Open SUNY Online Teaching Ambassador 2017 – FIT: Naomi Gross
Naomi Gross (B.A., Oberlin College; M.A., Fashion Institute of Technology) is a Professor in the Fashion Business Management department in the Jay & Patty Baker School of Business & Technology at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She has been a full-time member of the faculty since 2000. Her scholarly work focuses on big data as it relates to the retail industry. She has contributed articles on big data for IBM’s Smarter Planet blog, BloombergBusinessWeek.com, and JDA Supply Chain Nation. She received a SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2006 and completed a one-semester Fellowship with SAP, a leader in business applications, in Spring 2014.
Teaching online was a natural fit with my focus on retail technology. While I was not the first on board, I consistently participated in pilots and provided feedback for course management systems and other integrated technologies; whenever possible, I find ways to integrate these into all of my classes where I identify a natural fit.
After I completed online training and received my first teaching assignment, the transition was seamless and benefits to students were tremendous. My concentration is teaching students who are interested in retail planning careers. Online delivery gives them a far greater opportunity to hone critical written communication skills in online discussion forums and to collaborate asynchronously with their peers. This is challenging and requires strong time management and organizational skills that are necessary for student success in the industry.
My approach to online teaching as both a mentor and facilitator brings a level of connection that far exceeds interaction with students in the classroom. This may seem counter intuitive to faculty unfamiliar with online teaching. I am more than happy to ‘meet’ students online to offer just-in-time feedback as they work on class projects and prepare for interviews. The multi-modality of online courses offers students a chance to mirror the way executives collaborate in the fashion industry. They take this directly into internships and are then more prepared for post-graduation opportunities.
In addition to online teaching, I serve as the Advisor to students pursuing an online Associate in Applied Science degree program in Fashion Business Management. This program was launched in 2011 as the first fully online program offered at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Eliciting ongoing feedback from this cohort serves to help me improve the structure, functionality, and clarity in all teaching modalities: online, face-to-face, and blended. In addition, it has been tremendously rewarding to work collaboratively with colleagues across the college to identify pain points for local and international students to develop a structure to serve their needs. In 2013, the program was nominated for Outstanding Open SUNY program.
I look forward to supporting my colleagues as they join the online community at FIT.