A year ago, when I was teaching undergraduate students, I taught a paper called “Data Structures using C programming”. Yes, the world has moved on to Python and more, but our University (let me not name it, in case I want to go back 😂) was still stuck with C programming. My love for that language and data structures has no bounds, and so I was very happy to teach it. I was teaching this subject to first-semester students and in a jiffy, learned that these students had no prerequisite programming skills and absolutely no clue about what C programming is. I understood right then that I had fallen into a pit very smoothly.
I could not drop out and so I parallelly started teaching them C programming to implement the algorithms. Having to cover a huge syllabus and to teach another skill parallelly was quite a task and was taxing. I consulted a few teachers who had attended the syndicate meeting while framing the syllabus. To my surprise, everyone had objected to including the subject without a prerequisite paper. They said the BOE chairman disagreed and did not listen to them. This came as a shock to me.
Why? What? How? The questions in silence bounced back at me, and I stood still. I could do the least considering the politics and had to keep quiet. My intention is not to demean the system I worked with for so long, nor am I taking that power to exhibit their flaws, as I am no longer in academics. My only concern here is what measures, values, or principles were considered? Who was involved in this meeting, and why did everybody have to listen to the authority blindly, and what power does the superior have to say that what he/she feels is right? Why was there no transparency? Why was there no involvement of any student and their inputs, without which you cannot provide student-centric education? Is it not about students? Everything in education is about students.
All that drops down, all the complexities have to be broken down to the level where the students feel comfortable in asking and understanding what they have learned will fetch them value. If I say education is not business, then it will be too much from my side because it is. One cannot deny that fact. But when industries and big organizations can deliver customer-centric value by involving their stakeholders, then why is the education sector lagging behind?
With this, I want to talk about how agility, when implemented in classrooms and in education, can drive that value to students.
I am sure whoever is in the field of education understands what student-centered learning is. If I can re-iterate and simplify, then student-centered learning is an approach where a learning system is developed by keeping the interests or needs of the students as a prime. Just like, we develop and deliver a product by keeping the clients requirements as a primary objective. In this approach, the teacher takes on the role of facilitator and guides students to learn at their own pace and in their own way, using a variety of resources and tools. Student-centered learning emphasizes collaboration, critical thinking, problem-solving, and other skills that are essential for success in the modern world. The goal of student-centered learning is to help students become lifelong learners who are motivated, engaged, and able to take ownership of their learning.
And this is exactly why Agile technology comes in handy as this also emphasizes what student-centered learning emphasizes.
In recent years, the use of Agile Technology in education has become increasingly popular due to its ability to transform student-centered learning. Agile Technology is an iterative and incremental approach to project management that emphasizes continuous improvement and flexibility. It has been widely adopted in industries such as software development, but its applications in education are relatively new.
Why traditional methods or tools don’t work for student-centric learning
The traditional methods of teaching have been around for centuries, but with the advent of technology, there is a growing need for a more adaptive and flexible learning environment. In traditional methods, teachers often follow a rigid curriculum, and students are expected to keep pace with the class, regardless of their individual learning style or pace. This can lead to disengagement, boredom, and a lack of interest in the subject matter.
To address these issues, a student-centered learning approach is needed, which focuses on the individual needs and learning styles of students. This is where Agile Technology comes in, as it enables teachers to create a more personalized learning experience that can adapt to the needs of each student.
Traditional teaching methods often rely on rote memorization and lecture-based learning, which can be challenging for students who need hands-on, interactive learning experiences. The flipped classroom model, which is a form of blended learning, is one approach that is gaining popularity. This model allows students to learn at their own pace, with the help of technology-based resources, and then come to class ready to apply what they have learned through group activities and discussions.
Furthermore, Agile Technology supports continuous improvement and iterative development, which means that educators can make changes to their teaching methods and adjust their curriculum based on feedback from students. This promotes a more collaborative learning environment, where students are engaged and feel empowered to take control of their own learning.
How Agile Technology is Transforming Student-Centered Learning
Who doesn’t know the popular four principles of the Agile Manifesto? They are a set of values and principles that guide software development processes. The four principles of the Agile Manifesto were initially created to guide software development processes, but they have also been transformed into educational values that promote student-centered learning and continuous improvement. One of the leading figures in this transformation is Steve Peha, the founder of Teaching that Makes Sense. Peha is a well-known education consultant who has been instrumental in the creation of the Agile Schools Manifesto.
Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
By focusing on individuals and interactions, educators prioritize student engagement and collaboration over rigid processes and tools.
Working educational outcomes over comprehensive documentation
By valuing working educational outcomes over comprehensive documentation, educators focus on delivering tangible learning outcomes rather than focusing on documenting every step of the process.
Collaborative learning over following a plan
Furthermore, Agile in Education emphasizes collaborative learning over following a plan. This principle encourages educators to create flexible and adaptable lesson plans that can be adjusted to meet the needs of individual students or groups.
Responding to change over following a strict curriculum
Finally, the principle of responding to change over following a strict curriculum encourages educators to be adaptable and responsive to changing circumstances, such as new technology or changes in student needs.
Agile in Education has provided training and resources to schools and educators across the globe to implement these principles in their classrooms.
The Benefits of Implementing Agile Education Models
Agile education models are based on the Agile methodology used in software development and other industries. They emphasize collaboration, iteration, and continuous improvement. Some of the benefits of implementing Agile education models in the classroom include:
- Improved student engagement and learning outcomes: Agile education models prioritize the needs and interests of students, which can increase their engagement and motivation to learn. By involving students in the process of creating their own learning goals and choosing the methods and tools to achieve them, Agile education models can help students take ownership of their education and develop skills that are relevant to their future careers.
- Enhanced collaboration and cross-functional teams: Agile education models promote teamwork and collaboration, which can help students develop interpersonal skills and work effectively with others. In Agile classrooms, students often work in cross-functional teams to complete projects and solve problems, which can help them develop a broad range of skills and perspectives.
- Increased adaptability and flexibility: Agile education models are designed to be flexible and adaptable to changing circumstances. This means that teachers and students can adjust their plans and priorities based on feedback and new information, which can lead to more effective and efficient learning.
Improving Educational Value through Agile Technology
By implementing Agile education models, educators can improve the educational value of their courses. Agile education models are designed to improve student engagement and learning outcomes. They enable teachers to create a more collaborative and cross-functional team environment, which can lead to enhanced student engagement and better learning outcomes.
Project Based Learning
For instance, Project-Based Learning (PBL) is an Agile education model that emphasizes collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking. In PBL, students work on real-world projects that are relevant to their lives, which helps them to develop a deeper understanding of the subject matter. This approach also fosters a sense of ownership and responsibility, which can enhance student engagement.
Furthermore, Agile Technology enables educators to gather feedback from students on a continuous basis. This feedback can be used to make improvements in the course content, teaching methods, and student engagement. By continuously improving the course content, teachers can enhance the educational value of their courses.
Challenges and Best Practices for Implementing Agile Education Models
While Agile Technology has many benefits for education, it also comes with its own set of challenges. One of the biggest challenges is resistance to change from teachers and administrators who are used to traditional teaching methods. Additionally, implementing Agile Technology requires a significant investment in time, resources, and infrastructure.
To ensure successful implementation, it’s important to follow best practices such as creating cross-functional teams with diverse expertise, using iterative development to make continuous improvements, and establishing clear communication channels between all stakeholders. Teachers also need to receive proper training on Agile principles and techniques to effectively implement them in the classroom.
By overcoming these challenges and following best practices, schools and educators can successfully implement Agile Technology to improve student-centered learning, collaboration, and overall educational value.
In conclusion, Agile Technology has the potential to revolutionize education by providing a more adaptive, flexible, and student-centered learning environment. Through Agile education models, schools and educators can improve student engagement, collaboration, and learning outcomes. However, implementing Agile Technology requires overcoming challenges such as resistance to change and the need for proper training and resources.