Agile Learning: An Extended Holistic Approach

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What does “agile” mean for learning? 

The word ‘agile’ is used excessively and often incorrectly equated with ‘flexible.’ Agile comes from the field of software development and stands for a process-oriented approach to work. Agile working methods are now used in numerous industries to achieve faster results, increase flexibility, and be able to more specifically respond to the customer. The main assumption of both agile working and agile learning is that the environment is constantly changing, and rapid adaptability guarantees success. Agility should help with better cross-functional collaboration, creating more transparency and cooperation with communication, and increasing both productivity and motivation through added responsibility. Testing, learning, and adapting are the important learning triad, which in many cases occur during collaboration with others (social learning). 

Studies confirm: People working in teams innovate faster, achieve better results, and report higher satisfaction. Companies that promote workplace collaboration are five times more likely to be high performing and more profitable. Companies rely on social capital. We are by nature social beings! 

However, teams are under pressure to move faster than ever before. The highest-performing teams are different; little in their work resembles what they have done in the past. Their days are filled with an endless exchange of information and ideas that work in rapid cycles of iteration. Their tasks are interdependent from one another and their projects fluid. 

This requires a smart working and learning environment that aims to support the learner as efficiently as possible, so that they can improve their performance. Taking a holistic view of the complex human system includes the possibility of carrying out regular movement during process-oriented work. Most people still regard thought processes as an abstract ability detached from the body – that our mind has little to do with the mechanically functioning organism. However, more and more researchers are now questioning this belief. After all, we humans are a highly complex system, in which physical, mental, and psychological interaction functions are constantly shaped and influenced by environmental stimuli. As studies by psychologists and neuroscientists show, physical processes (the term movement in regard to physical activity will also be used synonymously in the following explanations) influence thinking much more strongly than previously assumed.

Download the full paper here.