I recently learned about using agile management in a typical work environment where team work is done in sprints even when it’s not software. If you don’t know what agile is, you can read up on it here.
I was thinking the other day that applying agile development to homework would provide for an interesting situation. I think one of the things agile development tries to eliminate is long-term procrastination. Instead of waiting for a long time for a project to be completed, where usually most of the work will occur closer to the deadline, agile sprints shorten the deadlines so useful “widgets” will be completed sooner. I think sprints make the workload look something like below:
Now the same sort of procrastination occurs in school, especially college. The professor assigns you a term paper that is due the last day of classes and you pull an all-nighter the night before despite the fact you had all semester to work on it. Now what if you applied agile to the term paper. I will show two different examples depending on the way you’d apply agile.
In sprint 1 you’d be required to submit an outline of the paper which would just show the paragraphs you’d have. In sprint 2, you’d have to add bullets to those paragraphs in the outline. Sprint 3 would be making those bullets into sentences. Sprint 4 could be making the paragraphs into complete paragraphs. Finally, the last sprint would be the completed term paper.
In sprint 1, you’d complete the intro paragraph. Sprint 2 complete 1st paragraph. Sprint 3 complete 2nd paragraph. Sprint 4 complete 3rd paragraph. Sprint 5 complete closing paragraph.
Some professors essentially already create two sprints: the outline and final paper, or three sprints: the outline, draft, and final paper. However, if this methodology was applied to all homework, imagine how different college would be. Let’s look at math homework due in 7 days with sprint durations of 1 day with 3 parts.
Sprint 1: Determine formulas to use for all homework
Sprint 2: Complete part 1
Sprint 3: Complete part 2
Sprint 4: Complete part 3
Sprint 5: Review homework to check for errors (quality assurance)
Sprint 6: Visit office hours to check over completed homework
Sprint 7: Make changes and turn in completed homework
This is just a concept, but applying agile methodologies to complete homework might produce better “throughput” in terms of homework completion with fewer late nights at the conclusion of the semester.
Interesting article for reducing interruptions in agile sprints: http://www.agileadvice.com/2012/01/08/scrumxplean/seven-options-for-handling-interruptions-in-scrum-and-other-agile-methods/