Review of Open2Study’s “Introduction to Enterprise Architecture”


Recently, I took an online training course provided by Open2Study – an open learning initiative by Australia’s Open Universities. Its title was an “Introduction to Enterprise Architecture” and I’m providing an overview and review of it.

Course Logistics

Firstly, the course is free – all you need to invest is about 10 hours of your time over a month. From what I can see, the course runs every four or five weeks. You can find all the information at this web page:

Course Delivery

Open2Study deliver the course online over four weeks – not a single lazy Sunday afternoon when you can rush through it – using ten minute YouTube videos. Each video ends with a “pop quiz” and each module ends with an assessment. They each use multiple-choice questions, but as I’ll comment later that doesn’t make them easy.

Craig Martin presents the videos and in my view is the best person in the world to teach you about enterprise architecture. I’ve linked to an overview about him here.  I first knew about him after finding some videos on YouTube about similar subjects and realised how much I liked his teaching style.

“Real enterprise architecture”

Very quickly you realise this course is about enterprise architecture – the discipline of making businesses more effective, and not enterprise IT architecture – dealing with large numbers of IT systems.  Expect to learn about business processes, business capabilities and industry reference models – rather than how networks or servers work.

I’d say about 30% of the content discusses “traditional IT”, the remaining 70% is about business architecture and how to implement transformational change within a business.

If you want to learn how to design technically large and complex IT systems – look elsewhere.

If you want to know how deliver business value and business transformation using IT, read on.

Seven out of ten

Having completed, and passed, the course I’ve given the course a score of 7/10. To understand why, I’ve broken my score into 7 good points and 3 bad points:

Good points

  1. The course was about “proper” enterprise architecture and not advanced IT design – previously I’ve found these types of courses always end up swaying towards just IT or just project delivery techniques
  2. I actually learned, a lot.  Too often we find ourselves sat in training where we know more than half of the material already but we have to sit through it to learn the bits we don’t know.  I’d estimate I knew about 20% of the training material before I started.
  3. The ten minute videos were just long enough to cover a complex subject but short enough so I didn’t get bored and just listen to it in the background.
  4. The videos each had a transcript that you could read either in sync with the video or without watching the video at all – sometimes I needed to read what had just been said slowly to understand it said rather than listen to it again.
  5. Craig Martin’s delivery used straight forward real world examples to compliment his academic material – sometimes instructors get carried away telling you long and complex stories rather than just the relevant details
  6. The videos used a clever “transparent whiteboard” to draw diagrams that allowed me to take good screenshots for my notes – there’s no slides for this course.
  7. The web site was easy to use – sadly that still has to be said and not taken for granted.

Bad points

  1. The course was both an introduction to enterprise architecture and an introduction to TOGAF.  Although there’s four modules to cover both of these topics it’s a lot of material for “an introduction”.  The pace in module 2 that went through TOGAF in quite some detail meant a lot of stopping to catch up on my notes and then work out what was just said.  A slowdown in pace at the expense of some content would’ve been better.
  2. The questions in the pop quiz at the end of each module weren’t always covered in the video!    The difference in terminology or even material often meant I had a blank face when I read the questions, that didn’t help morale after a hardcore module.
  3. The lack of download materials obviously helped keep the training free but also made it hard to do any “offline” studying.

Overall : Recommended


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