online student engagement

Agile Management goes Hollywood

When we we thought about how one would best learn Agile Management online, we eventually settled on exploring news ways of how to use storytelling in online education. Because learning works best, when it is fun, intuitive and engaging. This is why the course “Agile Management” (which unfortunately for now is only available in German), led by Lean Launchpad Educator and founder of Safari Consulting Stefan Hoch, takes you to a fictional corporate world that might very well feel familiar to you in one way or another.

The course uses the so-called hero’s journey format. The learner follows the hero of the story, who after mishandling a corporate innovation project gets one last chance to save his career from ruin. He is tasked with – finally – getting a product innovation off the ground and confronted with a host of challenges. In every chapter of the course, you will learn theoretical and methodological principles which you will then apply to your own course project at a later stage. Movie scenes, case studies and assignments make the theory come to life and help the learner to transfer what they have learned to their professional context.

The Making Of “Agile Management”

We decided that when conceptualising and filming effective learning videos that revolve around the theme of “agility”, the approach should be just as innovative as the topic itself. That is why we decided to explore the hero’s journey concept of storytelling in online education. In order to create the best possible learning experience for this topic and the target audience of this couse, our film team did not spare any efforts:

The nine day journey began in a forest in the outskirts of Berlin. Our team was accompanied by the expert Stefan Hoch and the lead protagonist of the course story. It’s December – minus two degrees Celsius – and they were equipped with Moon Boots, gloves, hats and winter jackets. Despite the cold, some parts of the story had to be filmed outside. Alongside cameras, lights and many pages of script our team brought bags full of groceries and a self-appointed team cook in order to prepare for a couple of intense days of shooting.

From Brandenburg, via Mainz and Berlin to Hollywood

Five days of isolation in the woods combined with commitment and full concentration eventually resulted in lots of video material; including some that would later become bonus content. But that was not all. In order to tell a well-rounded story that work for those who seek to learn Agile Management online, additional material had to be filmed in Mainz at the Safari Consulting headquarters, and at a coworking office space in Berlin. Here, five experienced actors came into play. During the filming, the actors themselves learned first hand what agile management is all about. They enjoyed working with the various methods and learning about the topics covered in the course. So that at the end of the nine days of production, not just the actors but also the production team left the set with a thorough understanding of Agile Management.

The videos that have been created in the process are probably different from other learning videos you may know. The whole concept is more reminiscent of a movie or a TV series and the whole learning process unfolds very casually; almost as a side-effect.

How Storytelling in Online Education Helps You Learn Agile Management Online

Most traditional learning videos show little change of scenery. Instead what you see is an instructor standing in front of a wall or a green screen, which always looks the same. Such a monotonous setup does not provide any “visual landmarks” for the learners. These, however, would greatly help them to better remember the concepts being taught. The video material of “Agile Management” on the other hand, offers learners frequent changes of scenery. This aids memory and inspires conversations at the water cooler: “Remember the scene in which Stefan Hoch sits by the lake and talks about freeing yourself from outdated thinking patterns?” In other words: these scenes do not just offer cognitive, but also emotional messages that allow us to connect and remember. Therefore they offer a learning experience that is distinctly different from seeing someone lecture in front of the same white wall for hours on end.

Learn Agile Management Online – Making Of

Another important aspect that differentiates the learning videos of “Agile Management” is that they use multiple characters, alongside the expert Stefan Hoch. Through the presence of more than one character in many of the videos, the learner can follow a storyline. Of course someone could also explain the situation as a case study. But if you learn Agile Management online surely it is much more exciting to see the drama unfold as it happens, rather than listening to the monologue of an expert. Just like in a movie, the key learnings are embedded in conversations. This makes it easier for learners to listen and comprehend the content within the given context of the story.

Making Theory Come to Life: Because Seeing is Believing

Stefan Hoch could simply state the fact that a lot of times, employees’ lack of motivation and buy-in are responsible for the failure of a project. Of course stating a fact is a reliable way of conveying information. This, however, far from ensures that the importance of that point is understood by the learner. Nor does it ensure that it sticks. So instead, the participants of our “Agile Management” course witness the story of the frustrated protagonist Marc, who struggles with the lack of commitment among his colleagues – the dialogues, the action itself, the tone of voice, the facial expressions as well as the subtext of the conversations all leave a lasting impression.

Oftentimes the instructor does not simply state certain facts or solutions right away. Instead the learners who learn Agile Management online have to identify the key problems themselves, by keeping up with the storyline. In one of the videos, the learners get to witness the failure of Marc’s project. Subsequently they have to recapitulate why and how they think the project failed, according to what they saw in the video.

Learn Agile Management Online – Disengaged Employees

In addition learners dive right into the story by working on the very assignments that Marc has to solve, which helps them retain the key learnings. Similarly, when Marc’s mentor Stefan sends him some notes to recap what they discussed in the video, learners receive these very notes so they can slip into Marc’s role. By having to solve the same problems as the story’s protagonist, the learners begin to identify with the hero of the story. Being emotionally involved makes it easier for them to see the relevance of what is being taught.

In Summary: If You Want to Learn Agile Management Online, Storytelling is Key 

Pioneering a new way to use storytelling in online education resulted in an online course that is both challenging and rigorous, but also engaging and entertaining. Because they can work on their own project in the course of the various assignments, every individual learner can embark on their own unique learning journey. This journey, however, will not only lead to broad knowledge of what the term “agility” means, but because of the way it is being taught it truly conveys both a “new way of thinking” (as Marc states in the course trailer) as well as practical skills that allow the learners to apply this thinking in their everyday work.

In short, Agile Management is a course that provides learners with a thorough grounding in the necessary theory, while keeping them on the edge of their seats!

If all of this made you curious, sign up for a free preview chapter of the agile management online course now. 

Learn Agile Management Online – film scenes

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Active Learning

As I have explained in my post on online student engagement, active online learning is key when it comes to motivating learners. What do I mean by active? An online course championing “active online learning” should prompt the learner to participate and contribute. One way of doing this is to inject small tasks into learning videos, another common approach is ordinary multiple choice.

For effective online learning to take place, however, online learning has to move beyond making learners dance to the instructor’s tune. Exercises (which are optional) and assignments (which are mandatory) should challenge learners to think for themselves and to come up with their own creative solutions to open-
ended questions. Not just for a few moments, but often a few hours. Learners write essays, prepare presentations, work on designs, spreadsheet models and programming assignments. The idea is to enable, if not encourage, them to think outside the box. And to come up with their own (often unexpected) solutions.

For example, one student in the course Design 101 came up with a unique and very creative
solution to the following assignment: “Carefully choose a recipe to cook for yourself. 
Today, you cook your chosen recipe and share with us a picture of your starting ingredients. Nothing less, nothing more.” You would expect them to use ingredients and kitchen utensils as suggested, right? But this student decided to give the assignment her very own interpretation. She said I”m going to make pancakes. But my pancakes are going to be a bit different. They will be from felt.” Here you see the “ingredients” she decided to use as starting ingredients.

What this example illustrates is that the course – instead of simply telling people what a good and creative solution looks like – challenged the learner to think outside the box and come up with her own, brilliant solution. Active online learning should allow for precisely this kind of open-ended experimentation. Instead of simply making people regurgitate information and knowledge, learners should apply it in assignments. This leaves them with both the opportunity to fail as well as to succeed beyond expectation.

Making Active Online Learning Social: The Learning Journal

The next step is to embed these kind of assignments in a social context. In order to do this we have created the so-called Learning Journal. The Learning Journal is an individual course blog that learners can use to share their solutions for the various assignments, take notes and discuss their work with the course community. Learners can »follow« the journals of other users to keep track of new content created by those peers they think stand out from the crowd.

Different layers of privacy settings allow learners to share their posts with no one, other participants in the same course or publicly on the internet. Through public sharing, journals can function as  learning portfolios. These serve as public, linkable proof of the things learners have created and accomplished in a course.

Active Online Learning – Learner Contributions in the Learning Journal

The course journal aggregates the journal posts from all users in the course. Learners can “like” each other’s work simply by clicking on the heart. Of course they can also leave more substantial feedback in prose. The hearts as well as the comments can be used to identify quality in quantity. Learners can also sort their posts either by date (starting with the most recent uploads) or by “most liked”. To easily navigate through specific assignments users can also filter by unit or search for the work of a specific learner.

The Process of Active Online Learning Visualised

An example of the process of active online learning in the course “Visual Thinking for Business”

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