Architecture for the Masses: A New Approach

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It might seem counter-intuitive to see established institutions like MIT, Harvard and Stanford jumping on board the MOOC bandwagon – in case you’ve just crawled from under a rock that’s Massive Open Online Courses; the wave of technology innovation sweeping across the Higher Education and Training sectors. After all – these education mega-brands have long been regarded as bastions of exclusivity, patronised by the world’s best, brightest and most privileged. Why would they decide to give away their courses for free? Well – they’re not the only ones getting on board…

We have just partnered with Open2Study, a provider of free high quality online education, to develop a course titled An Introduction to Enterprise Architecture.  We made this decision despite the fact that we offer several fee-based enterprise architecture courses such as TOGAF®, Business Architecture and ArchiMate®. Whilst the benefits of providing free course-ware may be more intuitive than clear, we believe the benefits of getting the word out about the value of enterprise architecture to a much broader audience is indisputable.

For many the Internet has opened up access to new resources and a range of online learning options however as people become increasingly time poor the need for quicker and more convenient learning options are becoming essential.  The increasing availability of free online courses is fuelling the disruption within higher education.  Industry disruption can often be initiated by newcomers; however it is the well-established institutions who appear to be increasing their investments in the development and publication of MOOCs.

Considering YouTube is now the second biggest search engine, video makes for the perfect medium for students who are growing up in a fast pace, digital world. MOOCs are self-paced and voluntary; participant’s expectations are different to traditional lecture-oriented and paper-based education. The experiential and engaging nature of a video coupled with its mobility and versatility creates an excellent learning environment. Students have the opportunity to explore topics that they may not have otherwise considered quickly and easily without financial commitment.

MOOCs are not limited to the higher education sector; they are also relevant to professional and industry training providers.  This led us at EA to develop, what has become, the world’s first MOOC focusing on enterprise architecture. The business case for investing in this exercise was light, but intuitively our stakeholders knew we had an opportunity to do something important for the enterprise architecture industry.

To date the practice of enterprise architecture has largely been invisible inside the black box of the IT organisation. Those of us who know about it already know that enterprise architects are smart folks.  But right now the industry of enterprise architecture is undertaking somewhat of a transformation itself. We are starting to see the business communities using architecture capability for investment planning. They’re demanding a better understanding of how technology will support their competitive strategies.

I’m often reminded of the opportunity when I hear C-level executives talk about their business architecture. As an architect there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing your business customers use your ideas and work products as part of their day-to-day activities.

Some time ago we decided to become a much more open organisation when it comes to sharing our architecture methods and practice. Most recently we have been releasing a variety of detailed content relating to business architecture, business analysis, and enterprise security. This is something we want to continue to develop. We believe in open industry collaboration with customers and competitors alike, and what’s most important to the architecture industry right now is getting the message out.

Click here to see an introduction to the MOOC.

For our first MOOC release with Open2Study we designed the curriculum based on the following learning objectives:

  • To provide a general appreciation of Enterprise Architecture regardless of prior experience or exposure,
  • To provide an understanding of the position of Enterprise Architecture within a business,
  • To provide an overview of a standard method and technique for developing and applying Enterprise Architecture,
  • To provide an overview in establishing an Enterprise Architecture practice within a business, and
  • To provide a view of the roles and potential career paths within the discipline.

Like the long established universities we believe the proliferation of MOOCs don’t spell the end for institutions and training providers. On the contrary they present opportunities to evolve teaching practices to better represent today’s needs and they bring important resources to a much broader community, benefiting all industries.

We invite you to join in and check it out! Enrol here