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Scrum in Education— An Option for the Future

19 Mar 2020

Our education system struggles to keep up the pace with the rapid evolution and transformation of the world around us.  It inevitably fails to equip us with all the tools necessary to tackle the complex problems and challenges arising from it. 

Well, the good news is there might be a solution that comes from a somewhat unexpected place. 

This being VivifyScrum blog, you have probably figured out the name of the solution - Scrum.

Well, Scrum effectively turns many established concepts of education on their head. It dares us to rethink our ways and do a better job at one of the most vital tasks shaping society. 

Sowing the Seeds of Success 

Many people overlook Scrum is a very flexible methodology. Those that don’t overlook this fact have done some great strides towards applying the framework to different fields, education included. 

We’re only taking baby steps for now, but that’s how things always go for Scrum. Right at its core is the commitment to constant, insight-fueled improvement. 

Indeed, the Scrum framework puts a strong emphasis on problem-solving aptitude. Progression comes through trial and error of learning and a daily grind.

This mindset boosts the ability to respond to change over sticking to preset plans. In a business environment, such an approach makes a lot of sense, but it also does in the world at large, which is shifting at a breakneck pace. 

We have no way of knowing everything or predicting the outcome in advance. What we can do is focus on making one correct step after the other, a sequence of activities that add up over time. 

On the Same Page

Scrum helps us grasp the full value of teamwork and collaboration between all stakeholders. 

The basic structural units in Scrum are self-organized and autonomous teams. They uphold the values of transparency and open communication, which act as a glue holding the organization together. 

When translated to the realm of education this means one thing. Students and teachers have a chance to strike real partnerships and work hand in hand toward common goals, approach the learning process more cooperatively. 

For instance, teachers ought to act as servants-leaders, supporting students every step of the way. The mainstays of this support are constant feedback, coaching, and guidance, not strict control and grading. These processes strengthen the bonds between peers, as well as students and teachers.

Namely, Scrum itself plays out like a series of iterations that involve feedback loops. Events like Sprint Reviews are where the bulk of discussion takes place.  Students can do the same, demoing and exhibiting their outcome and getting more feedback. 

They are invited to embrace responsibility and take ownership of the work. They become adept at hitting strict deadlines and keeping projects on track despite hurdles. This is something that requires a certain degree of self-confidence and can work miracles for them later in life. 

Scrum-like education should, in particular, pay dividends later when students enter internships and job positions. 

From Theory to Practice 

Let’s examine how this could work out in more specific, practical terms. 

Students are working toward something concrete instead of abstract grades. For example, Scrum-like learning should always include a final demonstration. It can take the form of a report, test, live presentation, assessment, film, etc.

The totality of work is split in short Sprint cycles that are supposed to produce a learning project increment. The length of the Sprint can vary, although it’s a good idea to aim for one or two weeks (four at the most).

After each Sprint, the group comes together to have an open conversation and come up with an intermediate. Based on this input, the teachers provide feedback. 

There can be other events and meetings, which revolve around monitoring progress, meeting deadlines, and ensuring (and improving) quality.  

Tools of the Trade 

Note that essential tools such as Scrum Boards come in handy too. 

They bring structure to learning and provide key insights to all parties. Everyone can instantly see activities and their progress status (to do, in progress, and done).

Thus, Scrum Boards should be used across Sprints. Teachers can also replicate the Product Backlog and User Stories, should they find such tools supportive of learning goals. Also, digital collaboration platforms can help overcome challenges such as students not sharing the same classroom or location. 

The bottom line is this. 

Scrum encourages individuals and teams to embark on a journey of constant learning and growth. They come across new insights and integrate them into their learning. This is a great way to ignite curiosity and sense of discovery in students, while also letting them think outside the box. 

Ultimately, we can all derive more pleasure, fun, and value from learning. That’s what you call a true win-win! 

Breathing New Life into Education 

Scrum can act as scaffolding for the brave new construction project for education. 

This type of education is deeper, practical, and more meaningful. Both students and teachers stand to benefit a lot from implementation. 

One of the main value propositions is teaching students how to take on the problems head-on and find strength in unity through it.  They gain a clear idea and an overview of the learning goals and paths they can take to reach those goals.

Of course, to make it all work, we all need to champion teamwork, transparency, adaptability, and collaboration. Students must have a voice and space to showcase their hard work frequently.  This is the only way to stimulate consistent growth and personal development.

And the beauty of Scrum adoption is institutions can start small, with a low-scale project and then expand the Scrum framework to encompass more people and activities.