No Master

A peer driven "Master's Degree" study program.

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    #2 MOOCs and more

    Christine Pierron
    Mar 30, '13 3:44 PM EST

    I wrote in the first posting about what I hoped No Master might be. I'd be very happy if it could, at least, be the online study group, a loose confederation of like minded architects looking to learn and grow.

    But, I do think it could be much more than that, too. At its best, I like to imagine it becoming a new avenue for gaining knowledge and skills not just for one's personal fulfillment but acknowledged in the professional and academic worlds as "value." As one of the blog posters put it the "coinage" of our professional standing.

    How can I justify this? I don't know that I would have tried even a year ago when I first had the idea. But now I've learned of many exciting organizations taking education to a new place based on online innovations such as MOOCs.

    A MOOC is a "massive open online class" and many universities are now offering them. They are free online classes with access to the video taped lectures, the lecture notes, and course syllabus. They are massive because they get attendance in the tens of thousands even hundred thousand. Even students who actually are taking the class (in the physical meat space world) often prefer to take the class via the MOOC rather than the actual lecture since it allows them to go at their own pace and according to their own schedule.

    No accreditation is given to those not attending the school, but new options are already opening up to address this. is a new online organization offering free courses from many different universities. It was founded by Sebastian Thrun, a professor from Stanford, who taught some very successful MOOCs while at Stanford.

    He was so excited by this new model for education that he started He teaches artificial intelligence and was involved with developing a self driving car. Udacity courses are largely focused on AI and computer technology but they hope to expand. Although no accreditation is offered they have looked to place some of their successful students in Silicon Valley with tech companies open to innovation.

    There's a really inspiring short video interview with Sebastian Thrun on Techcrunch. I highly recommend watching it to get an idea where this new approach is heading. ( is another new online organization not offering classes but offering s new form of academic credentialing. One that acknowledges not only your accredited degrees but also includes all your MOOCs, your university classes taken without a degree and classes from sources such as

    The idea is that learning is a life long activity and the current degree system doesn't reflect this reality. It doesn't give employers a real picture of an applicants true abilities and accomplishments. wants to provide this service by providing a "Degreed Score that quantifies your lifelong education by both credit hours and mastery levels."

    Other sites include offering free online courses from over 60 universities and founded by MIT and Harvard.

    So this is all very exciting and a brave new world for education. The downside is I've only found M.Arch courses on the MIT Open Course (not the - It may be limited but its start for us. It would be great if No Master got enough "umphh" that we could get other universities to offer their M.Arch classes as MOOCs.

    My thanks to for the cool image.


    • Sorry - this posted but lost the paragraphs and indentation.

      Mar 30, 13 3:45 pm  · 
      Lian Chikako Chang

      I believe that Harvard will (eventually...don't hold your breath) be sharing some architecture courses at edX....

      Apr 1, 13 10:38 pm  · 

      That would be great! The MIT open course ware isn't exactly "robust." I'm hoping there will be better material available with the edX. 

      Apr 2, 13 11:09 pm  · 
      Jolanda Morkel

      Christine, I enjoyed your blog post. Do you know of any alternative models of architecture education that you might want to share? There are not many that I know of, but I can think of the Boston Architectural College (online and work-integrated Masters), Oxford Brooks (work-integrated/ workplace-based Masters) and the current (not for qualification) MOOC presented by Daniel Libeskind (Leuphana Digital School).

      Apr 7, 13 4:36 pm  · 

      Hi Jolanda,

      Thanks for the comment and your email. I haven't found many alternative models for architectural education, hence the No Master concept and blog - to try to fill that void. 

      I'll look into the ones you have listed - thanks for letting me know about them. 

      Your approach from your email was interesting, I'm going to list it here for others:

      I support the idea of alternative professional educational models e.g. comprising of e.g.:
      1. workplace (apprenticeship)
      2. workshops (periodic blocks of time on campus)
      3. online learning

      Apr 7, 13 6:52 pm  · 
      Jolanda Morkel

      Dear Christine, thanks for your prompt response. I also just found this interesting link: In order to accommodate the non-traditional (often more mature, working and with dependents/ family) student, alternative modes of delivery need to be found for entering the architectural profession. Technology makes ubiquitous (anywhere anytime) learning possible. Also, the Profession has neglected the role and value of the apprenticeship model. At the same time, I believe, there's still a need for some face to face interaction with faculty and fellow students. That's why I am proposing a workplace/ workshop/ online blended or hybrid model. I am really curious to learn what others are saying.

      Apr 7, 13 7:44 pm  · 

      Academy of Art has an online M. Arch that I believe is completely online vs. BAC which has a physical component.

      Autodesk Education has been developing curriculum in collaboration with universities for online architectural education for some time. The Sustainability Workshop has good content and a forthcoming program, the Building Performance Analysis Certificate focused on building skills in environmental and material analysis. 

      Also, there is a Conceptual Design Curriculum.produced by CASE hosted at the BIM Workshop.

      Apr 7, 13 11:28 pm  · 
      Jolanda Morkel

      Michael, thank you for sharing these interesting links. I will definitely have a look. I think the time is ripe for considering alternative modes of delivery for architecture education. I value the studio and the rich learning that happens through a community of practice. However, perhaps technology makes it possible to find alternative ways to support/ supplement these face to face  "learning conversations." The big question is how traditional Architectural Learning Sites (Universities) will adapt/ incorporate/ adjust to these new challenges and opportunities.

      Apr 8, 13 3:20 am  · 

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About this Blog

No Master is a concept for a peer driven study program aiming to capture the benefits of an accredited master’s program without the school. Aimed at working architects and design professionals who wish to develop their professional growth. No Master - play on words: 1 Architects (master builders) without a master’s degree. 2 No school or teachers but but a peer review process, no masters just students 3 Ronin - masterless samurai, term for a secondary school graduate not admitted to university.

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