Unlearning the API Economy

March 15, 2020
Marjukka Niinioja

"APIs are just a technical implementation detail" - or are they?

Our free online course "Introduction to API Economy" starts with an audio recording of the first chapter from the book API Economy 101. The chapter is called "Warning! The API Economy may change your business model". This reflects the incredible opportunities that understanding API Economy on a deeper level carries.

Many students on this free 1 ECTS Master's level course have various levels of technical knowledge about APIs, but are struggling with one of the following three questions:

  • APIs are not a business issue, it's a technical implementation detail! No?
  • How to explain APIs to other people, especially the business people?
  • What are APIs anyway?

To find the answers, the first step is to question what you know now. As Gloria Steinem once said: "The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn."

At Osaango, we are big believers in constructiveness applied to learning and education. It means that new knowledge and skills are built (= constructed) on top of existing knowledge in a social context.

This means, though, that if a person has incorrect previous knowledge or the information is stale, the new - more accurate information - has no means of sticking or it forms incorrect connections. Also, if the person is not interacting with other people and using that new information or skill, he/she can't get any confirmation that it's correct. Therefore, nothing sticks. Of course, it's also possible to learn incorrect information socially due to things like confirmation bias, but thanks to the way Osaango's courses are built, you can be sure to stay on track!

Now let's see what our students learned, or rather unlearned at the beginning of the course and how it made them  rethink APIs...

"Thank you for the audio recording - it was really fast to get basic info about the topic. I thought API's as a IT-thing so it was nice to hear/read a bigger picture of it. Interesting!"
"Have to agree with persons before me. APIs these days seem to be bit more than I've personally interacted with. Hopefully after this course I'm a little bit more "in the loop"."
"Books and publishers were a useful allegory. Reading the full first chapter of the book complemented and helped me to understand better the concepts from the audio. There were many new concepts, terms and information, that I want to check."
"And I agree with previous person, when he says: "hopefully after this course I'm a little bit more "in the loop"". ;)
Good and fast introduction to API economy.
A whole new subject for me. "
"Nice introduction to the course main topic in brief. Good emphasis on the fact that APIs are not just for the organization's IT-departments to understand. Whole businesses can be build around APIs. API's also offer opportunities to access business ecosystems and gain competitive advantage through them."
"A very fast introduction to API economy by listening! I thought I know something already, but now I`m quite sure I do not. Books and publishers were a nice allegory to me. I have heard the name Alibaba and I have visited the website once or twice. In my opinion, all organizations have to be IT-companies nowadays! Digital transformation, you know!"
"This introduction strengthened my view the APIs itself can be "the products" and they can serve as means to do much larger business!"
"I liked the analog of book representing an API and publisher a platform. I think this will make it a lot easier to explain APIs and their value to non-tech people."

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