A Learning Architecture for Complex Organization
Francesco Basciani and Gianni Rosa
Dipartimento di Ingegneria e Scienze dell’Informazione e Matematica,
a degli Studi dell’Aquila, L’Aquila, Italy
Model Driven Engineering, Enterprise Architecture, Zachman framework, Learning, Organizations.
Modern organizations are challenged to understand and put in action latest procedures and rules in order
to constantly improve their service quality while coping with quickly changing contexts and decreasing re-
sources. Such are defined by means of several kind of models that are in general quite interrelated. In this
paper, we propose a Learning Architecture using Zachman Framework that allows us to define relations among
these models and permits us to handle with huge amount of informations and resources in an organized way.
Furthermore, the architecture enables process-driven learning and improvement through enriched models with
contextual knowledge in terms of documentation and resources.
In the public service domain it is increasingly
demanded greater effort in terms of quality and
efficiency in the services provided by civil servants
to citizens. To ensure this efficiency and this quality
is necessary that employees with expertise in a
given task (process) can to share their experience.
To facilitate both the knowledge elicitation and the
learning process, a wide variety of models, tools
and techniques have to be provided and integrated.
All these artifacts at the same time may confuse
organisations, because it is not very obvious which
one to choose or which purpose is served. Moreover,
all the process and its sub-processes have to be
developed and managed independently from other
domains processes. Integrated models are needed,
which put the various approaches into perspective.
Such integration is meant to improve the speed of
working, improve quality of documentation, products
and processes, reduce costs, enhance responsiveness
to customer needs and handle the overall system
inherent complexity.
In this paper we propose an architecture con-
ceived to provide a learning experience in which
learner acquires knowledge while serving real re-
quests, supporting “learn while doing” approach.
For being effective, the architecture must provide
the requirements for a modelling notation which
describe the learners level, the acquired competencies
and knowledge to perform a procedure described by
means of a business process. With this approach the
learner can access and study these enriched models
and operate within a simulated environment repro-
ducing real requests through the promulgation of a
process and monitoring activities in order to provide
feedbacks for the evaluation of learners, business
processes, and associated learning contents. To fulfill
the need of share knowledge, manage and improve
the processes in enterprise, the Learning Architecture
LA provide a machine-processable model that exploit
the correlation among the activities and/or concerns
in order to provide enriched informations to the orga-
nization. The Zachman Framework (Zachman, 2012)
is used to describe all the interrelations, that provides
a logic structure for classifying and organizing the
knowledge about business activity of an organization
in different dimensions, and each dimension can be
perceived in different perspectives with respect to the
Enterprise Architecture.
Structure of the Paper. The paper is organized as
follows. Next section illustrates a motivating exam-
ple related to a Public Administration. In Section 3
we present an analysis of the required informations
in order to design a LA; in Section 4, we outline
how are integrate all the artifacts involved in learning
in complex organizations using the Zachman Frame-
work. Related work is discussed in Section 5 and fi-
nally, in Section 6 we draw some conclusions and fu-
ture work.
Basciani, F. and Rosa, G.
A Learning Architecture for Complex Organization.
DOI: 10.5220/0005845707340742
In Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Model-Driven Engineering and Software Development (MODELSWARD 2016), pages 734-742
ISBN: 978-989-758-168-7
2016 by SCITEPRESS Science and Technology Publications, Lda. All rights reserved
In this section, we present an example where an or-
ganization submits a project to the European Union
(EU). To do that, the organization have to be aware
of the environment complexity in which it is work-
ing because the ability to deal with this complexity is
critical for the success of the project proposal. They
must be able to handle in different ways a process as
well as use different tools, models, reporting docu-
mentation etc. Moreover, to successfully participate
in a project proposal and to support administrative re-
porting activities, for a complex organization, like the
Public Administration, is required to involve a unit
of administrative personal. For this reason, and also
due to the typical public employees high mobility, the
availability of an electronic learning platform is there-
fore highly desired.
In order to better understand how complex is man-
aging public administrative procedures, a real world
scenario is presented. Such scenario reference the
administrative offices of an Italian public research
body and is related to his participation to an European
Project Budget Reporting (EPBR) (Barbara Re, ). We
will start from the University organization structure
description to the detail of the Business Process under
analysis. Figure 1 denotes a fragment of the Univer-
sity organization in which there is an administration
and different schools (e.g. the Computer Science Di-
vision). In turn, an administration may have several
employees, each one with its own role.
Figure 1: Organization Model: University organization
This scenario engages different partners in the def-
inition of models and documentation for a Business
Process and will permit to assess applicability of the
proposed solution within real working contexts.
For the sake of clarity, we are going to explain
only a portion of the entire process and, after a first
analysis of the domain, the Grant Management BP
has been selected as reference point. It includes some
sub-process, such as: Periodic Report, Final Report,
Manage Payment and eventually Manage Amend-
Figure 2: Grant Management Different Level of Detail.
Without going into the details of each of the sub-
processes involved in the scenario (this is not the pur-
pose of our work) we consider the Periodic Report as
motivating example. It is the data object representing
the periodic report written by each partner participat-
ing to the project. In this process are involved dif-
ferent participants such as the officer, the coordinator
(one pool), the grant beneficiary (multiple in parallel)
and optionally the third part. Figure 3 describes how
the coordinator organizes the process of periodic re-
ports with respect to all the involved stakeholders.
Figure 3: Periodic Report - Choreography Diagram.
Moreover, each Public Officer (PO) according to
her experience, might have her own view of the pro-
cess for the production of her private periodic report
(Figure 4 shows an example of a private process done
by an EU public officer). In this way, different ver-
sions of the same process could be created, so we may
have different diagrams for the same process and all
of these should also have documentation so we need
other models for this purpose.
In its turn, a documentation have to describe, tex-
tually and graphically, the state of the data-object. In
particular, Figure 5 shows as the Periodic Report is
composed by a set of data-objects.
Focusing on the role of Coordinator, they can be
determined specific data-object: Amendment Tem-
A Learning Architecture for Complex Organization
Figure 4: Periodic Report - Private Process of EU Officer.
Figure 5: Document Model: Periodic Report.
plate, Summary of Activities and Periodic Reports.
Finally, Figure 6 shows the private process of the
Coordinator in relation to these documents.
Figure 6: Periodic Report - Private Process of Coordinator
Relationship with documents.
This scenario shows the use of a wide variety of
models and diagrams (i.e. organization model, chore-
ography diagram, collaboration diagram, Document
Model, etc.) at different levels of detail both in term of
modelling and learning (i.e. according to the learner
skill you should focus on different abstraction level
regarding how to deal with reporting).
The disadvantage in using all these models is rep-
resented by the increase of the complexity of the en-
tire process and the problem of integration of all these
artifacts together in a proper way. In the next section,
we will show how the complexity emerged in this sce-
nario is handled and the integration is done.
As illustrated in (Hinkelmann et al., 2010), in com-
plex organisations there are many information re-
sources that represents the complete set of activi-
ties consumed to perform missions, goals, and objec-
tives. The knowledge must be systematically formal-
ized, organized and consistently categorized in order
to support effectiveness in learning. The architecture
proposed in this paper supports:
- informative learning by which the learner can ac-
cess and study the enriched BP model and related
material with additional descriptive contents and,
- procedural learning, by which the learner operate
within a simulated environment reproducing real
requests through the enactment of a process and
monitoring activities. Such environment allows us
to capture useful feedback for the evaluation of: i)
learners, ii) business processes, and iii) associated
learning contents.
The above strategies, are off-line because the learner
acquire such knowledge before serving real requests.
However the typical complexity of processes defeats
the human capacity to acquire a full knowledge on
any aspect just through informative and procedural
approaches. It is necessary that learner can retrieve
and process useful and context-dependent informa-
tion while she is working on real cases. The architec-
ture therefore, must provide learning experience with
on-line strategies in which learner acquires knowl-
edge while serving real requests, supporting “training
on the job” or “learn while doing” approach. To this
end, it is of crucial relevance to be able to provide the
user with contextually selected task and user-specific
background knowledge (Alfonso Pierantonio, b). In
particular, the learner should be able to access the re-
quired knowledge in an optimal manner. This can be
achieved by coupling the process (formal or informal)
description with the descriptive units about the kind of
data and document type being considered by the pro-
cess. Ideally, the notion of context provided by the
process permits users to know:
- what to do,
- who does what, and
- what to do after the task.
In such a way the users engaged in their daily work
have not to spend much time and effort in knowledge,
information retrieval and management activities fur-
ther than their operative ones.
Within complex enterprises, knowledge includes
factual, conceptual, procedural and meta-cognitive
artifacts represented by means of metamodels and
LMCO 2016 - Special Session on Learning Modeling in Complex Organizations
model. Starting from metamodeling architecture in
(Pierantonio et al., 2015), this section briefly illustrate
the main models involved in organizations able to rep-
resent knowledge needed for learning.
These models, as shown in Figure 7, are obtained with
an in-depth analysis of a) three business processes in
the domain of the Italian Public Administration (the
family reunion, the grant citizenship, and the bouncer
registration); and b) a number of relevant modeling
notations (Alfonso Pierantonio, b). The business
modelling language, defined to provide a process no-
tation that could be easily understood by all business
stakeholders is BPMN 2.0 (BPM, 2011) as repre-
sented in Figure 7(a). BPMN is a standard for model-
ing processes described as a predefined sequences of
activities with decisions (gateways) to direct the se-
quence along alternative paths or for iterations, flow
of activities. Unfortunately, its semantic, as discussed
in (Alfonso Pierantonio, b), is limited, and it is not
useful for some organizational aspects as for instance
when the activities in a process
- can occur in any order and/or in any frequency,
- are not predefined, repeatable and knowledge in-
- depend on evolving circumstances and ad-hoc de-
cisions by knowledge workers regarding a partic-
ular situation.
The standard notation CMMN (CMM, 2013) as de-
picted in Figure 7(b), allows us to deal with the afore-
mentioned limits. As discussed in (Yu et al., 2006),
the importance to introduce intentional modeling in
enterprise architecture entails potential benefits and
pitfalls. In learning context, it is of crucial relevance
to model intentionality providing a scheme for devel-
oping, communicating and managing business plans
in an organized manner. The BMM (BMM, 2014) fo-
cuses on that. It has been proposed as a standard un-
der the Object Management Group (OMG) and pro-
vides elements and relationships of intentional mod-
eling as depicted in Figure 7(c). Central elements
include Means, Ends, Influencer, Potential Impact
and Assessments that are specialized into more de-
tailed elements as discussed in (Pierantonio et al.,
2015). The learning architecture must provide a mod-
elling notation able to describe the learners level, ac-
quired competency and learning progress respect to
a business process or procedure in organizations. In
Figure 7(d), the Competency model unlike the other
models is not defined in specific standard leaving to
the modeller the responsibility to define such aspects.
The implementation we take into account is defined
in (Alfonso Pierantonio, a) and it is partly based
on the framework the European Committee for stan-
dardisation, CEN WS-LT LTSO (Learning Technol-
ogy Standards Observatory)
. To achieve their means
and ends, organizations are structured (often hierar-
chically) in units where each one has a set of job
functions or tasks assigned to a group of people be-
longing to the organization. Therefore, an organiza-
tion structure is composed of units, each encompass-
ing the relevant people who work to achieve the mis-
sion of the organization (Oh and Sandhu, 2002). The
need to keep track of ”who does what, how and when”
is demanded to in Organizational model as depicted
in Figure 7(e) whose implementations is provided in
(Alfonso Pierantonio, a). About the management of
knowledge and documentation, instead of using the
BPMN 2.0 data object element for modeling informa-
tion/documents used in a process, e.g. as input or out-
put for an activity, we use a separate model, as shown
in Figure 7(f). This allows to define a data object (and
its meta data), and adding more details, e.g. provid-
ing references to operative templates or guidelines,
knowledge products or resources, which are utilized
in the processes (input, output to activities etc.).
The huge amount of informations and resources gath-
ered from models in Section 3 is not independent. To
fulfill the need of learning in enterprise, the Learning
Architecture provides a machine-processable model
that exploits the correlation among the activities
and/or concerns in order to provide enriched informa-
tions to the organization. In the following we use the
Zachman (Zachman, 2012) framework to describe:
- the interrelations of above mentioned models,
- the logic structure for classifying and organizing
the knowledge about business activity of an orga-
nization in different dimensions and perspectives
with respect to the Enterprise Architecture.
Figure 8 outlines how the models can be struc-
tured by Zachman’s matrix (Zachman, 2012). Rows
in Figure 8, take into consideration all the participants
involved in the organization’s Information Systems
(Inmon et al., 1997) in different perspective, starting
from an high level abstraction layer to the final prod-
uct, ie:
- Scope (Planner’s Perspective), the planner defines
the catalogue of services which describe concrete
information about a specific organisation, the con-
text of learning, and business scope. The specifi-
2EN WS-LT Learning Technology Standards Observa-
tory. URL: http://www.cen-ltso.net/Main.aspx. Main con-
tact: University of Vigo 36213 SPAIN
A Learning Architecture for Complex Organization
Figure 7: Models involved in learning.
Figure 8: The learning architecture structured by Zach-
man’s matrix.
cation is written in natural languages and struc-
tured by means of a table that gather the afore-
mentioned information;
- Business Model (Owner’s Perspective), the owner
is interested in modelling, at conceptual level, the
services defined in the Scope. The relevant data
involved in a learning architecture consists of a
number of component metamodels illustrated in
Figure 9. Among them, the following have been
defined by adapting current industrial standards:
business motivation (BMM) (BMM, 2014);
business process management and notation
(BPMN) (BPM, 2011); and
case management and notation (CMMN)
(CMM, 2013).
The remaining metamodels have been defined
from scratch and are described in (Pierantonio
et al., 2015)
competency metamodel (CM);
document and knowledge metamodel (DKM);
key performance indicator metamodel (KPI),
organization metamodel (OM).
The relations, are implicit and hence, a process
defined in a service catalogue (Scope Concepts
level), may occur in the process description on
the Business Concepts level but that relation is not
formalized and therefore hard to trace;
LMCO 2016 - Special Session on Learning Modeling in Complex Organizations
- System Model (Designer’s Perspective) the de-
signer works with the specifications defined
above, instantiating all elements involved in busi-
ness organization to ensure that it will, in fact, ful-
fill the owner’s expectations. The problem about
tracing the relation between a process model on
the System Logic Layer and the process descrip-
tion (at conceptual level), holds true;
- Technology Model (Builder’s Perspective) the
builder manages the process of define the lan-
guage and functionalities able to satisfies the re-
quirement of the learning platform. To this re-
spect, the model set defined in System Model must
be transformed in a standard exchange format, eg.
XMI, in order to be machine readable;
- Component (Learning platform’s Perspective) the
learning architecture takes the instance models
provided by the Technology Model and enables
process-driven learning, fostering the cooperation
and knowledge sharing among the learners.
Figure 9: The conceptual model.
While the horizontal dimension in the Zachman
Framework describe the participants involved in the
learning architecture, the columns provide a focus on
each dimension (Hay, 1997): What, How, Where,
Who, When, Why. The architecture exploit a subset
of them as following:
- Data (What?), in this column, ”Document and
Knowledge” concepts are defined. In particu-
lar, about the perspectives Business Model, Sys-
tem Model, and Component, the enterprise’s in-
formations about knowledge and resources used
for business activity;
- Function (How?), the process of the organization
are defined in several abstraction level. Starting
from a service catalogue, the models are refined
and enriched with structured information. In such
way, learner can retrieve and process useful and
context-dependent information while she is work-
ing on real cases;
- People (Who?) The latest column describes who
is involved in activities, assigning them to busi-
ness or IT perspective and classifying them w.r.t.
to several aspects.
The matrix structure of the LA, allow us to perform
an in depth analysis on some intrinsic characteristics:
- horizontal relations: bridging the various mod-
eling notations (and their representation formats)
between considered Business Objects;
- vertical relations: factorizing part of the trans-
formation chaining in order to produce artifact
needed for learning;
- enhance relevant quality factors, eg maintenance,
extendibility, etc.
4.1 Horizontal Relations
As already discussed in Section 3 there are many in-
formation resources in an enterprise that serve several
purposes and that usually reside in different informa-
tion systems. The separation of concerns in software
system modeling avoids the construction of large and
monolithic models which could be difficult to handle,
maintain and reuse. At the same time, having differ-
ent models (each one describing a certain concern) re-
quires their integration into a final model representing
the entire domain (Reiter et al., 2005). The integra-
tion in the LA is made through horizontal relations
in Zachman Framework and, for the sake of clarity,
only relations between models on the System Model
layer will be discussed in this paper (see the related
row in Figure 8). To make these relations explicit
and machine processable we provided the specifica-
tion in terms of weaving models for defining corre-
spondences between modeling elements belonging to
different metamodels
. Although there is no accepted
definition, in (B
ezivin, 2005) it is considered as:
- the operation for setting fine-grained relationships
between models or metamodels, and
- executing operations on them based on the seman-
tics of the weaving associations specifically de-
fined for the considered application domain.
In the following, each weaving is given by means of a
weaving metaclass denoting the correspondences be-
tween two or more metaclasses in different metamod-
els. Each weaving definition can encompass one or
Implemented metamodel resources can be
found in the repository: https://github.com/Learn
PAd/learnpad/tree/master/lp-collaborative-workspace/ lp-
A Learning Architecture for Complex Organization
more associations. The weaving models are given
according to the component metamodels defined in
(Pierantonio et al., 2015):
- Business Process Modelling Notation (BPMN
: several kinds of weaving are defined; the
link with Document Knowledge Model permit
to have the resources used as input (Figure 10)
and/or output (Figure 11) in a process or activity.
The lack of a specific semantic in the BPMN spec-
Figure 10: The DataInput weaving.
Figure 11: The DataOutput weaving.
ification for the Lane concept required the def-
inition of the Lane-weaving (Figure 12). Such
interconnection links a Lane in BPMN, with re-
spectively i) OrganizationalUnit, ii) the Perfomer,
and iii) the Role in Organisational Model. Fi-
Figure 12: The Swimlane-lane weaving.
Figure 13: The Activity weaving.
nally, the Activity-weaving interconnects infor-
mation linked to a given activity in accordance
with the Figure 13. In particular, given an activity,
it denotes: i) the competencies needed for realiz-
ing it; ii) the criteria used for evaluating its perfor-
mance; iii) the organizational unit, which has been
assigned the responsibility and who is performing
- Case Management and Notation (CMMN)
: the
ProcessTask-weaving denotes the reference to an
activity (regular task) to be invoked by the process
task (Figure 14).
Figure 14: The Process Task weaving.
- Organization Model: the Position-weaving links
the position described or reported in a resource
in a Document and Knowledge Model, e.g., a job
description (Figure 15).
Figure 15: The Process Task weaving.
The above relations are just only a subset of all pos-
sible ones, according to motivating scenario in Sec-
tion 2. A more in depth analysis, and other kind of
relationship tailored for learning in Public Adminis-
trations are discussed in (Alfonso Pierantonio, a).
4.2 Vertical Relations
The LA exploits models in order to have informative
specifications i) for the learners and ii) at the same
time informations able to simulate e monitor the pro-
cesses in organisations. As said, models in the Zach-
man matrix are organized using different abstraction
levels therefore, the learning contents that describe
multiple aspects of processes in organizations, should
rely on adequate means that automatically relate and
trace over the multiple views. The generation of e-
learning artifacts out of specified business processes
will be performed by means of vertical model trans-
formations chain as depicted in Figure 16
. In or-
der to enhance the automation in finding model trans-
formation chains, we use the proposed process of
deriving model transformation chaining depicted in
(Basciani et al., 2014). Moreover, there is the need
of techniques introducing automation in the manage-
ment of artifacts that have to be kept consistent to
Implemented transformation resources can be
found in the repository: https://github.com/LearnPAd/
learnpad/tree/master/lp-collaborative-workspace/ lp-cw-
LMCO 2016 - Special Session on Learning Modeling in Complex Organizations
each other. Therefore, model transformations play a
central role since they represent the glue between the
several levels of abstraction and enable the generation
of: i) different artifacts for learning purposes using
in Model2Model (see Figure 16(a)) transfor-
mation languages and ii) the generation of implemen-
tation code (B
ezivin, 2005) by means of Acceleo
Model2Code transformation (see Figure 16(b)).
Figure 16: The vertical Zachman transformation chain.
Many efforts have been done in order to support the
integration of models, tools and techniques used to
describe various aspects of a complex organization.
(Lankhorst, 2004) tackle the issue of integration
of all the concepts and modelling techniques used by
architects to describe their architectural domains, pre-
senting an enterprise modelling approach. In this ap-
proach several abstract layers are integrated combin-
ing several existing languages. Unlike the work pre-
sented in this paper, they propose a workbench for
enterprise architecture that supports the integration of
models in existing modelling languages and the inte-
gration of existing modelling tools. We choose to per-
form a similar integration using the Zachman Frame-
work mainly because we are aware that the commu-
nication is important.
Indeed, thanks to the Framework’s perspective,
which allows us to answer the what, how, where,
who, when, and why questions, we are able to cre-
ate different descriptive representations (i.e., mod-
els), which translate from higher to lower perspec-
tive. This guidance is both clear and complete and
as result these perspectives, in relation with these
questions, determine a communication matrix. Fur-
thermore, the Zachman Framework permits us to un-
derstand where completeness lies, and how to asses
when we’ve achieved it. Indeed, Zachman’s frame-
work suggests that an architecture can be considered
a complete architecture only when every cell in that
architecture is complete. A cell is complete when it
contains sufficient artifacts to fully define the system
for one specific player looking at one specific descrip-
tive focus” (Tupper, 2011).
Although we do not use the tools which they
have defined, we still followed the method defined in
(Pereira and Sousa, 2004). In the article, in fact, they
propose a method to achieve an Enterprise Architec-
ture Framework based on the Zachman Framework
Business. Furthermore, the authors identify a new
concept related to this framework defined as ”anchor
cell” that defines the semantic relationships existing
between cells on any of the framework’s perspectives.
In our work, we developed this ”anchor cells” that
represents vertical relationships with model transfor-
mations that transform a model in a perspectives in
another model in another perspective. Moreover we
have horizontal relationships through the rows (di-
mensions) using the weaving model (Didonet Del
Fabro et al., 2005).
In this paper, we presented a learning architecture
able to supports both an informative learning ap-
proach based on enriched Business Process Models
and a procedural learning approach based on simu-
lation and monitoring learning-by-doing. In order to
manage such information, it is important to organize
knowledge archives exploiting the usage of BPs in a
context-giving structure. In particular, learner should
be able to access the required knowledge in an op-
timal manner. This can be achieved by coupling the
process model with the descriptive units about various
aspects including the kind of data and document type
being considered by the process, the organizational
structure, the indicators for measuring both the per-
formance and how far the learning goals are achieved.
The learning architecture is implemented as described
in Section 4.1 and Section 4.2. A discussion about its
advantages and disadvantages will be part of future
plans together with its evaluation.
Furthermore, we intend to tackle the problem by
conceiving advanced model-driven techniques able to
keep aligned different views (i.e., models specified at
the same level of abstraction) and to manage multi-
scale models (i.e., models in which parts of the system
are specified at different level of detail) by means of
bidirectional transformations (Czarnecki et al., 2009)
and uncertainty management (Eramo et al., 2015).
However, these approaches testify the benefits and ad-
vantages of applying theory and results from MDE on
learning (Laforcade and Choquet, 2006).
A Learning Architecture for Complex Organization
We thank our colleague Barbara Re from University
of Camerino who provided us model fragments in the
scenario discussed in Sec.2. We also thank professor
Alfonso Pierantonio for the precious comments that
greatly improved the manuscript.
This research was supported by the EU
through the Model-Based Social Learning for
Public Administrations (Learn Pad) FP7 project
(619583) For further informations visit the website:
http://www.learnpad.eu. It is possible to find the
repository hosting the platform implementation,
concerning the part described in this article, here:
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