I am in the process of overseeing the development of an online course for my high school. The development process is very slow going which has encouraged me to think about ways to improve the process. 


I have had some exposure to the principles of Agile software development which values breaking a large project into small chunks and embracing change rather than documentation. I wrote a more detailed explanation of Agile development and its potential application to curriculum development on my blog


I would be interested in hearing from those of you who have experience or training in curriculum development. Do you think that this method of development could be applied to curriculum development? The benefits would be decreased development time and a reduction in costs. 

Tags: agile, curriculum, development, learning, online

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I appreciated your agile curriculum development manifesto and shared with my team for their feedback.  We are an adult education curriculum development team that just recently migrated to an agile curriculum development methodology.  As you may have realized, this is a fairly new concept and there isn't a lot of literature out there on it. 


Initially several team members were very resistant and we had to "tweak" the process to fit the curriculum design and development process, but the return as been well worth it.  Some strict habits that have been of great value:

  • Maintaining a backlog and tracking it tightly
  • Using some of Piskurich's (2006) rapid instructional design techniques - which is different from but complementary to agile
  • Conducting weekly sprint meetings
  • Defining our sprints based on workloads outside of the agile project and sprint products
  • Using a shared tool to track our progress

We also have daily scrum meetings, but to a varying degree of success.  Most of us think the scrum currently has too broad an audience and needs to be more tightly defined to just the project teams, then have additional meetings to engage senior leadership.  Some benefits we have realized:

  • Certainly the time and cost savings
  • Ability to employ a matrixed organizational structure
  • Ability to keep team members at optimal productivity rates
  • Shared resources and efforts
  • Ability to identify "weak" areas before they become crisis areas

Finally, we use an earned value management on our projects, which aligns nicely with Agile.  Each week during our sprint status meetings we can track actual completion rates to expected completion rates.  As I said, many of us were leery of trying this methodology, but now that we have formed habits around it, I can't imagine developing curriculum any other way.  I look forward to reading more on this discussion!

--Louisa Schaefer



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