Technology industry pays for research into agile education
The Agile education research group (RAGE) at the department develops agile education methods for information technology. On 15 April 2011, the centenary foundation of the Federation of Finnish Technology Industries allocated 150,000 Euros for the three-year period 2011-2014 to the development and research of agile education.
Some excerpts from the application below:
Goal, technological content and development of skills
The project will develop a learning environment based on agile education. Though the learning gained by the student is the primary thing and the teaching is secondary as such, learning can benefit greatly by good teaching. Agile education means that the teaching reacts and adapts immediately to the student's requirements for learning. The teacher or instructor is present in the learning, both physically and mentally. The location for learning is e.g. a workshop class with computers.
Agile education is more an attitude than any single method. In practice, the principles of agile education are: (1) Students start working concretely under the supervision of a skilled instructor from the first day of the course. (2) There is a lot to do, but it is always meaningful and motivating to the student because (3) the material phases out the work into smaller tasks. During the first week, everyone has already carried out dozens of small tasks that support the basic structures of their skills. With every small task, the students can feel more successful than they could after completing one big job. The feelings of success and the positive attitude of the instructors invites students to keep on working, i.e. creates a 'one more task' attitude for the students.The instructor can supervise and (4) help several students in a common classroom, because they often do not need more than a simple question or tip to instruct the students, who can then proceed on their own. (5) The progress of the students will be obvious both to the student and the instructor in the number of completed tasks. (6) The differences in skills between students will also be obvious, but both beginners and advanced learners can be encouraged by setting them exactly the right kind of challenges.
Developing teaching that is based on research is a long-term, iterative job. This is why we are applying for a three-year funding for the project, so that fringe benefits can be measured in practice, and the effect of this teaching method on the students' later learning results can be assessed.
- Vihavainen, Paksula, Luukkainen: Extreme apprenticeship method in teaching programming for beginners, SIGCSE '11 Proceedings of the 42nd ACM technical symposium on Computer science education, ACM New York, NY, USA 2011