Agile + Low-Code: A Heuristic Pedagogy for Differentiation in Higher Education

May 23, 2022
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Over the last two decades, mounting evidence from various sources conclusively shows the benefits of adopting agile. Everyone knows agile-centric projects produce high-quality software. They are more receptive to change and deliver faster business results than traditional methodologies with high benefit-to-cost ratios. Agile is everywhere.

Yet, the Higher Education sector seems stuck in its change-averse stance. Failing to attract top talent. Stunting growth, impeding development, and ultimately affecting student experience. HE still appears far behind other sought-after fields like Retail or Finance to many developers. And without a massive overhaul of existing processes, it is doubtful for that to be changing anytime soon.

Universities have always been the faithful preservers of continuity and, at the same time – disruptive innovators. This strange contrast makes us ponder its effects on society and its processes. Various challenges on funding, technological development, and international competition come to the forefront that imperils traditional systems and emphasizes the need for better, faster, and more cost-effective practices.

Disadvantages of Traditional Methods

A typical reality of HE institutions is that many disconnected faculties procure individual off-the-shelf technology solutions for various purposes that become obsolete after a handful of uses—resulting in multiple data silos that further necessitate an integration partner to stitch stuff together.

Another industry-wide issue is the usage of legacy systems. Traditional methods impede the fast-paced reality that we now live in by following a fixed plan rather than responding to change—hindering creativity while generating new ideas. It lacks a personal touch, the addition of which can be a massive plus considering how every other industry has turned people-centric and gained tremendously from the transformation. It can also boost the efficiency, speed, and quality of delivery of digital solutions.

“Traditional methods impede the fast-paced reality that we now live in”

Challenges in Agile implementation, and how to overcome those gaps?

Challenges and issues related to agile are unique as they arise due to the idiosyncrasies and differences in an organization. This makes it difficult to identify a particular set of readymade solutions. However, the most common impediments to implementing the architecture are related to change resistance based on culture or organizational philosophies, like legacy HR practices.

Agile coaching of stakeholders and the leadership and empowering decision-makers is another step toward overcoming gaps in the implementation of Agile. It allows the use of various problem-solving techniques to customize and select the correct methodology based on its suitability for the projects and the organization.

agile metodology
Source: Adobe Stock

In addition, building cross-functional teams and learning new skills creates a positive atmosphere leading to changed behaviours are critical next steps to herald a culture based on values. This is a radical alternative to the command-and-control style of siloed management, which helps bring you up to speed with other industries in culture and approach.

What is Low-code/No-code, and how it can be a key differentiator for HE?

Low-code/No-code platforms comprise prebuilt functionality and code that helps drastically reduce the need for hand-coding and testing. Building blocks like components connect by simple drag and drop. That way, enterprise or citizen developers can create new business applications and build basic automation applications with little IT support.

The functional ease of these platforms can be compared to a workbench in a tool shop. These software “workbenches” come with individual modules for allowing your IT teams to build mobile or web apps.

  • The technology-agnostic components and open APIs allow seamless integrations, and developers can finally eliminate data silos across university institutions and start automating laborious tasks so your staff can focus on more important goals.
  • Development using micro-serviced components from a low-code platform means tech teams can simultaneously work on multiple parts of an application rather than a slower, sequential model, thus moving faster with development.
low-code platform pie chart

Even so, low-code standalone gets you only halfway there. Low-code platforms need agile to realise their full potential. Because Agile with Low-code together breeds a futuristic culture that paves the path to dramatic incremental development.

The Power of Agile augmented by Low-Code accelerators

It is important to remember that Low-code applications built on agile principles assist in enabling both students and the university staff. The right platform can offer an array of pre-built components that leverage analytics, automation, and AI to deliver a more equitable, engaging, and practical learning experience.

Thus, attracting the disenfranchised top talent towards HE as a lucrative career option and augmenting student experience simultaneously.

students in the corridors of a university
Source: Adobe Stock

An agile development team equipped with low-code technology enables institutions of higher learning to embed a digital-first approach in their culture. It fosters a swift-process and smart-mobility culture by eliminating tedious administrative work. So, no more outdated and sluggish assembly line-style practices involving multiple handoffs, frequent errors, and stalls.

A connected infrastructure ensures that every staff member gets the correct information at the right time, empowering them to improve the quality of their education program while supporting students in fulfilling their potential.


Universities must be flexible to continue attracting top talent and enable existing staff members to maximize their potential and increase productivity. Implementing Agile is the primary stage toward adopting faster organizational processes.

Low-code running on agile is about enabling your IT teams, leading to the enabling of the rest of your staff. It provides the option to add capabilities to monitor and measure performance issues and sentiment quickly and easily iterate based on operational feedback. Leveraging the platform’s power makes it easy for IT teams to incorporate cutting-edge functionality as it emerges.

It promotes a culture of owning your infrastructure and developing continuously in phases in multiple areas across the organization without being dependent on or disruptive to each other. Instead of working with various software vendors and their recommended implementation partners, this empowers your chosen IT teams, providing the autonomy and ownership to handle your university’s infrastructure with ease.

digital solutions
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“Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.”- John C. Maxwell

As the upholders of the community, Higher Education as an industry must perpetuate a sense of enthusiasm and invoke excitement; for that agile is an essential prerequisite. Low-code platform accelerators offer the key to differentiation. Combining the two is a solid step toward incremental growth to make it a desirable and valuable career option, a stature it rightfully deserves. Once you get all this right, you might change more than your university – you might help change the outlook of the entire sector. Perhaps not in the league of the Silicon Valley anytime soon, but somewhat close wouldn’t be too shabby, eh?