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Professor Spotlight: Margaret Bishop

In this interview, we chat with Professor Margaret Bishop about her classes, the textbooks she's written, and how Classavo makes her life easier and classroom more dynamic.

May 10, 2022

Classavo is used by professors at an array of colleges and universities to enhance their online teaching and make their courses more engaging and accessible for students. Classavo's unique interface gives professors of all fields and expertise the chance to provide more dynamic course content to their students. 

Margaret Bishop is a professor that uses Classavo and recently joined us to share some insight into how it has transformed the classroom experience for herself and her students. She is a graduate of North Carolina State University's College of Textiles. She also holds a MBA and  a Master's in Global Fashion Management. Before becoming a university instructor, she worked in manufacturing management for America’s leading textile producer, and later consulted for textile and apparel firms worldwide. Having lived or worked in over 100 countries, she brings her worldly experience to the content of her textbooks and the courses she teaches. 

Where do you teach?

I'm teaching at New York City’s  three leading fashion universities: the Fashion Institute of Technology, which is part of the State University of New York, Parsons New School for Design, and LIM College. I teach both undergraduate and graduate-level.

What do you teach?

I teach a Textile Converting and Costing course. Hence, one of my textbooks. I also teach a Textile Value Chain Marketing course. Hence, my other textbook. I also teach strategic management, global professional practices, and supply chain management. So I have one foot in the textile space and one foot in the general business space. I literally wrote the textbooks when I could not find any that were relevant, sufficiently detailed, and up to date.

How did you find out about Classavo and how long have you been a user?

It's been about three or four years now. I first found out about it through SUNY. Very quickly, it captured my attention because I had already written the initial print editions of both of my textbooks. Classavo offered me the platform to take them digital and interactive - a real benefit to students.

What were your expectations going in? How has your experience been since?

The fact that I could migrate both of my textbooks to a digital, interactive format rather than just pages to read had me immediately intrigued and interested.

I've been able to take advantage of things like rollover technology. If a student comes across a term they don't understand or aren't familiar with, they're able to roll their cursor over the word or phrase, and the definition pops up. That's one of the things that my students have given me specific feedback on, saying they really like it. Because even though I also have a complete glossary at the end of the work, they like to be able to see what the definition is right in the sentence they're reading without having to flip to the back of the book or open a different chapter or that kind of thing. So that's one of the things that you get with the Classavo platform that's just not practical to do in a seamless way in a print book.

You can find one of Margaret's books, Textile Converting and Costing, in our Marketplace.

How does Classavo seamlessly integrate into your course materials?

With the Classavo platform, if there's something that happens in the news that is relevant and I want to drop it into my textbook, 15 minutes later, it's in my textbook. Every student who has subscribed to it can see that updated content. So it literally allows me to keep content up to the minute.

What impact has Classavo made on your lesson plans?

I love it! One of the things that university students complain about is if you give them articles or books or any other content to read that's from earlier than a year or two prior - even if it’s still relevant, they think, 'that's so old.’ Their perspective on what is current has a very short timespan. So the fact that my content can literally be up to the minute has been something my students have valued.

Another thing that's really neat about this platform that I have used and will use even more in the future is the ability to embed web links to videos so they can be reading about something, and then they can go right to a YouTube video or some other animated content. 

It enables me to bring in content that's in a different format. And that not only adds richness to what students are learning but gives them the engagement that they're so accustomed to from online shopping and going to blogs and so forth - engagement they don't typically get in a textbook. Anything that increases their engagement enhances their learning and recall!

What impact has Classavo made on your students?

I think it's a tremendous benefit for any student because they have access to content via different mechanisms. 

Anything that makes them more engaged or interested is going to help facilitate their learning. And then for those of us as authors, incorporating interactive questions, using the rollover technology, and so forth, further facilitates the students' access to information. Of course for remote students, it is accessible within minutes of their subscribing - no lengthy delivery delays or costly duty charges for students outside the U.S.

And then there's the ADA compliance – the text to speech functionality, and scalable font – that is so important for students who frankly are left out of a lot of content access with traditional textbooks or for whom accessing content is just so much more difficult. So I guess you could say, it’s great for everybody.

Who would you recommend Classavo to and why?

I think it's great for any professor, whether you're writing your own textbooks or adopting another author’s textbook  that is powered by Classavo. It's great that any professor teaching the same subject matter or related subject matter could adopt your book because it makes their teaching easier and allows them to stay current. It's more engaging for students, which always makes it easier for us to teach if our students are interested and engaged. And for any professors who want to write their own textbooks. The Classavo platform is easy to use and the Classavo team is great.

How would you describe your teaching style? Has that changed since our remote learning shift?

My teaching style is very different from that of most professors I had during my university studies. I don't stand and lecture. I think today, anybody who does that is going to lose their students. I teach by discussion. Some would say I use a Socratic method. Since I teach mainly by discussing topics with my class, I migrated easily to a virtual platform that still kept my students engaged. And because they were used to interacting with me and each other on this virtual platform, I didn't have to worry about my students turning off their cameras and the microphones and going to get breakfast or taking a nap instead of participating in class.

With today's students having grown up with the internet, video content, and interactive web, they're not accustomed to sitting down and reading a textbook and listening to a lecture. We, as educators, really have to be entertainers. 

We have to deliver content through entertainment. If not, we just can't keep our students engaged. So the fact that I could migrate both of my textbooks to a digital, interactive format rather than just a page in front of them that they had to read had me immediately intrigued and interested.

Also in my case, the pivot to remote teaching was not difficult because I already had been certified to teach online and taught a number of courses online before COVID. I was already intimately familiar and comfortable with the online platforms that we use at each of the three schools where I teach. I was able to very quickly migrate to a virtual environment.

Have other instructors purchased your textbook?

The two textbooks that I've written are both specific to Textiles and Apparel. I'm the only one at the schools where I teach who teaches Textile Converting and Costing, which is one of my textbooks. Although, there are a lot of schools where I think that could be very relevant. Other instructors have adopted my Textile Value Chain Marketing textbook and have used it successively  – adopted it once, have continued to use it, and have recommended it to others.

Do you have any tips for professors writing their own textbooks? 

For an instructor who either authored a textbook or who wants to, Classavo is a great platform because it's so easy to load the content and do any editing, make any updates, embed the videos, incorporate interactive questions, rollover definitions, and so forth. You still have to go through the work of actually writing good content, but you're going to have to do that either way if you're an author, so you might as well publish on a platform that's really easy to use. And Classavo's support staff are terrific for the professors and the students as well.

Classavo Transforms The Classroom 

Professor Bishop's experience demonstrates how seamlessly Classavo integrates into the classroom for fashion, textile, and business professors and how it works at multiple universities for her students. Professors of any specialty, textbook authors, and students can all benefit from Classavo's unique offerings. It is free for professors, so contact us today for your free demo to experience how it can transform your teaching experience. 

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