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Agile learning

Agile learning

Table of Contents

    Are you tired of slow and outdated learning practices? It may be time to explore the agile methodology. While originally associated with the tech industry, agile learning is transforming the way Learning and Development (L&D) professionals deliver employee training. And the results speak for themselves–faster, more effective learning experiences.

    So, it’s time to warm up because we’re going to sprint through:

    • What agile learning is
    • The difference between agile learning and learning agility 
    • How agile learning is different from the ADDIE model 
    • Ways to implement agile learning in your organization 

    Ready, set, go! 


    What is agile learning?

    Agile learning is an approach to training development that emphasizes speed, flexibility, and collaboration. 

    As a method of project management, agile learning came from lean manufacturing and software development. Kanban boards are a well-known example of agile development, where you visualize tasks to track them more easily. 

    Another example is Scrum, a system where employees complete tasks in short sprints and participate in daily stand-up meetings.

    Agile learning brings agile processes and principles to education and learning content creation. This enables instructional designers to complete projects in short work cycles where requirements evolve as the project unfolds.

    There are significant benefits of agile learning, including:

    • Accessibility: Allowing learners to learn at any time and anywhere. 
    • Adaptability: Helping employees prepare for rapid changes present in today’s business environments.
    • Communication: Enabling trainees to ask questions and creating feedback loops that improve overall learning quality. 

    With agile learning, L&D teams can respond quickly to the learning needs of a company. This is thanks to the iterative “fail fast” mindset that increases speed without sacrificing quality. 

    Up next, we’ll explore how agile learning differs from learning agility


    What’s the difference between agile learning and learning agility?

    Agile learning and learning agility may sound pretty similar, but they’re actually quite different. So what’s the difference? Agile learning is an approach to Learning Experience Design (LXD) while learning agility is a learner trait.

    Let’s dig a little deeper.

    Learning agility is a learner’s ability to adapt to new situations by applying existing knowledge. Learners with high levels of learning agility are typically high performers and strong leaders. There are connections between high learning agility and personality traits such as openness to new experiences, conscientiousness, and agreeableness.

    On the other hand, agile learning is an approach to learning experience development and Instructional Design (ID). It draws inspiration from agile development in the IT and manufacturing industries and applies it to learning. 

    Learning stakeholders in an organization use this approach to promote speed, flexibility, and collaboration in their learning environments. 

    So, in short: 

    • Learning agility is a learner trait that lets them use their previous knowledge to deal with new situations. 
    • Agile learning is an approach to learning content development that lets organizations create learning experiences quickly without sacrificing quality. 

    Up next, we’ll take a look at how agile learning is different from the famous ADDIE model of learning design.


    What’s the difference between agile learning and the ADDIE model?

    The main difference between agile learning and the ADDIE model is that agile learning is much faster and more flexible than the traditional ADDIE framework (aka waterfall methodology). 

    The ADDIE model is a linear process with five stages of development—Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation. 

    Your L&D team starts with Analysis and slowly works through all the phases, up to the Evaluation stage, when the team members evaluate the effectiveness of the finished training course. 

    In contrast, agile learning development is faster, more flexible, and more collaborative. L&D teams work in two-week sprints to quickly create and iterate versions of the product, incorporating feedback and evaluation at every stage.

    Agile learning isn’t just a faster way to create training, it has other benefits too. Since L&D teams don’t have to follow a linear design plan, it’s a more flexible approach. Each sprint is an opportunity to tweak the product based on evaluation and feedback. 

    Agile learning promotes collaboration as well. The scrum team meets every day for short “stand-up” meetings where they describe what they did the previous day and what they plan to be working on that day. They then work together to identify and remove bottlenecks in the product development process.

    Agile practices are also more transparent. Evaluations happen at the end of every sprint, so stakeholders in the company can discover any roadblocks or shortcomings much more quickly. 

    Because of the speed, collaboration, flexibility, and transparency, agile learning works great with e-learning. It lets agile teams design and iterate quickly to follow the changing training needs of their company.

    So, how do you implement an agile learning culture in your organization? Find out in the next section.


    Four ways to implement agile learning in organizations

    Are you ready to bring the benefits of agile learning to your organization? 

    We’ve rounded up some actionable tips on how to get started.

    And don’t worry—you don’t have to become a Scrum master overnight to make it happen!


    #1: Support partner training

    For a truly effective agile learning culture, every level of your organization needs to embrace it. Stakeholders included. 

    This means your agile learning strategy should give your partners, resellers, distributors, and anyone else involved in your business access to continuous learning.  

    How can you provide agile partner training? Microlearning is a great option. As your product evolves, so should your product training. Microlearning is fast to produce and consume, making it easy for your sales enablement team to keep partner training content up-to-date. 

    The bottom line is that you should include all stakeholders. Each of them will have some relevant feedback on the learning content, making each iteration better.


    #2: Aim for professional development

    Did you know that 94% of employees say they’d stay at a company longer if it gave more professional development opportunities?

    In today’s fast-moving job market, agile learning empowers organizations to keep their workforce up-to-date.

    With agile learning, your L&D team (or whoever owns L&D in your company) can produce timely and relevant training. 

    This leads to engaged and satisfied employees. 

    But fostering an agile learning culture isn’t just about course development. It also promotes fast, flexible, and collaborative learning methods like peer learning, social learning, and informal learning.


    #3: Encourage blended learning

    Agile learning needs to be continuous. That’s a little hard to accomplish if L&D in your company is face-to-face only.

    Don’t get us wrong; we’re not knocking in-person training at all. 

    While face-to-face instruction is valuable, it isn’t always the best fit for continuous learning. That’s why blended learning is the key to unlocking the full potential of agile learning.

    Blended learning combines in-person training and e-learning to give learners the best of both worlds.

    You cover the subjects that need the human touch in person and promote continuous learning by delivering online modules via your Learning Management System (LMS).

    Flipped classrooms are a popular blended learning approach. Learners cover the theoretical parts with self-paced online modules via an LMS. Then, they use the face-to-face time to discuss and work on practical assignments. 

    In short, applying blended learning is an ideal way to promote continuous, agile learning in your organization.


    #4: Choose the right LMS

    Are you looking for a way to power up agile learning design in your organization? An LMS is the way to go.

    A robust LMS lets you deliver different types of training depending on your needs. Some platforms come with in-built authoring tools, so you both create and deliver learning modules through the same platform. This saves L&D teams precious time and shortens development cycles. 

    Not all LMSs are made equal, so choose a vendor that aligns with your agile learning design strategy. Does the LMS support microlearning content? What about social learning? 

    An LMS is the backbone of any agile learning strategy. It’s how your organization will deliver timely, engaging, and continuous training that garners results. So, do your homework.

    Up next, we’ll sum up everything about agile learning.


    Now over to you

    Everything in business today moves fast, so L&D has to keep up. 

    Agile learning is a way to design and conduct learning and training programs that focus on speed, flexibility, and collaboration. 

    While the Agile Manifesto originated in the IT industry, companies across all industries now use it to develop products quickly without sacrificing quality.

    A powerful LMS sits at the heart of any agile learning culture. It allows organizations to deliver timely, engaging, and continuous training at scale, and track the results. This leads to a more engaged, productive, and efficient workforce.

    Want to continue your learning streak? Head to our glossary for more resources on L&D.