Agile has a few definitions these days. The Oxford English Dictionary describes it as the ability to move quickly. In software development or project management, agile refers to dividing tasks into shorter phases of work and assessment. Now St. Vrain Valley School District is bringing AGILE into education to allow students flexible access to coursework between schools.
“One of the things we recognized coming out of the pandemic and coming back to education in person is that we learned a lot of lessons that could benefit kids throughout the district,” said Michelle Bourgeois, SVVSD chief technology officer.
SVVSD’s AGILE program, nearing the initial pilot phase, stands for Advanced Global Interactive Learning Environments. Students around the district would be able to sign up for coursework at any of SVVSD’s schools. A student in Frederick would be able to take a language course only offered in Lyons, for example.
The ultimate goal of AGILE is to capitalize on SVVSD’s online learning and technological offerings so that district students can curate their own education, according to SVVSD Assistant Superintendent Kahle Charles. Expanding offerings for remote learning is a natural progression for the district, Charles said, freeing education from the confines of brick and mortar.
“We’d love for students to be able to say ‘I love this class at Silver Creek or Longmont High’ and let them choose from a menu of robust classes that helps them customize their education,” Charles said.
AGILE is still in the early stages of development, starting with a program through LaunchEd Virtual Academy in Spring 2021 to troubleshoot, identify resource needs and discover best practices before expanding the offerings in the 2022-23 school year, Bourgeois said.
To develop the new remote learning opportunity, SVVSD is outfitting one classroom as a prototype, with multiple cameras, speakers and microphones to give teachers a powerful resource for instruction. LaunchEd Assistant Director Julie Read is spearheading the development with LaunchEd staff for the pilot phase of AGILE.
“It really gives students across our district an opportunity to engage with and have the same access to some of the really interesting coursework the schools have developed in their own area of specialty,” Read said.
LaunchEd staff will practice in the AGILE hub room with a variety of classes to test the capabilities, Read said. It will provide an opportunity for students and teachers to find what works and where some of the gaps are before the program expands. The pilot program won’t be restricted to just student education, Read said, but also for professional development and adult education as well.
The readiness plan for AGILE in 2022-23 will incorporate four classes, one from LaunchEd and three from undetermined schools. The initial offerings will focus on courses that may not have enough interest at any one school for a full curriculum, from language courses to art history.
The long-term goal with programs like AGILE — beyond expanding offerings within the district — is to expand opportunity to other districts throughout the state. Currently, SVVSD can only accept 10 students outside of the district, but with a multi-district license from the Colorado Department of Education, SVVSD will be able to connect with students in rural districts that may not have access to technology like SVVSD’s Innovation Center.
“We have learned so much over the last year and a half on how to do this well, how to build community and provide students with ample opportunity and choice in showing their learning and growth,” Read said.
Partnering with other schools to continue high-quality online education is one of the benefits of AGILE, Read said. Utilizing lessons learned through virtual teaching through the pandemic will help not only students, but also the teachers, to create a better environment for education, she added.
“We’ve always believed in personalization in learning and this will really bring it to the forefront as we develop this program,” Charles said.