Kanban for Education - Jasmina Nikolic and Jelena Gledic (#032)

In this session we demonstrate hands-on how Kanban can bring joy to students, their potential future employers, and teachers within and beyond the formal educational setting. While going through steps of the approach we propose, attendees will learn about the results obtained, challenges faced and important questions raised in a project where Kanban was used by teachers and more than 180 students in over 25 Scrum teams to produce articles for Wikipedia, Khan Academy and the Education System as clients.

The presented initiative was launched at the University of Belgrade by four teachers who have a long track of either implementing or supporting disruptive and innovative pedagogy. In line with the set scope of the curriculum, four regular university courses were adapted to include the production of Wikipedia articles through Kanban and Scrum as part of the learning outcome and course requirements. In the determination of key principles, roles and processes to be implemented, we tackled the challenges of marrying the agile nature of Kanban and Scrum and the rigid nature of the university, and of introducing non-traditional stakeholders as clients of the education system. One of the key issues was developing a solid Product Backlog (PB) that would reflect the principles of Kanban and Scrum, meet the waterfall-prone set scope of the education system, lead to a good product that will delight the client, and at the same time be easily used by students. Overall, the implementation of Kanban was very successful. The products delighted the clients, while also giving them the opportunity to work in an agile setting using Kanban to provide feedback and follow the work progress. Students learned new skills and developed those they already had, while finding a new, hands-on joy and sense of ownership in reaching the goal of the learning process.

Finally, we present our results and open the space for discussing the results obtained, challenges faced and question raised. Several important issues raised in our project are presented - e.g. evaluating success within the educational framework and the grading system (the relative value of: speed, rhythm, team-work, number of products, higher-than-required product quality etc.), implementing an iterative process in a scope with fixed content and timelines (one of the teachers did not follow through using Kanban, but rather reverted to the old teaching method), balancing traditional requirements with new skills and intangible knowledge. We hope to provoke interest and encourage the attendees to attack some of the problems posed, while at the same time inviting them to lend us their expertise so that we can improve our initiative in the next iteration.


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