Martin Wirsing Dieter Frey

Agile governance for innovating higher education teaching and learning



In the field of study and teaching at universities today, digitisation is the cause and driving force for change and innovation. Online teaching, blended learning and new digital techniques for data structuring, simulation and interaction offer many opportunities for revising and renewing teaching and examination content, curricula and also communication between students and academics. In Germany, however, the Humboldtian principle of «freedom of teaching and research» applies. According to the German Basic Law and the Higher education acts of the German federal states, university lecturers are free «in their way to hold courses and to organise their content and methodology » and are therefore not obliged to develop their teaching techniques. To reform teaching, we propose agile processes that emphasise self-direction, collaboration, and lightweight procedures. In software development and business operations, such methods have proved to be successful in dealing with changing technologies and product requirements. In higher education, agile-based instructional methods are used but are not yet the method of choice. In this paper we present a novel agile governance approach for fostering innovation in university teaching and learning. The so-called «multiplier method» is also based on ethical principles and consists of two steps. Firstly, academics carry out innovative, self-selected teaching projects in small teams; they are coached by experts and also receive training on relevant topics such as teaching, inspiring, and leadership. Secondly, the participating academics act as multipliers: they pass on their experiences to their colleagues and become contact persons for good teaching in their faculties. The «multiplier method» was successfully tested in a large teaching innovation initiative. Over a period of 9 years, more than 150 individual innovation and online learning projects were successfully implemented


  • Agile Governance
  • Software Development
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Higher Education
  • Multipliers


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