A Learning and Operating System for Alternative Schools

About Us


Very simple - SELFSCRUM is an open source operating system for open democratic schools.

What does that mean? I think we need a united effort from all parties involved to take child and youth learning to a new level that is appropriate for today and for the great challenges of the future. I am firmly convinced that school and learning must be completely rethought.

The good news is that there are already many good approaches. They come from many different directions. Be it from classical schools, where many motivated people with good ideas try to keep a frozen system alive, be it from the free economy, where knowledge and learning are essential for survival today, and also from the worldwide open source community, where much is shared and developed without commercial interest. And last but not least, the social forces of the current sustainability movements, who have learned to organize themselves in a modern way to give their concerns a voice.

Like any complex system, such a structure is not created overnight and not in the quiet chamber of a tinkerer. Hence this community as a starting point for a hopefully lively and diverse development with a stable core.

How it all began

Despite its young age, SELFSCRUM already has an eventful history behind it. A variety of storylines have overlapped here in a short period of time and created a momentum that on the one hand is still rather randomly searching, but on the other hand represents the accumulation of our conceptual work of the last years. All this is open and still very much in motion at the same time - I suspect it will remain so. That is why the desire for a community arose, which absorbs this movement elastically and - by changing its own forces - keeps it moving.


It all started with reflections on the EUvsVirus Hackathon. I have been looking for a long time for a software that supports our free school in managing the learning process - not only from the school’s point of view, but also for the students* themselves. In the current corona situation the new dimension “remote learning” was added. I came up with the idea to design the software as freely as the school and sketched out shortly before the hackathon. to use integrated programmed extensions to enhance digital whiteboard apps in such a way that the free form of editing is preserved while still supporting the necessary learning activities.

The Hackathon weekend was a good start to discuss the considerations and to play through a few use cases. With the international team we had two and a half intensive days, which ended after a night of work on Monday in a finished video, a project presentation and the newly created website.

Since we had no software developers in the team, we were not able to build a prototype as planned. Since we still made it to the finalist round of the contest, we unfortunately couldn’t take a winning place.

Further feedback

At the barcamp of the German EUDEC-meeting one week later and at an online-meetup of the association Raum für natürliches Lernen e.V. I could present the idea again and collect further requirements from the feedback. After that it became a bit quieter around SELFSCRUM as software.

While discussing we noticed that we had to think more about what such a software should be able to do.

Finding the “right” vision

This led directly to the next question: Which processes are relevant in the school as a learning space and which are not? In the case of free and open schools, there is always a back and forth between the desire for individual, fear-free design of the learning processes for the individual child and the necessary verification processes that schools in Germany have due to the legal framework conditions and which also still shape our “free” thinking much more than we would like.

So what is the “right view” of learning processes and their administration - viewed entirely pragmatically from the school environment?

At the EU hackathon and also at the German EUDEC meeting one weekend later, we noticed that the efficiency of the “processes” often comes to the fore far too much and that the actual origin - learning and social interaction - is lost in the process.

I would like to change this system(at)isch. What I have in mind is a methodological framework that can be accepted by the students (if they have got to know it) and that, despite all the freedom and flexibility, not only provides evidence, but above all strengthens the learning process and the joy of learning in such a way that we can leave it to the students themselves to develop the content they want to have.

Methodical background

For a while I have been working intensively with Learnlife, a start-up from Barcelona, whose concept I find very impressive. Right now the company is trying to leave the single learning hub in Barcelona and take the concept far into the world. I recently held a Webinar in a Meetup about this. A collection of “Learning Paradigms” is supposed to provide the methodological framework for the development and operation of individual learning. What might become problematic here is the compulsion to profit, which is by definition necessary, and the democratic foundation of the individual learning locations, which is at least not clearly presented.

Also, through my experiences in the IT world, I know only too well what happens to initially great ideas when they disappear behind proprietary payment barriers and slowly lose relevance. In my opinion, open source is the only production model that today manages to develop relevant topics quickly and keep them alive. Therefore, SELFSCRUM is for me above all an open source initiative.

For this reason I was very pleased to find Simon Dückerts Cogneon. Similar to SELFSCRUM there is a community, a knowledge base and an open source model for the generation and distribution of knowledge around a concept. The Open Source framework lernOS focuses on self-managed learning in order to address specific topics individually or in teams and to be able to work on them in quarterly cycles.

At Simon, operational knowledge management is the focus of attention. In many facets, this has produced an incredible amount of methods, tools and technologies over the last 25 years, which - adapted to children and young people - can provide us with excellent services in the design of learning in school. The attentive reader will therefore find many of the impulses for the design there in a similar form here, for which I would like to thank you once again.

Other important sources of inspiration are Harold Jarche and his Personal Knowledge Mastery concept and Dion Hinchcliffe with his thoughts on the digital design of collaborative organizations.

All of these are not essentially “pedagogical” concepts, yet they are deeply linked to the concept of “learning” in today’s world.

Project Framework

A pedagogical foundation, which for me fits very well with the idea of free learning management, is Project-Based Learning (PBL), which emerged from scientific research in the USA at the end of last century. I only found out later that PBL in Germany rather means problem-based learning - why is everything always a “problem” in Germany ;-).

“We also do projects,” you might think of this term. However, project-based learning is a completely different concept than the stencil-like project weeks that we find in many schools today.

I got to know this approach last year in an exchange with Lisa Rosa from Hamburg and I really appreciate this clear presentation.

Another inspiration for me is Loni Bergqvist, who brought PBL from the USA to Denmark, where she offers consulting and coaching for schools with ImagineIf and publishes great articles on the topic on her website.

So short is the history of SELFSCRUM - and yet so many topics suddenly emerged here that a whole mountain of conceptual work has been created here. In a next article I will outline the current fields of work as I see them. As always I am happy about any feedback.