Chaordic Learning: A Case Study — Stephan Krusche

Chaordic learning? What is that? I had not heard about it before today. It is a hybrid between chaos and order. Our field went through a number of phases. It started with chaos, then everything needed to be ordered and like a product line after the ‘software crisis’ and then came XP which held the middle between them a little bit.  But, says Stephan CP methods are not really chaotic, there is a process, it is only a different one and it can be adapted.

In education, we see that many professors focus on rules, regulations and order, for a number of reasons. 1) instructors do not want to lose control and 2) it is easier to grade with strict guidelines. Sadly this means that creative teachers and students feel more and more out of place. Hear hear! (Mulder 2015)

Thus, we need better methods, based on the idea of chaord:

Chaordic learning is the middle between experimental learning and theoretical learning. For example, there is a grading model, but the methods are not prescribed and students can create their own path towards learning. Structure and guidance are still needed.

Another difference is that the teacher is not above the students, but the students also can give feedback to the teacher. It is more like a master-apprentice model, where the teacher shows how it is done, rather than gives orders.

The 6 elements of chaordic learning are: purpose, principles, people,  concepts, structure, practices.

This process does feel quite like a normal course where you start with learning goals (purpose, principles) and then make a plan of how to run the course (people,  concepts, structure, practices).

Case studies

Now Stephan presents two case studies in which he applies chaordic learning. In one the students had to make a game, but there were no examples of games, the students could select their own game, and form their own teams. The teacher did provide milestones and events. In the second students too could select their own projects for an IoT project. In both projects there was a flat hierarchy where students felt supported by the instructors.


  • increased intrinsic motivation
  • increased self-organization
  • less hierarchy
  • more trust, students feel that the instructor want them to succeed rather than give a bad grad at the end of the course.

Sadly there were not downsides presented. There is a preprint too.