Blog entry of Anja Siegert | 20.04.2021

Agile learning – What does it mean?

Innovative into the future
As the way we work changes, so does the way we learn. The opportunities offered by digitization and the increasing volatility of the world of work play an important role here. Those who can adapt learning to these conditions will remain able to act and compete in the future. In this context, a wide variety of terms for new and innovative learning formats are popping up. One of them is the approach of agile learning.
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Agile learning: definition

Following the principle of agile working, the approach of agile learning is now also becoming increasingly popular. Here, the agile values are adapted and applied to the process of learning.

Agile learning is characterized by short and clearly structured processes with simultaneous flexibility and adaptability of the content.
The learning process consists of short, repetitive cycles. Insights from the preceding units are incorporated into the subsequent ones. The learning process is thus given intermediate stops and milestones. The learners are thus able to generate new solutions in a timely manner and to react to changes.

It is important to have the right error culture in order to create room for testing new approaches. The cycles are used for trying out, learning, adapting and readjusting. The learning process is therefore structured, while the content is flexible.

Learning is also aimed at a concrete need, a concrete challenge and high work relevance. This targeted competence development is not based on general examples or case studies, but on personal use cases. The learners and their individual challenges are therefore the focus of agile learning.

Agile learning is also collaborative. On the one hand, the learners are consumers of the knowledge imparted and the use cases of the others, but on the other hand, they are also producers of knowledge by sharing their own experiences and use cases.

The learning process is accompanied by a learning coach.

Agile Learning: Differentiation from New Learning and Learning 4.0

When discussing the learning of the future, the terms “New Learning” and “Learning 4.0” are often mentioned. The often vague definitions of these terms make it difficult to use agile learning in personnel development. In order to create clarity, we now distinguish the terms New Learning and Learning 4.0 from Agile Learning.

New Learning

Analogous to New Work, New Learning aims at the individual self-development and potential development of the learners. In contrast to Agile Learning, New Learning is less linked to a given learning process. The main focus is on the self-determination of the learners and their autonomy and social participation.
The individual’s freedom of action is to be strengthened, so that everyone can determine for themselves what they want to learn, when and how, and what they themselves find meaningful.
Learning is viewed holistically and also includes learning processes that are not explicitly related to work. One example of this is service learning, which combines the aspects of meaningfulness and social participation. In service learning, for example, managers can switch sides and help out on the store floor (areas of the company that directly add value).

Learning 4.0

Learning 4.0, on the other hand, refers to the digital media used for learning. Nowadays, bots, artificial intelligence, augmented or virtual reality can be used to create entirely new learning experiences.
These possibilities of digitalization increase the efficiency of learning, open up new fields and simplify individualization. For example, a smart, virtual learning environment can be used to practice sales talks or simulators can be used to learn manual skills.
Agile learning and new learning can also make use of digital possibilities, but learning here does not necessarily take place on the basis of new technologies.


In the discussion about learning of the future, the terms Agile Learning, New Learning and Learning 4.0 are often used synonymously. As the description shows, the approaches certainly have things in common and are not mutually exclusive. Nevertheless, they differ in their special features.

  • Agile learning is characterized by a structured process with flexibly adaptable content. Testing, reflecting and adapting with direct reference to work is particularly important here.
  • New Learning focuses on the learners and their self-determination.  They choose what and how to learn.
  • Learning 4.0 refers to learning with new, smart technology.

And how can agile learning take place in the company?

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With Digital High Intensity Training (DHIT®), we at CONTUR have found an answer to the question of a new innovative learning format that is particularly effective and sustainable.  In doing so, we take up aspects of agile learning in order to adapt the learning process and competence development as well as possible to the increasing volatility of the working world and to generate the greatest possible impact.

The learning process consists of several live online sessions, which are accompanied by 1:1 mentoring and self-learning units. The group size of four people allows for flexibility of the content according to the needs of the participants.  Between sessions, there is time for trial and error.

The findings are reflected on in the mentoring or in the sessions, discussed and possibly readjusted and further developed with new input. Here, we work with actual challenges and problems of the participants. 


As a HR developer and educational scientist, I have been involved with learning in organizations for a long time. Designing learning formats that are appealing and purposeful is part of my job, that I love to do.


Anja Siegert

Business Development und Nachhaltigkeit

+49 941 78 44 75 0


As a HR developer and educational scientist, I have been involved with learning in organizations for a long time. Designing learning formats that are appealing and purposeful is part of my job, that I love to do.

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