Agile Skills for Tomorrow’s Technology-Fueled Workforce


My first exposure to SCRUM and the Agile Manifesto was when I worked at Sun Microsystems and the engineering organization I led decided to adopt the emerging principles and values back in 2001. We adopted agile to be just that – adaptable, iterative, and to ultimately drive innovation and affect change as we developed software products. We collaborated in small teams, focused relentlessly on the customer, and moved fast. Those skills and values are ones that have followed me throughout my career and fed into my love of building software.

Last week Couragion exhibited at the Computer Science Teacher’s Association (CSTA) conference in Omaha, NE. As I looked over the agenda, I was struck by one session entitled “Beyond Just Programming: Using Agile Methods for Authentic Learning”. First, I was excited since I’ve been talking a lot lately about how we need to teach computer science and computational thinking in a more expansive and holistic manner ‘beyond the context of coding’. Second, I was convinced I needed to meet the 'gamechanger' teacher who recognized the importance and portability of agile in education. It was awesome to connect with @Jennifer_Manly!

Couragion recently launched CS Challenges which focus on helping kids develop the occupational and essential skills needed to thrive and survive in tomorrow’s technology fueled workforce. Agile practices are featured prominently throughout, as students learn how to use reflection as a driver for continuous improvement and mastery. Here are a few highlights of what students learn when they engage with Couragion CS Challenges:

  • How to participate on software project teams using software life cycle processes
  • How to seek and incorporate feedback from team members and users to refine a solution that meets user needs
  • How to use an iterative design process to decompose problems and sub-problems into parts to facilitate the development of products
  • How to use SCRUM to distribute tasks and collaborate to create computational artifacts
  • How to maintain a project timeline by building a sprint and managing a backlog

To interact with the Couragion CS Challenges and weigh in with your opinion, please email me at


BTW - Jennifer Manly teaches coding and agile to middle school students in Baltimore, MD. Here’s a link to her CSTA presentation if you are interested!

Melissa RisteffComment