Agile Learning Definition

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What is is agile learning?

Agile learning is a response to a set of circumstances common across many forms of learning in all sectors. Budgets are tight but, for anyone with a broadband internet connection, there's an abundance of opportunities to learn. The range of open resources for learning and tools for self-organising with other learners now make it viable to create low-cost, flexible learning experiences across an ever-widening range of contexts.

Agile learning can involve a range of pragmatic steps, rooted in the challenges of achieving a lot with a limited funds. As such, it isn't really one thing; it's an attempt to bring together lots of things that might help learning become more agile. There is no manifesto, no commitment to a particular form of pedagogy or technology. If it's learning, and it's agile, then it's agile learning. That said, there are a few core principles that lend themselves to agility, and which most cases of agile learning share to some degree.

  1. Open -- Silos are expensive to build and maintain. The materials in them can be hard to find and hard to use in new contexts. By contrast, the learning materials that are developed as Open Educational Resources (OERs) or Open CourseWare (OCW), and the materials that are freely available on blogs, wikis and other websites, lend themselves much more easily to agile learning experiences.
  2. Embedded in everything -- For learning to be agile, you should be able to do it almost anywhere, and without serious interruption to the rest of your affairs. Broadband access to the Internet, mobile connectivity and everyday objects with built-in learning resources help make this possible. While the digital divide will still be with us for some time to come, access is slowly reaching all areas. With open materials and open technology, you can learn wherever you have Internet access. More generally, everything at hand -- including non-digital resources and those not designed with learning in mind -- is seen as a potential spark for conversation or enquiry that could lead to learning, focusing on the assets rather than scarcities in the environment.
  3. Collective -- Learning becomes more agile as learners have the power to direct and drive their own learning. Internet access brings a range of tools for finding, organising and creating with people who share the same learning goals, thus making peer learning much easier. This doesn't mean that teachers have less value, but frees up teachers to focus on how they can nurture and augment emergent learning behaviours in a group or network.
  4. Flexibility and flow -- Learning is agile if there is scope for improvising and adapting the learning experience as it unfolds. If learning is like a train, with a fixed destination and limited opportunities for getting on or off, it cannot be as flexible as if it is like a cycling expedition where everyone adapts to each other's direction and speed, while retaining the option to go off on their own. Sometimes cycling is faster than going by train.
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