Summary: Agile Prototyping in Academia

31 07 2009

Dave Flanders was unable to deliver his plenary talk in person, so he recorded a screen cast for us with the accompanying slides, including breaks for discussion both within the live audience and with the remote audience using the #iwmwp6 tag.  Dave himself participated using Twitter and this tag, so he was able to contribute in real time.  The live commentary continued using the #iwmw2009 #p6 convention.

Dave took us through the Agile methodology manifesto and discussed how it could be used in an academic development setting.  He promoted various user-focussed approaches to help achieve development goals, useable software and user-feedback.  This included advocating paper-prototyping as a quick way to generate user feedback and refine ideas, and considering how to include your user all the way through developments by having the paper-prototypes and wireframes up on the walls around so the user is in the room with you.  Agile also includes using scrums and sprints as ways of achieving manageable targets and working software quickly and effectively.  

This was very much a practical talk, looking at the manifesto principles and translating them into practical processes that would work in the academic setting, not just the business setting for which Agile was designed.  Dave did note that Agile sits in a continuum between Cowboy (developer-orientated) development and Waterfall (manager-orientated) development, so the principles can overlap.

Usefully, Dave included a break in his screencast to encourage the audience to discuss the issues and any experiences they may have had using Agile.  He emphasised the importance of learning from each other and was on hand on Twitter throughout to answer questions.

You can find Dave’s slides here.

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