign, via social media and past seasons.
  • Ask them to analyze, “What are the social, cultural and personal influences you think the brand was trying to communicate to their customers?”
  • And then ask, “What suggestions would you offer to the brand to more align themselves with their brand messaging?”

Solution 2

Charge them with cross-learning, collaboration.

  • Watch a short video of a thought leader in the field.
    • Select a TED talk, or “out there” leader in the field and post a 20-30 minute video.
  • Ask students how they connect with the ideas and thoughts presented.
    • Does it contradict prior learning, or reading in the textbook?
  • Most importantly, require them to read and comment on posts provided by their classmates.
    • Ask them to take point or counterpoint, validate or ask for clarification.


As the teacher, I pop in a few times each week for 10 or 15 minutes at a time to participate in the replies/discussion and move it along. Or sometimes I have to clarify, ask deeper questions, prompt them to think deeper.


Gretchen_head shot


So hopefully some of these tips can be incorporated into your discussion areas, and you are inspired to try teaching online.

Experiment, and have fun!



Prof Gretchen

Wired Learning motto: LearnWell


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