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  • Writer's pictureMichele Neuland

Agile Learning in the 21st Century: What it is & how it connects to self-organised learning

In a constantly evolving and changing world, lifelong learning is becoming an indispensable skill. In this blog post, we will look at the concept of agile learning, discuss its relevance in today's world, and find out how it relates to self-organized learning.

What is agile learning?

Agile learning is a learning approach strongly inspired by the principles of the Agile Manifesto. It is based on flexibility, adaptability, and continuous improvement. At its core, it is about designing learning processes to meet the rapidly changing demands of our time.

A central aspect of agile learning is dividing learning content into smaller, manageable units called "sprints". These sprints allow learners to learn in short, intensive phases and then reflect on and adapt their knowledge. Feedback and adjustments are crucial elements of agile learning.

Unlike traditional learning methods, which are often linear and hierarchically structured, agile learning emphasizes learners' self-organization, collaboration, and adaptability. It focuses on learners' individual needs and interests and promotes active and autonomous learning.

The characteristics of agile learning include:

  1. Flexibility: Agile learners can adapt their learning to their individual needs, learning speed, and preferences. They can adapt their learning path and re-evaluate their objectives and priorities to meet changing needs.

  2. Self-organization: Agile learners can plan, organize and manage their learning process independently. They set clear objectives, identify the resources they need and actively seek ways to expand their knowledge and skills.

  3. Iterative learning: Agile learners use iterative approaches where they continuously seek feedback and reflect and adapt their learning. They use the cycle of trial and error to deepen their understanding and improve their skills.

  4. Collaboration: Agile learners look for opportunities to collaborate and share with other learners. They use peer learning, mentoring, and collaborative projects to benefit from the experiences and perspectives of others.

  5. Practice orientation: Agile learners value applying their knowledge in real-life situations. They look for opportunities to put what they have learned into practice, solve problems, and try out new skills.

  6. Continuous learning: Agile learners view learning as a continuous process that goes beyond formal education. They recognize the importance of informal learning, self-study, experiential learning, and lifelong learning.

Agile learning can be applied in different areas and contexts, be it in professional settings, personal development, or education. It enables learners to adapt to the demands of a dynamic and complex world and continuously expand their skills and knowledge.

Why is agile learning important today?

  • Rapid change: The business world and technology are evolving rapidly. To stay competitive, individuals and organizations need to be able to adapt and learn new skills quickly.

  • Individualization: Everyone learns at different speeds and in different ways. Agile learning makes it possible to meet individual needs and create tailored learning pathways.

  • Continuous improvement: Agile learning promotes continuous improvement of skills and knowledge. This is crucial to be successful professionally and to grow personally.

  • Problem orientation: Instead of only acquiring theoretical knowledge, agile learning emphasizes the practical application of knowledge to solve real-world problems.

What are the advantages of agile learning?

Agile learning offers several advantages that make it an effective and efficient learning method. Here are some of the most important advantages:

  1. Adaptability: Agile learning approaches allow learners to respond flexibly to change. The learning process can be adapted to new requirements, technologies, or circumstances to deliver relevant and up-to-date content.

  2. Efficiency: Through iterative learning cycles, agile learning can enable efficient use of resources. It allows focus on the content or skills that are most relevant to learners and eliminates redundant or outdated content.

  3. Better understanding: Agile learning methods emphasize the practical application of what is learned. Continuous feedback and the opportunity to immediately apply what has been learned to develop a deeper understanding of the material.

  4. Motivation: Agile learning approaches promote the intrinsic motivation of learners. By actively participating in the learning process and being able to track their progress, motivation, and commitment to learning increases.

  5. Collaboration and teamwork: Agile learning methods emphasize collaboration and exchange between learners. This not only promotes knowledge sharing but also enables learning from each other and the development of social skills.

  6. Rapid feedback: Agile learning approaches include regular feedback loops where learners can check their understanding and make improvements. This allows mistakes to be identified and corrected early on, leading to faster learning.

  7. Fostering creativity and innovation: Agile learning methods encourage learners to think creatively and develop innovative solutions. By focusing on problem-solving and experimentation, learners are encouraged to develop and try out new ideas.

These benefits make agile learning an attractive option for individuals and organizations that want adaptable and effective learning strategies to keep up with the challenges of a rapidly changing world.

What does self-organized learning have to do with agile learning?

Self-organized learning refers to an approach to learning in which individuals take responsibility for their learning process. It is an autonomous and self-directed approach where learners set their own learning goals, plans their learning activities, and monitor their progress.

In self-organized learning, the focus is on learners' autonomy and self-determination. They have the freedom to choose the learning content, methods, and resources that best suit their individual needs and learning styles.

Self-organized learning and agile learning complement each other ideally. Both approaches emphasize learner ownership. In self-organized learning, learners decide for themselves what, when, and how they want to learn. In agile learning, they can use this freedom to plan and adapt their learning sprints themselves.

Furthermore, self-organised learning promotes the ability to self-reflect, which plays an important role in agile learning. Learners can review what they have learned, how they can apply it, and what adjustments are necessary.

In today's world of lifelong learning, both agile learning and self-organised learning are crucial. The ability to adapt, learn quickly, and continuously improve are key skills that not only enable professional success but also personal fulfillment. Combining these two approaches can help develop and use these competencies effectively.

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