Talking Agile in Your Classroom

Educators are embracing agile to adapt to a rapidly changing industry.
Collaboration, motivation and reflection are some of the key elements that define agility practice.

Agile techniques, once the domain of software developers, have evolved beyond the IT department. Now entire industries, including education, are embracing agile — with impressive results to match.

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A new book, Agile and Lean Concepts for Teaching and Learning Bringing Methodologies from Industry to the Classroom, edited by our very own National Postgraduate Director, Dr David Parsons along with Dr Kathryn MacCallum, explores how agile and lean ideas can be applied in teaching and learning at all levels of education.

Dr Parsons said he was motivated to make this book happen by seeing how agile methods were being applied in one of our class sessions at The Mind Lab.

“As someone with extensive experience of agile methods in the software industry, I was fascinated by the ways in which some innovative practitioners were using agile ideas in the classroom.

What I discovered was that while there were many people working in this area, including teachers, practitioners and academics, there was no publication available that drew all these ideas together for a broader audience. That was when I decided, with my co-editor Kathryn MacCallum, to reach out to this community and invite them to contribute to this publication.”

What is the concept of agile?

Originally from the software industry, agile concepts value collaborating and responding to change while meriting the work of individuals to produce quality products and ideas.

The recent industry-wide uptake of agile comes as a direct response to rapid technological and social changes. The pace of current change outstrips the ability for some industries to keep up.  More and more, teams are overwhelmed with the increasing need to adapt and respond quickly.

“Educators are constantly subjected to change as new and emerging techniques, tools and ways of teaching are assessed and implemented to support the dynamic needs of today’s learners,” Parsons said.

“Learning agility is an openness to new information to gain critical insights. You’re proactively adapting your own practice to evaluate success and overall team interaction.  You learn to be open to change and empower others to change as well.

Agile approaches to teaching and learning emphasise the importance of collaborating with educational stakeholders (students, caregivers, community), responding to change, valuing individuals and their interactions and creating meaningful and valuable learning experiences. In the classroom, students work in self-organising teams, where they can decide their own goals and ways of learning in a transparent and accountable way.”

Demonstrating how agile and lean ideas can concretely be applied to education, Agile and Lean Concepts for Teaching and Learning covers a broad range of topics, including applying agile teaching and learning techniques, uses in the classroom, incorporating lean thinking in educational workflows, and using team-based approaches to student-centered activities based on agile principles and processes.

The result is a practical guide on how to apply agile ideas, as well as new concepts that could spark further research and development.

Agile and Lean Concepts for Teaching and Learning: Bringing Methodologies from Industry to the Classroom, is published through Springer and available for purchase online.

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