Internationaler Tag der Bildung

24th of Januar - International Day of Education

- Achieving learning success with learning stories

Written by Vera Gehlen-Baum & Manuel Illi

Learning in agile teams

The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed the 24th of January as the International Day of Education. The member countries have recognized the importance of education and continuous learning for a positive development of societies: „education plays a key role in building sustainable and resilient societies and contributes to the achievement of all of the other Sustainable Development Goals; it increases the productivity of individuals and strengthens the potential for economic growth, develops the skills needed for decent work, develops the professional skills needed for sustainable development (...)” -The United Nations General Assembly.  

What applies to societies also helps (agile) teams and companies; learning ensures a sustainable development. The problem is that even though many teams are aware of the relevance of continuous learning, they often fail to set themselves learning goals and to pursue them consequently. When teams set their learning goals at the beginning of the year, they often notice at the end of the year that they have not accomplished their learning goals as there was so much other important day-to-day business to do.

However, especially for agile teams there is a solution that can help to work consistently on learning objectives throughout the year. The solution: one integrates so-called learning stories in the sprint.

What are learning stories?

Learning stories are, analog to user stories, smaller learning goals that work towards a larger team learning vision. They are written before a sprint, along with their acceptance criteria. During the sprint planning, the team members assess the complexity, the risk and the effort of implementing a learning story within this sprint. Finally, the results of the learning objectives will be presented in the sprint review and, again analog to user stories, if they were achieved, they will be accepted.

Who designs learning stories?

The learning needs of a team can arise e.g. from a team vision, from new challenges in a project or even from a change in demand. In our experience it is productive to assign the new role as team learning coach to the Scrum Master. The Scrum Master is familiar with the wishes, needs and obstacles of the team and should therefore be able to support the team substantially.

Furthermore, we teach our Scrum Masters pedagogical methods in order to provide the best possible support. Thus, the Scrum Master can design better acceptance criteria and thereby offer concrete support, with exercises, specialist literature or external scripts that can provide the learners with further guidance.

We have applied this learning coach approach for over a year now and have been able to achieve profound learning achievements. Moreover, it has a very positive effect on teambuilding and product quality. Therefore, we can strongly recommend to firmly establish learning as a topic in teams. Have fun trying! 

With this in mind, we wish you a wonderful Education Day 2019!