Any radical, international, distributed/federated free online universities exist?

If not, why not?

@neil I’m also interested in this question. It’s the great failure of MOOCs.

@neil Not sure what that would look like, but if they're not out there, I guess it has to do with supply and demand.

@neil isnt that called...
the internet? 😂

(Actually possibly somewhat seriously - I never really did academia, instead the internet is, in a somewhat haphazard fashion where i've done most of my studying & teaching)

@dazinism Ha, good shout! You know what, maybe it is. It could perhaps do with a more curated syllabus and a better system of mentoring. But then, maybe it works well enough as it is.

@neil @dazinism Or is it maybe the wiki federation?

Check out the 'site network diagram' and
'federation search' at the bottom on

First answer that pops into my mind is because it would be expensive. As a general rule, distributed/federated systems are less efficient than centralized systems because you can't leverage economies of scale as much.

@neil You'd have to stretch the meaning of "university" pretty far to give it those adjectives. A university can't be distributed because, apparently, all of the knowledge is concentrated in professors. That's why "learning environments" exist.

A distributed university would not have dedicated environments, and thus not have knowledge "concentrated" in a small number of people. Is this the idea?

The internet is a contender, but lacks a pervasive norm of inquiry.

@kdsch "university" as in coherent facilitator of higher education.

I was thinking distributed more as in geographically, not necessarily in knowledge of a subject. Also more from a technical infrastructure perspective - i.e. instances communicating with each other, not a centralised platform such as the existing MOOCs.

I am completely OK with subject-matter experts, mentoring others in a particular domain. Though with fluidity in that a professor in one area would be a student in another.

I do believe a "full" educational experience you could give a child that is completely lefty is one of the things the lacking that prevents more adoption of "free" society principles.

@neil @Gin @mayel community closest thing I have found to distributed learning space with zero leaders or structures or #ds106 which runs on traditional university campuses as well

@neil @Gin @mayel IIRC, many exiled Turkish academics have been doing these-or-similar, I think?

I'm pretty sure is one of those (although it might be a different-but-related part of that broader movement)?


challenge #1 is making a distributed wiki software. challenge #2 is getting people to use the multiwiki. once you can share and organize information, you have *most* of what you need to run a class. of course, then you have *also* accreditation and other higher education bureaucracy to deal with if you want to hand out Walkaway U diplomas that mean anything outside of federation space.
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