Bubble Agile Teaching – preliminary findings from the team getaway at Lake Starnberg

“Change the world with learning!” – back in 2018, the QualityLearning team set out with this motto to rethink and redefine learning and teaching. In addition to the already established agile learning approach, over time the topic of agile teaching has also increasingly come into focus. In late 2021, some colleagues from the QualityLearning team got together and founded the Bubble Agile Teaching group. A bubble is an open group of people who are invited to contribute to the work and governance done in a particular project or domain when they canSince the group members live in different cities (Nuremberg, Munich, Berlin), they were used to working remotely with each other. With the easing of the Corona restrictions, they welcomed the opportunity to spend two days together and focus on the topic of agile teaching. Therefore, the purpose of their getaway, which took place in March in Bernried at Lake Starnberg, was to get to know each other better in person and further develop the agile teaching approach as well as brainstorm on agile teaching settings and agile learning settings.

Agile teaching and agile learning – a short introduction

Agile teaching is to be understood as a helpful and often necessary addition to QualityMinds’ agile learning approach. While agile learning relates to the learning goals of individuals, agile teaching supports goals that, for example, arise during a training or come up as a consequence of necessary changes in teams or organizations. Basically, externally controlled and deficit-oriented teaching can be understood as a necessary supplement to self-controlled and strength-oriented learning. If, for example, individuals in teams or organizations need support during an agile transformation in the company, it makes sense to use teaching – especially when it comes to a topic that affects many, if not all, individuals in a company.

The Agile Teaching approach – first take-aways from the getaway

Agile teaching is a newly developed approach in which the principles of agility from the field of software development are combined with scientific findings, e.g. from the research on teaching and learning. With the help of different techniques, the values ​​and principles of the Agile Manifesto are taken into account in the best possible way when designing and implementing teaching/learning settings.

Based on this idea, the bubble group members developed the following definition of agile teaching:

Mindset-supporting teaching concept, which, in addition to the content, focuses on the individuality of the learners.

Agile teaching is based on the following four principles:

  • Mindset-supporting concept: the inner attitude of learners to a topic is strengthened.
  • Individuality of the learner in focus: the program is customized and adapted to the learner’s individual needs.
  • Customised and needs-oriented content: the content is created in iterative cycles in close cooperation with the customers.
  • Development and implementation of the teaching/learning concept based on agile principles: enables continuous improvement of the content as well as the structure of the teaching/learning concept.

The aforementioned principles provided a solid initial groundwork for the getaway brainstorming session on the further development of the agile teaching/learning settings.

Similar to the definition above, the development of agile teaching/learning settings is based on the triad of mindset, content and the individual. It follows three steps:

Steps of the development of the agile teaching and learning settingsBasic concept Intermediary conceptDetailed concept
Principles reflected in the conceptMindsetContent meets mindsetIndividuality of the learner
Central question answered by the conceptWhat is the mindset behind it?Who does what, when (and how)? What is the best way to support the individuality of the learner?

The aforementioned steps were already tested during the getaway while developing various agile learning and teaching concepts. We managed to prepare a preliminary draft of the teaching/learning concepts for the consulting and test automation sectors of our company.

Agile teaching – summary

Agile teaching can be applied when goals or topics are brought to a group of individuals from the outside of the organisation. It is a means to support individuals in teams and organizations while dealing with topics that arise, for example, from a need for training or a necessary transformation in everyday work structure. Such transformation usually results from the change of context conditions and can be accelerated by the processes of digitization, automation, globalization, climate change or the pandemics. Teams, organizations or entire companies are increasingly confronted with challenges and the need to adapt to changes. They have to deal with various topics and react accordingly to a given situation. Most teams and organizations today consist of numerous diverse individuals who not only have very heterogeneous prerequisites and expectations, but also cope in various ways with the same challenge – for example, due to their different positions in the company. Agile teaching starts right here and consistently focuses on the individuality of the learners and their needs. Based on a central principle of the Agile Manifesto, one could say: “Learners and their individual needs are more important than the compilation of content”. This is by no means to say that the content is not important. It means, it is more important to know the exact needs and requirements of the individual in order to select suitable content andcreate a needs-based range of learning materials.

I’m looking forward to your feedback and questions! Contact me at maximilian.hoeldl@qualityminds.de or leave your comment below.

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Maximilian Höldl