Before we’d even begin, I have to warn you that this article is not a general rule or the ultimate truth. It is rather an experimental approach to both learning and teaching technical majors.
Who may be interested in this article?
Math, Engineering, Physics majors, people who have to study and teach technical disciplines, rather than humanities or languages.
Agile Hype and Educational Process
We are living in the world that is more than ever focused on STEM disciplines. With the development of technology, we now face some new challenges: getting hands-on real-life experience, having practical skills over theoretical knowledge, and dealing with a project-based approach rather than a problem-solving one.
This brings us to Project-Based Learning (PBL) as a partial answer to this request.
So today we would like to focus on an approach that was adopted from software development practices. Please remember that PBL often requires group projects so a lot of things will cover working-in-the-team issues.
What is Agile?
In simple words, it is a set of rules and principles that help people adapt to the changes in the workflow.
There is an Agile Manifesto that declares main values and basic principles, which upon further discussion, we’ve adapted to learning and teaching processes.
4 Values of the Agile Manifesto Applied to Education
To be consistent, we will be covering each value and principal separately, trying to adjust them to our needs.
If needed, we will make remarks on whether that specific piece of advice shall be used by students (S.) or teachers (T.)
- Individuals and Interactions over Processes and Tools
The first rule claims that it is more important to focus on humans and relations rather than technology or methodology.
What does it mean?
For educational purposes, this value would mean that it is more appropriate to set personal communication in the group or an individual meeting, rather than use the technology of any sort.
- Working Software over Comprehensive Documentation
If applied to education, this would be Learning over Grading
Despite the fact that any learning process requires tests of some type that should not overrule the meaningful learning.
Agile does not declare freedom from paperwork rather sets a healthy priority of teaching/learning over red tape.
The focal point is to gain knowledge and learn something rather than having it documented and measured.
- Customer Collaboration over Contract Negotiation
Despite this may be a tricky value at first sight, you need to understand you are not alone in your studying process.
At least you have your family and professors who take some part, so make sure you involve them in your studying.
For teachers and professors: this means it’s not about your teaching itself, it is about being focused on the mutual process with all parties involved (you, your students, educational establishment).
- Responding to Change over Following a Plan
Albeit we are well aware that planning is extremely crucial, modern society praises flexibility more that amity to follow a plan.
(S.) You have to master your adaptability to changing requirements and not being angry with it. Even more, you have to learn to value them as they add up to your future success, even if you failed in this iteration.
The Twelve Agile Manifesto Principles transformed for education
Apart from 4 core values, Agile declares 12 principles that create the special culture that, if I may say, celebrates the change and teaches to adapt quickly.
For the sake of easier understanding, we will be providing original principal as well as an adapted version for you to follow.
The twelve principles of agile education include:
- Early and continuous meaningful learning
This means that every student should be involved in the learning process from the first learning iteration, having regular studying intervals instead of dealing with all the material the week before the finals.
- Praise the change and accommodate
We all are annoyed when the initial instructions or the assignments themselves change. However, learning cycle shall not be broken in case of changing requirements or change in this iteration priorities, neither should be you. A small word of advice for teachers: this doesn’t mean you can change requirements for the essay the night before the deadline. It means, you shall be free to adapt or shift requirements if you see they will be more beneficial for your students or you see them doing something completely different from what was initially expected.
- Frequent Learning Sessions
We will talk about this later, but this principal encourages short studying iterations which contribute to the whole learning process and provides sustainable progress within the given period of time. As for me, I believe that every professor should encourage this as not only they will be able to monitor the progress, but also they will see a greater progress by the end of the term/course.
- Seek the opportunity
You need to remember that agile based learning is about you being willing to learn. Seek opportunities to gain new experience, improve your project, extend your knowledge base, or simply develop certain skills within the course. It should be your daily priority to work on this.
- Value human capital resource
Learn to recognize the value of people. This is particularly vital if you have any group projects ahead, so having a strong supportive team built from the beginning is much healthier rather than a gang ready to rat each other out, isn’t it?
Teachers, please if you read these lines, do not turn your class into a survival training where people are ready to rip each other’s throats out for a higher grade. This is not the main focus of any learning process, for God’s sake! You need to motivate them, kindle the spark of interest, and turn it into the fire of learning desire.
- Face-to-face communication
Each student will experience a fear of e-mailing the professor at some time of their academic career. There is a much easier way to deal with it. Come up to a professor after class or pop-up during office hours. For group projects, make sure to set regular update meetings, so everyone will be on the same page, and you will be able to cover any questions fast.
- Progress is measured by meaningful learning
It is so much better to understand that you actually know something rather than simply deal with tons of material you don’t care about. Professors should pay more attention to PBL as it helps you track actual progress and understand your students better, rather than some weird essay or exam (which shows no actual progress at all)
- Sustainable Process
One of the greatest things about agile learning is that you can develop a certain pace and maintain it throughout the course, rather than having to deal with everything at the end of the term. This provides a better understanding of the requirements, an easier learning process, profound knowledge, and even some sort of fun.
- Continuous Attention to Learning Process
Having smaller iterations (the way an agile process is designed) helps every student pay more attention to learning and achieve better results due to better performance and enhanced adaptability.
- Keep it simple
Many students tend to overthink things as they get their degree. If you have 3 essays due, it is better to have 3 simple essays written rather than on great half-written paper. Try to get as much done as possible without having to compromise the quality of work you do.
- Get yourself together
It is not someone’s duty to come and pick you up from pieces every day. It is your responsibility to organize your studying process. The same rule applies to group projects.
A small comment for professors: let the team organize themselves within the given task. Let them choose the leader, set their meetings and pinpoint iterations.
- How are you doing?
Every agile methodology requires regular evaluations and taking time to reflect upon what is happening. Any process that implies development shall have time for any member to adjust and realize where they stand.
Summing up, we can see that it is pretty easy to apply principles and values from Agile Manifesto to studying process.
This will be the end of part one, and we are planning a big article in February on how can we practically implement Agile methodologies in studying process, covering such important topics as Agile vs Scrum, Studying Iterations, and Meeting Types. Stay tuned for more great studying bits of advice from SuperbEssay.com.