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Get Your Hands on Your Future
Nancy Murray is teaching in Retail Merchandising and Management at UW-Stout. Her current courses include Basic Merchandising; Trend Tracking and Forecasting; Advanced Merchandising, Planning and Control (AMPC); and E-commerce Practice and Strategies. Her favorite class is Trend Tracking and Forecasting.
All but AMPC are offered online as well as in the classroom. For her online class in Basic Merchandising, she recorded all the audio in the classroom so her online students could hear the lecture along with classroom questions and answers; she used the same recording for her classroom when she had laryngitis so as not to miss a day! She uses new online teaching applications like Echo 360 (an audio capture program) and Camtasia (a video capture program).
Nancy uses mostly real world examples and experiences to help her students “get it.” Her previous experience was in industry, so she has extensive experience to draw on. For example, Nancy volunteers for the food pantry in Barron where she lives. The organization has a thrift store, and the profits from the thrift store support the Food Pantry. Recently the store moved to a larger space, so she had her students help with planning and organizing how to use the space. Afterwards they all ate at a local Somali restaurant.
She also takes her students into industry. One example of many is that she offers a Study Tour Course. She takes sixteen students twice a year to “MAGIC,” the industry’s largest trade show. One hundred thousand attendees from all over the world gather in Las Vegas for a three- to four-day tradeshow. To be eligible the student must achieve a minimum GPA of 3.0, have earned 45 credits, and earn a “B” or better in the course Trend Tracking and Forecasting. After attending, talking to industry people, attending seminars and walking the show to note trends, the students present their new knowledge to the current class in Trends.
She has also secured funding from Target to take seven students to the Global Retail Conference in Tucson—sponsored by University of Arizona. Students joining her are the executive board members of the student professional group she advises. The conference features presenters that are leaders of major retailer companies. Students realize how much more there is to learn about their field, begin to consider graduate school, and have the opportunity to network with retail executives. In November 2008, she supervised a group of 40 students to the Fashion Group International Conference in Chicago.
Throughout her classes, she regularly utilizes sources and materials other than traditional textbooks. Books and trade journals that professionals in the industry reference, are used in her teaching. She even arranges for the author of two of the books she uses in her Trends class to come to campus each year to make a presentation to the entire campus.