Agile Methods

Is Agile a method or a family of methods? Is it a philosophy, a collection of guidelines, or a defined set of practices and rules? Yes.

Between 1995 and 2001, the software world erupted with new “lightweight” methods of product development, so-called because the method of managing the project didn’t weigh down the project itself with ridiculous degrees of what many developers referred to as “Dilbertesque” micromanagement.

The most famous of these was Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland's Scrum, but there was also Crystal Clear, Extreme Programming, Adaptive Software Development, Feature Driven Development, and Dynamic Systems Development Method. Scrum's enduring popularity has probably only been matched by Kent Beck’s Extreme Programming.

Eventually, the popularity and increased use of lightweight empirical models coalesced into a single unified movement. In February of 2001, 17 leaders in the lightweight methodology movement met to find common ground. Their discussions resulted in the beginning of Agile software development and the creation of the Agile Alliance. The Alliance was formalized with the writing of The Agile Manifesto and the The Twelve Principles of Agile Software Development.

Two methods are clearly gathered together under the Agile family banner:

  • Scrum. Perhaps the most popular approach to product development and project management, Scrum was developed in the mid-90s by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland.
  • Extreme Programming. XP as most people call it was created by Kent Beck in 1999. XP is a formal approach designed specifically for software development but has many useful concepts that are easily applied to education.

Two other approaches also contribute interesting ideas to our work:

  • Kanban. Kanban, which literally means "signboard" or "billboard", is a scheduling system that tells you what to produce, when to produce it, and how much to produce.
  • Lean. is a production practice that considers the expenditure of resources for any goal other than the creation of value for the end customer to be wasteful, and thus a candidate for elimination.

Agile is really a family of approaches, all proven, all in broad use throughout the world today. Their unifying theme is that they all help people get more things done in less time, with less resources, with a more humane work environment, and with greater value for the customer.

Using the Agile Manifesto and the Twelve Principles as a a guide, we can take the best, and most appropriate, of what these and future Agile methods have to offer and use it to help schools, teachers, kids, and families.


Add your feedback below. To keep track of who is saying what, use an H1 tag (a plus sign "+" in the edit window) to identify yourself. For example:

Steve Peha

When I first began thinking about applying Agile to education, I was hung up on the question, "What is Agile?" Then I realized how silly that was. Agile is itself "agile" in the sense that it is not one static thing for all time but a collection of things constantly evolving in response to changing circumstances.

Perhaps the simplest and clearest statement of what Agile is can be found in the Manifesto. The simple ideas stated there endure and will, I think, always represent a useful starting point.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License