Practicing Agile in Curriculum Design

Scott Marsee, my lead instructional designer, and I were fortunate in our networking at the ASTD 2012 conference this past January with our introduction to Dr. Steven Villachica, a tenured associate professor at Boise State University’s School of Engineering. He is currently teaching an advanced instructional design course for master level students, and when he heard of our successful agile curriculum design techniques, asked if we would present a webinar to his students. This was a wonderful opportunity to get our success story out as the webinar would also posted in their public repository, and an honor to be case studied by the students.

Something that I find very valuable with presenting my experiences is the questions. I want the questions to challenge my thinking, which they did. Another thing occurred too though. Some things we do as a matter of practicality for our circumstances but remain almost subconscious. Exposing our experiences to diverse audiences brings out questions that allow us more intentionality in our decisions. Awareness is the first step following by intentionality so that sustainability can be reached. This is something that I am addressing in my dissertation, and am discovering that these links must include interdisciplinary collaboration. After all, it was the Scrum beyond Software open space that Tobias Mayer hosted in 2010 that really brought the design mechanism to fruition for us, as well as the books by Reinersten (2009), Anderson (2010), and Benson & Barry (2011) that honed our development flow. Combining these resources and exposure with our own experience and education for active learning strategies for adult students has given Scott and I a great deal of awareness of lean curriculum development for the modern adult learner along with the tools necessary to make it intentional. Having delivered several degree programs with our design loosely modeled after Scrum and our kanban flow, I believe we have certainly reached a sustainable pace; however, in our continued sharing, I find that we are going full circle with awareness – intentionality – sustainability at a deeper level of our system design and flow.

As we have developed the overall sustainable system, this webinar experience has helped me find new insights for systemic improvement for our curriculum’s focus on problem based learning and personas identification.  Were we aware and intentional before in these areas of problem based learning and persona development? Sustainable? Certainly, but at the normal expectation for any well balanced education focused on adult learners. After the webinar experience, I realized that we have not maximized our intention for problem based learned as much as we are capable. We had already developed an awareness of that, but being in a certain habit of repetition and necessary projects that are distracting, it is easy to forget about developing better intentional plans and future sustainability for an even better level of educational experience. My major takeaway from presenting this webinar with Scott is that we must get out of the ‘work rut’ and talk with others to remind us of the bigger picture, and to not get lost in minutiae so we can take the cycle of awareness – intentionality – sustainability at deeper and deeper levels of continuous improvement.

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About Marian

My passion is centered around ensuring effective learning experiences that improve people's lives. Developing a learning mindset is my ultimate goal whether working with academic programs or corporate training; formal or informal learning practices. It is my belief that our potential for agility is limited only by our capacity for learning.