Scrum@School as a new method in the minor ‘Biobased Economy in the agrifood sector’

News 28 November 2016
Scrum@School HAS University of Applied Sciences

“The students quickly got used to the method, and handled it intuitively.”

“What does the biobased economy offer the agrifood sector?” That was the main question during the third-year minor ‘Biobased Economy in the agrifood sector’, which ended during the week of 7 November. This knowledge-broadening minor sheds light on various aspects of a single subject, in this  case, the biobased economy. This minor was about the process of cooperation, knowledge and gaining experience in the impact that the biobased economy has on the agrifood sector and vice versa. And about quickly providing results and building on them. To strengthen this process, the lecturers involved used the method Scrum @ School.

Taking on a project step by step

Lecturers Joris van de Loo and Rob Bakker were involved in the minor, in which 19 students from 6 study programmes took part. “Scrumming comes from ICT,” Joris explains. “The method revolves around a long-term idea, but there is no plan of approach to reach that goal on the horizon. Instead, you see what short-term options there are to achieve your goal, and you work in steps of 2 weeks. This gives you the opportunity to move forward, but to still take the project step by step, and continuously tune the process. You present the results in small parts, and the process is very important, including the division of tasks and regular evaluations.”

Trial & error

“This approach is ideally suited to the subject of the minor,” adds Rob. “The transition from a traditional economy to a biobased economy is still a pretty much unknown road with a lot of trial & error. It requires flexibility. A long-term plan won’t work. The scrum method takes a different approach and gives participants the opportunity to work quickly with the data, and cover lots of topics in a short amount of time. The students quickly adapted to the method and handled it intuitively.”

Compulsory education is becoming a question of ownership

Joris: “The method is a bit like Problem Based Learning (PBL), if it weren’t for the fact that the PBL lecturer explains everything beforehand and that with scrum the students get lots of freedom and responsibility. They’re allowed to decide more for themselves, and the lecturer corrects them where necessary. This allows students to learn quicker and therefore more. Compulsory education is converted into a question of ownership, and that means the students are much more motivated.”

Enriching education

Lecturers also see this as an enrichment to the education they offer, because they have more opportunities to elaborate projects and to work on the students’ talents. This is why the scrum method is being used in several areas of education. Rob: “Other than this minor, it’s also being used, for example, in the 4th year minor ‘Challenge Sustainability’. The scrum method is of interest where new things are being developed. It creates better communication, greater transparency, and the opportunity to adapt quickly to changes.”