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The Agile Teaching/Learning Methodology

by Dr. Andy Chun

ATLM is well-defined and systematic approach to teaching/learning that is based on Agile Methodologies , a collection of popular approaches to software development in the modern world.

A well-defined methodology for software development is of course very important. This is especially true for modern software development, where requirements and technologies are constantly changing. The ability to quickly adapt and respond to changes to satisfy customer needs is what makes agile methodologies interesting.

It turns out the software development process, in many ways, is similar to the teaching process. It involves multiple parties with different objectives (sometimes conflicting), a very tight schedule to get things done, a fixed deadline, limited resources and a lot of expected/unexpected changes along the way. The process requires detailed planning/scheduling, tracking and management with continuous assessment and feedback from all parties. Getting a software project done correctly and on time is not easy. Making a sure a course is taught properly and on schedule can also be a challenge sometimes.

The design of ATLM was inspired in many ways by these modern agile methodologies for software development.

Key Characteristics

Iterative Teaching/Learning Cycles

ATLM is an iterative methodology. This means the cycles of the methodology are performed over and over again in iterations; each iteration may progressively have slight variations. For teaching, each iteration is usually one week. In ATLM, since we are dealing with both teaching and learning, there are two cycles that operate in parallel in each iteration - one for the teacher and one for the student:

ATLM Architecture

The Teaching Cycle (on the left of the diagram) is for the teacher to follow, while the Learning Cycle (on the right) is for students. The Teaching Cycle consists of:

All these three steps are done during each Teaching Cycle. For the Learning Cycle, we have in addition:

Teaching/Learning Best Practices

There are numerous teaching/learning best practices that should be practiced within a class. However, ATLM particularly promotes and emphasizes the following best practices as part of the methodology:

Use of Technology

Since I teach Computer Science, I leverage on some of the newest software technologies to help streamline the teaching and learning processes. Besides the traditional forums and blackboards, I use:

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Last modified: Thursday, 28-Apr-2005 16:54:27 HKT