Liki Lab and On-line Stores: My New ‘Fave’ in Teaching
During the fall semester of 2014, I attended a presentation on Liki Labs that was organized as part of the Ped Day at my college. It was love at first sight! Right away, I decided to work with the platform for second half of a course I would be teaching during the winter semester of 2015, entitled Sales Office or Store Layout.
It’s certainly a trend. We shop or ‘pre-shop’ on-line quite a bit. And when there is a new niche, there are probably new competencies and jobs as well. I rolled up my sleeves and started re-imagining my teaching to allow more room for designing on-line stores. I couldn’t have imagined the degree to which the students would get on board. The development criteria for the final projects were often surpassed by the students!
The Liki Lab turned out to be the tool for students enrolled in the Accounting and Management Technology program. There is huge potential for this tool in Fashion Marketing. The objective is to be acquainted with the best practices when designing websites for on-line stores. The Liki Lab educational platform is free and was developed by Liki, in collaboration with colleges and universities. It allows:
- Modelling the interface for the an on-line store
- Inventory management
- Managing deliveries
- Financial management
- Communicating with customers
- Organization of marketing tools
A view of Liki Lab’s interface when beginning the process of creating an on-line store.
You can learn a bit more about Liki Lab by reading this article that was previously published on Profweb.
An example of an on-line store (https://ca.frankandoak.com/)
Sales Office or Store Layout is a 45-hour course. It is a preparatory course leading up to the integrative project for the program, and designed to be a similar as possible to the opening of a real store. The students need to choose a location (available for rent), analyze it and create a visual representation of both the storefront and the interior of the store, taking into account:
- their products;
- their target market;
- the established budget.
In other words, it is a fictional project, but it could just as easily translate to the “real world.”
A final part of the course is reserved for the creation of an on-line store. It has become a retail space to explore in and of itself, given the great importance it occupies in the contemporary retail industry.
In the ‘Students’ area of the Liki Lab web site, you begin with a fashion concept and a branding approach, and the students in my class connect to their fictional sales space. The students get acquainted with web-based marketing, since they have to apply their branding concept to their web site. They need to decide on a strategy for social networking according to the profile of their clientele. Despite the tight timelines, they still need to reflect on the information they wish to transmit to their customers via their website and also create the pages associated with their products (interface design). They also had to:
- Plan how their customer will navigate through the website;
- Think about the user experience (ergonomics); and
- Think through the procedure for a purchase.
An example of an on-line store designed by students
First phase: Planning the Meetings
I have to provide Liki Lab with:
- The schedule for classes during which we will be producing a website;
- The e-mail address for the on-line store that the students created for the occasion;
- The name of the boutique (in order to receive technical support).
Second phase: Preparatory research
Students get into groups of 2 to 3 people. First they attack the research to find images of products to sell, and which are related to the concept for their store. They prepare a concept map for their website (3 or 4 pages). They also define their layout style.
Third phase: Developing the website
The students get down to the work of producing the website for their on-line store. Two classes are dedicated to this phase.
Results of the First Experiment
This was the first experiment and the adventure was shared by two parties: the students and me. When an obstacle came along, the students were sometimes able to find solutions themselves. We could always count on technical support from Liki Lab. There are certain pieces of information that are important. For example, you should avoid using Google Chrome with Liki Lab, which makes placing the images difficult. You should choose another browser.
Before this experiment, my teaching was pretty conventional. With Liki Lab, the dynamic of my courses has changed and sometimes it seemed like a flipped classroom. In class, we were operating in project development mode (activities and work). I was able to spend more time on individual support and supervision.
The Liki Lab is motivating for students, who see the result of their work immediately, and this work very closely mimics reality. They create a web page, and as soon as it is activated, they can browse THEIR website. I really feel that this way of working increases my students’ commitment, and they often surpass themselves. I can’t wait to teach my course in the winter 2016 semester. Having decided to use Liki Lab in the middle of the term as a final project, I ran out of time to get all the way to the end of implementing my project. I hope that each student will be able to visit the sites of the other students in their class. I’m going to refine everything before I teach the course again.
Visibility in the Milieu
I presented the idea of using Liki Lab to my colleagues and the on-line store project will be adapted for the Inventory Management course and eCommerce (a new course within the program). Other courses may also benefit from this experience with Liki Lab.
You’ll also be hearing from me soon about one of my other faves – Pinterest!