Using Agile Methods for Course Management and Delivery

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This talk explores the use of agile project management methods in course management. Agile methods were formalized by the software development community to delivery projects in an adaptive and responsive manner. These methods include lean management techniques, such as Kanban. Kanban was originally developed as a scheduling system for just-in-time production and relies on using cards with tasks on them. The agile project movement adapted these methods into a multi-tiered system that uses cards with individual tasks categorized by completion status, such as delayed, doing, and done. Similar needs and problems exist in course management and software development management, and similar management methods may be employed. An agile project system provides an excellent method to organize and manage a course for a busy instructor. This presentation will describe the Kanban methods and tools used by the presenter to organize, produce, and deliver courses to public policy university students.

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Using Agile Methods for Course Management and Delivery

  1. 1. USING AGILE METHODS FOR COURSE MANAGEMENT AND DELIVERY APPAM Spring 2014 Conference 12 April 2014 – e12d2a3f7785 James P. Howard, II School of Public and International Affairs
  2. 2. MOTIVATION
  3. 3. I Teach Here Public Financial Management Graduate-level (MPA) Monday nights 3
  4. 4. I Also Teach Here Introduction to Statistics Undergraduate-level Online 4
  5. 5. PROJECT MANAGEMENT AND AGILE
  6. 6. Why Project Management ◦ Complex and different class types ◦ Very different demands and needs ◦ Manage inputs and outputs ◦ Projects are defined by ◦ Start time ◦ End time ◦ Defined work product 6
  7. 7. About Agile ◦ Iterative and incremental ◦ Complete small portions in each delivery cycle ◦ Agile is an ideology for delivering projects, not a framework ◦ Used heavily in software development and IT environments 7
  8. 8. Some Agile Methodologies ◦ Timeboxing – a fixed amount of time to work in ◦ Refactoring – changing internals without changing externals ◦ Backlogs – an ordered list of requirements 8
  9. 9. KANBAN
  10. 10. What is Kanban? ◦ Developed by Toyota to manage just-in-time production ◦ Uses cards on physical supplies to manage the supply chain ◦ Next order card is sent when current supply set is opened Image by Jean-Baptiste Waldner 10
  11. 11. Kanban in Software Development ◦ Methods were adopted for abstract work ◦ Think software development ◦ Kanban can combine with other agile methods 11
  12. 12. The Kanban Board ◦ Basic board has 3 columns: to do, doing, done ◦ Backlog items move forward as they progress ◦ Backlog items can move backwards, if necessary Image by Jeff.lasovski 12
  13. 13. Kanban in the Classroom ◦ Courses look like projects ◦ There are some dependencies, but not a lot ◦ Weekly- or module-oriented course framework is implicitly timeboxing So let’s kanban this! 13
  14. 14. My Kanban Board 14
  15. 15. A Kanban Board for this Presentation 15
  16. 16. ALTERNATIVE METHODS
  17. 17. Scrum ◦ No manager, but rather a facilitator ◦ Stand-up meetings ◦ Burndown charts showing work left to do ◦ Might be applicable in group-work oriented classes, such as capstones 17
  18. 18. DISCUSSION
  19. 19. Obvious Questions ◦ Isn’t this just putting your todo list on the web? ◦ How do students react to this? ◦ Can this work in a team teaching environment? 19
  20. 20. Conclusions ◦ This can help manage a classroom ◦ It should be completely transparent to the student ◦ It should not interfere with classroom methods 20

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