“SCRUM-tious” collaboration

I stumbled across a quote a few years ago and apologies to the original owner because I can’t for the life of me remember where I read it or saw it but it goes as follows.

“Without contribution, you don’t have true collaboration”

Originally the quote resonated with me due to my dealings regarding staff apathy during professional learning sessions with my focus initially being on what THEY (the staff) weren’t doing. Recently the quote has led me to reflect on the other half of that equation and I’m now questioning whether or not I have been designing learning opportunities that enable true collaboration. In my Year 7 Multimedia class, my team and I spent time mapping out the learner development we were working towards and then developed a learning model that we thought would help us enable true collaboration.

Screenshot 2016-04-30 13.25.02
We are hoping to develop learners with a desire to contribute. Our learning model lists working collaboratively as one of the roles the learner will play throughout the learning but our sequence doesn’t really highlight any opportunities for students to collaborate or list any strategies they could employ. So as a result I highlighted collaboration as the area of focus for the next task. The Inquiry Oriented Innovation framework by Richard Olsen (@richardolsen) allows you to pose problems and test solutions. Below is a screenshot of what I proposed.

Screenshot 2016-04-30 13.41.36


I am a little obsessed at the moment with Lean Start Up and Agile methodology and Richard has based the action research element of the IOI framework on lean methodology so it is a perfect match. I have a problem. I pose a hypothesis, create an experiment and find out quickly whether or not it worked. I then use this information to shape the next experiment. My experiment was going to test my hypothesis that a visual collaboration process called SCRUM could be used as a way to assist students with organisation, focus and personal productivity?

One of the books that I read and reread is SCRUM by Dr. Jeff Sutherland. SCRUM is a methodology, that like its rugby namesake is where a group of people unite collectively to achieve one goal through equal contribution.

Image source: http://bit.ly/1Y0MGYx
Image source: http://bit.ly/1Y0MGYx

SCRUM is used all over the world and has proven to be tremendously effective in industry. A SCRUM board is used to organize a project into it’s component pieces and visually display where tasks are in their development.

Visual Collaboration using SCRUM (5)

The start of the SCRUM journey is a User story.

Visual Collaboration using SCRUM

In software development, this might be a feature request for a particular user. It is designed to capture the human elements of the process. This feature request is then broken up into individual tasks and these are placed on post-it notes in the Backlog.

Visual Collaboration using SCRUM (2)

This is a list of all the work that needs to be completed. The next two columns are for work in progress. A person is required to take one task from the backlog and place it in the Doing column. They have responsibility for this one task. Once they have completed the task, they place the task in the For Review section where this task is verified for completion. Once the task has been verified that it is complete, it is moved to the Done column. The student would then take another task from the backlog and place it in the Doing column.

Visual Collaboration using SCRUM (3)

In SCRUM, there are only three roles, a SCRUM Master, a Product Owner and the Delivery Team. The SCRUM Master is responsible for the vision of the whole project. The Product Owner is responsible for the Product Backlog and managing the order of work and the Delivery Team completes the work.

Visual Collaboration using SCRUM (4)

There are many variations and nuances to the approach but in a nutshell that is the whole thing. When reading Dr. Sutherland’s book, I was originally drawn to using this approach as a way of improving the project work I complete across the school but then I stumbled upon EduSCRUM. Inspired by SCRUM, Willy Wijnands, a High School Chemistry teacher from the Netherlands developed EduSCRUM as a way to teach his students to manage their own learning. At the start of the unit, Willy works with his students to map out the learning required and to break it into individual components. These are then listed in the All Items (or Backlog) column. Students then work through the content in teams and when they hit a review, they are assessed. Content that is determined as mastered is then put in the Done column. This content can still be assessed at any time as determined by the SCRUM Master. Check out EduSCRUM for more great ideas on how to use it in your classroom.

Visual Collaboration using SCRUM (6)

To test the collaborative effectiveness of SCRUM, I have set up an A/B test with another teacher’s class. To keep the experiment as valid as possible, the teacher is unaware of the experiment. As a teaching team we have highlighted collaboration as a focus for this task but he is unaware of the use of SCRUM in my class. The students in his class have split up into pairs (as we did on our last learning task) and are working on completing individual projects. A group’s success is a finished product. In my class, the group is completing all the projects and so success is not obtained until the completion of ALL projects. I will be spending time in his class assisting with 3D design throughout the term but will also be using this time to make observations of the collaboration between students. The true measure of success however will be the final product. I believe that my students will produce work of a better quality as a result of this process. More hands working at a higher level in a targeted fashion with peer reviewers should produce better quality work or so I assume. Comparatively our classes have nearly the same bell curve when it comes to learning performance so it will be really interesting to see how this pans out. To truly test this, we will use an independent assessor to assess the quality of the work. Both classes will be mixed up with no student names available and the independent assessor will assess as we would normally. I’m really keen to see the results but I must also be ready to invalidate my assumptions.

As always, thanks for reading.  Comments and conversation welcome!!

Source: Presentation template by SlidesCarnival



2 thoughts on ““SCRUM-tious” collaboration

Add yours

  1. Thanks Steve I now have just added another book I need to read. Love the idea of SCRUM not only because I coach rugby but it makes sense when we are trying to organise and implement collaboration. We are currently in the process of revamping our Teaching & Learning framework and will suggest we look at this model as tool for structuring collaboration.

    1. Thanks for commenting Travis. The first session was slow as the concept of not owning a whole project seems foreign but once they start to take a post it note, the focus shift is amazing. For students who struggle with organisation, processing or focus, the task becomes easier and as such their motivation is higher. I spent the whole second lesson smiling. It also allows students to play to their strengths and offers differentiated success. I can’t wait to hear how you go.

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