Augmented teaching, which involves the use of digital technologies to enrich and transform traditional learning methods (such as lectures or study in textbooks), stimulates the use of modern application development techniques.
The Agile and DevOps approaches allow to quickly design and distribute software to support school programs, in line with the real needs of users (teachers and learners). However, they require an adequate IT organization, ad hoc methodological and technological skills, knowledge of the Education sector.
Opting for an Agile Software Factory, managed by an experienced and referenced partner but in close synergy with the departments of the institute, represents a valid solution for implementing augmented teaching strategies; it allows to acquire the necessary skills from the outside while keeping the focus on the dynamics and needs of the school.
Augmented education is now part of the new normal
With the latest Covid-19 emergency, schools have had to run for cover, quickly implementing the tools to allow remote teaching: collaboration platforms, network enhancement, data security and identity management solutions, and so on.
Today, we are witnessing a consolidation of the trend, with ever greater integration between classical and digital educational methods. However, the new normality goes beyond simple "remote learning" - the so-called DAD that has been filling the headlines of Italian newspapers for a few months. It is taking the shape of augmented teaching through digital technologies.
It is no longer just a matter of transposing the dynamics of traditional teaching into the virtual world (for example, by streaming lessons or sharing teaching material through cloud storage systems). The goal of augmented teaching is rather to create innovative, engaging and multichannel learning experiences through the development of new applications, from online tutor services to gamification solutions. Those exploit the latest frontier technologies such as collaboration platforms, analytical functionalities, intelligence artificial, virtual & augmented reality and so on.
Agile and DevOps methods for augmented education
The ability of schools to create an effective student experience depends on the accuracy with which software supporting augmented teaching is introduced. That must be developed rapidly and must be aligned with the actual needs of teachers and pupils.
In this context, the Agile method proves to be optimal because it allows to accelerate the release and optimize the software functions as needed.
In summary, the development process is iterative and incremental, based on short activity cycles (sprints), frequent releases and empiricism. Every two to four weeks, the developer teams release an enhancement (i.e. a software improvement), which is immediately tested. Users report their feedback to the developers for the resolution of any errors, which are resolved to proceed to the next sprint. In this way, we continue step-by-step towards the final release of the application, with the possibility of correcting the course in progress, also allowing users to immediately benefit from the first improvements developed.
The DevOps approach, on the other hand, aims to encourage collaboration between all those involved along the entire software lifecycle management process (from development to maintenance), therefore Developers, Operations and Quality Control staff.
Agile and DevOps are complementary methods, which together aim to optimize, accelerate and automate the application management pipeline, responding to the needs of augmented education.
The experience of a partner for augmented education
If the Agile and DevOps intentions are clear, the declination of the method within one's own reality is less trivial. How to develop the software necessary for augmented education, achieving the objectives of efficiency, effectiveness and speed promised by the two frameworks?
Turning to professionals who are experienced in Agile DevOps and referenced in the school sector, can be a valid answer. In fact, the best choice falls on the partner who proposes Agile Software Factory solutions, able to manage application projects independently and to work on agreed objectives in the short, medium or long term. In this case, the software factory not only provides specific skills (technological, methodological and in the field of teaching), organizing and finalizing the entire development pipeline but constantly compares with the staff of the institute to align needs and requirements. In this way it will be possible to accelerate the release and refine the quality of the applications according to the reference school context, creating augmented education initiatives optimized in terms of time, costs and functionality.