We’ve known for decades that we need to keep learning throughout our careers. See the lifelong learning movement, for example. But either creating or doing a course is too big an overhead for many learning needs.
Since the web arrived, we’ve grown to use it as a just-in-time performance support system. As Dick Moore put it, “every Google query is a piece of shallow Agile Learning.” And the ecosystem of the web has responded to this with growing sophistication in the resources and tools it provides — often free or near-free — to support learning.
Agile Learning recognises that this shift is accelerating, driven by a sudden fall in the funds available for bespoke learning infrastructure. At least that’s how it looks from the UK, where we’ve seen the demise of the agency promoting technology in education, the Building Schools for the Future programme has been scrapped, and the decimation of the Harnessing Technology grants for schools. Training budgets in the private sector are being slashed amid poor Learning & Development impact. In the developing world, meanwhile, many who have never had access to learning infrastructure and institutions have a real prospect of cheap learning devices and mobile learning coming within reach.
So here’s another stab at definining what Agile Learning is about (to add to my earlier efforts): it’s how you learn when you don’t have a heavyweight institutional and technological infrastructure, and a large teaching staff, to support you.
Agile Learning is what you do when you have to ‘make do’. We don’t have a lot of evidence yet — the Hole in the Wall examples being the most inspirational recently — but I’m playing my hunch that, as and when we get good at ‘making do’, we may just find it’s more fun, more flexible, and more cost-effective, than the old heavyweight institutional approaches.
- If you don’t have a building, a stock of textbooks and all the other trimmings, you might try some Agile Learning techniques.
- If you’re wanting to pilot something in a corporate environment, and can’t justify using a full-scale Virtual Learning Environment, there should be an agile solution.
- If you’ve got a group of peers — whether entrepreneurs or hobbyists — Agile Learning can help you exploit resources online, and in your group, to pull yourselves up by your bootstraps.
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