Agile Classrooms is not Scrum

Agile Classrooms is strongly influenced by Scrum, yet it is not the same. Agile Classrooms evolved from the context of learning in classrooms and schools, which is different than the context of a corporation.

Some key differences between Agile Classrooms and Scrum 2020 are:

  • Agile Classrooms calls the time-box to demonstrate learning and project deliverables the Learning Sprint. Scrum just calls it the Sprint. We do this since Scrum defines the Sprint as producing a valuable and usable product increment by the end. In learning, there is not always a “product” but there is evidence of learning. We call this a “Progress Increment”.
  • Scrum is purely team-based. Agile Classrooms allows for scaffolding collaboration from the individual student to highly collaborative student teams. Agile Classrooms can be applied to individual student learning to team based learning.
  • Scrum requires a cross-functional team. The team has all the skills needed to build a thing. Agile Classrooms, when working as a team, require cross-strength teams, each student bringing a different strength for deeper and supportive learning.
  • Scrum teams are no more than 10 people. Agile Classroom teams are usually 3-5 members.
  • Scrum has an event called the Daily Scrum, in which developers meet every day and coordinate with one another. Instead, Agile Classrooms has a routine called the Check-In since school schedules often do not allow for daily meetings. Also, a teacher may use a check-in independently with students if using it for individual student learning/projects.
  • Agile Classrooms calls each meeting a Self-Directed Learning Routine, or, Routines for short.
  • Each  Self-Directed learning routine can be configured for the right amount of student choice or empowerment. 
  • Agile Classrooms does not have any roles besides Teacher, Learners, and at times, Facilitator.  The level of choice changes these roles over time as the teacher releases more responsibility. In Scrum, the role of Product Owner decides what the team will work on. In Agile Classrooms, the ultimate goal is for students to self-direct their own learning goals. Often, this is done through incrementally shifting responsibility to students over time.
  • Scrum starts with a self-managing team. In an Agile Classroom, the intent is to grow student capacity for work and learning in a self-organizing team. This is grown through using the Spectrums of Choice and Collaboration.
  • A time-bound Sprint is just the default option. Agile Classrooms can customize the Learning Routines to fit their context.
  • Scrum requires the creation of as a usable ‘product increment’ every Sprint. Agile Classrooms requires the demonstration of some learning, anything that can demonstrate progress towards mastery. We call this a ‘progress increment.’ 
  • Scrum is designed to add value to a customer and users in which the beneficiaries of value are outside of the team. Agile Classrooms is about producing valuable learning and skills for students. The students are the recipient of value. 
  • Each Scrum event has a specific hardcoded time-box. Agile Classrooms allows it to be configured based on the time available. Schools do not have student teams working together for 40 hours a week as a corporation does.
  • Scrum is immutable. Unlike Scrum, Agile Classrooms allows you to customize the routines as needed, choose the ones you want to use, and leave the others out as desired.
  • There is usually not a Definition of Done in the core Agile Classroom framework as there is in Scrum. We find rubrics are already suitable for the purpose in most educational environments.

Some may find this pedantic. Perhaps so. We want to honor Scrum. We do not want to mutate what it is and cause confusion. Agile Education should be authentic to education, not force-fitting corporate product management into the education box.

To learn more, you can download the Agile Education Guide from our Resources section.