DIY, Alternative, and Self-Education Models

TL:DR | Learning in the modern era is a pivotal moment in history. As our educational institutions are rapidly changing, and our technology for learning is improving exponentially.

9 min read
DIY, Alternative, and Self-Education Models

Alright how do I start this post? Well the first thing is that I want to say that my endeavor to create an alternative education with the Modular Degree framework; Is not an isolated idea, and there have been plenty of people do something similar.

Hence why I think the Modegree is so important, as I think many people tried from a silo point of view. However by taking a more polymathic approach, then I can help create something much more successful. I also am trying to learn from the successes and mistakes of other previous endeavors. While there may be tools out there like Glasp, Degreed, and various MOOC platforms as well. They don't put the holistic mindset at the forefront of self-education.

Here are some various examples of endeavors I have come across. Either with links, quotes, and of course images. As some are no longer even hosting their website.

What makes a good education model?

You could answer this in one of two ways. However I think those two ways change whether or not you come from a specialist or generalist perspective.

In either case making a good, if not great, education model revolves around being able to teach any student. For example when I teach swimming I find what they anchor to. Whether it is the WHY, HOW, or WHAT, and then from there get them the information they need.

Some people want to take in the more philosophical aspects, the physical, or the psychology (respectively ^), and that is how you can identify what to teach them.

Using new course models, and the advent of AI, we can emulate that level of teaching.

The Do It Yourself Degree

This is something that not Jay or myself came up with, but rather is a societal concept. Even if we don't all straight up say it. Technically Steve Job's did this with his education, where he mixed and matched courses.

The concept needs to be revisited however, hence the reasoning behind why this post exists. As with so many amazing endeavors that have come from this idea online.

There is a resurgence of online learners, that could use the resources to help them learn.

Why is Self-Education important?

I always used to say "World Unity through Self-Development", or in this case Self-Education. They both are the same in this case.

We cannot improve as a species, let alone as an individual, without first taking the steps towards that improvement ourselves. Meaning the "self" or auto part of that equation, and being an autodidact is key to education. Even institutionalized kinds.

How does these new education alternatives relate to Higher Education as it current stands?

One thing I think most people seem to forget about college and university, is that most of the time you are learning by yourself anyways. Sure there are study groups, and lectures; However most of those can be replicated in some way with: MOOC's/courses, discourse forums/subreddits, and various course platforms have strived to do just that.

University started out as a place of continued education, rather than supposed to be the traditional path forward. We need to focus on learning skills, and taking in information over time. Rather just generic classes or degrees.

A List of Educational Endeavors

Just like with the aforementioned DIY Degree, there have been plenty more that are interesting to say the least. I hope that at the very least they helped people in the time that they were active. If not perhaps helping me forge the Modular Degree to be even better.

I'm sure I might have forgotten a couple from over the years, but I tried to include them all!


It is more than just a highlighter, it is a peer based learning network, where you can share what you learn with others. If you have a tree of notes based on content you saved, and you share that with others (and them to you). Then you both can grow.

Glasp: Web & PDF Highlighter for Researchers & Learners
Glasp is a social web highlighter that people can highlight and organize quotes and thoughts from the web, and access other like-minded people’s learning. You can also build your digital clone from your highlights and notes.


ShelfTaught is for sharing books in your areas of interest, being recognized for your expertise, and connecting with others.

Another similar alternative, book focused, is "Good Books".

Good Books is a curated collection of book recommendations from the world's most successful, influential and interesting people. We've spent 6 months analysing 15,000+ book recommendations and have handpicked the best to add to your reading list.

The University of Reddit

University of Reddit - Concept
The University of Reddit democratizes education through decentralized, peer-driven learning, inspiring similar platforms and expanding access to knowledge globally.


While I think this more categorizes with various other course platforms like Edx, they have done something completely different. That being getting a lot of non-traditional course creators.

Such as Gordon Ramsey for cooking. Basically getting the top expert in each field to make a course for them.


CourseHub is a free platform that helps PhD Students discover great PhD-level courses easily. By connecting universities and students we remove another barrier in the way of science 🧬


Access 500+ free courses across 10 categories 💬 Join 1500+ learners on SelfSchool ✔️ Access to 100% verified courses
Self-School - Product Information, Latest Updates, and Reviews 2024 | Product Hunt
🚀 Access 500+ free courses across 10 categories 💬 Join 1500+ learners on SelfSchool ✔️ Access to 100% verified courses 🔥 Access to SelfSchool community of self taught folks Support SelfSchool by buying a coffee (Donations would fund the project)


Airschool makes it easy for experts to launch their cohort-based or async courses from one place. 
Airschool - Product Information, Latest Updates, and Reviews 2024 | Product Hunt
Airschool makes it easy for experts to launch their cohort-based or async courses from one place. 🚀 -- 😻 Grab your subdomain & create your digital course. 💰 Accept payments via Stripe, PayPal, GooglePay & more. ️❤️ Monetize your knowledge.


A catalog of +80.000 courses and tutorials from the biggest providers on the internet that you can filter through based on subject, price, level of difficulty, certificate quality, reviews & rating, and more. 50% of our profits go to an incredible cause.

It seems that really took the thunder for this tool.

Scott Young's MIT Challenge

MIT Challenge - Scott H Young
In 2012, I decided to try to learn MIT’s 4-year undergraduate computer science curriculum in 12 months, without taking any classes. I was successful in passing the final exams for 33 classes and completing the required programming projects. You can view my TEDx Talk regarding the challenge, see links to all the free material I used, and see all the exams and projects I posted.

Lawrie Miller's BA in 4 Weeks

Lawrie Miller’s BA in 4 Weeks. Online degrees by distance learning. BA degree and graduate degees - Accelerated Master Degrees by Distance Learning.
BA in 4 Weeks, distance learning guide to online bachelor degree and master degrees. Degrees covered include MA, MBA, M.Ed., MS, M.Eng., MSc, LLM, and Ph.D.

Jonathan Haber's Degree of Freedom

One Year BA - Degree of Freedom
Massive Open Online Courses (or MOOCs) were in the news daily in 2013, and in order to put those emerging free educational tools to a true test, Jonathan dedicated that year to seeing if it was possible to learn the equivalent of what a student would get from being enrolled in a four-year liberal arts […]

Laurie Pickard's No Pay MBA

No-Pay MBA Blog |No-Pay MBA
How to get your business education using MOOCs and other free and low-cost online resources. Blog by Laurie Pickard, founder of No-Pay MBA.

Various Course Platforms:

Edx, Coursera, Udacity, FutureLearn, Bitdegree, Udemy, Skillshare, Masterclass, Stacksocial, DataCamp, FreeCodeCamp, Edureka*, Pluralsight, Great Courses Plus.

How can learning Digitally change Education?

I think this fundamental shift from in person to digital is going to change how we learn 10 fold. By creating the framework digitally, we can take advantage of new innovations like AI, but also create new pathways of learning.

One in particular I find really exciting is the prospect of Skill Tree Based learning. Which creates a multi-faceted course, and when you go down one path for too long. Then you can switch to another path. That way you continuously make progress, and don't let the slumps in interest keep you from learning.

A good example is Duolingo, if I find myself bored of Spanish, then I might switch to French, Esperanto, or Mandarin. Allowing myself to keep my streak going, keep myself learning, but still making progress. Then I'll switch back later.

AI-Driven LMS: The Future of Education
Welcome to the future of learning, where AI-powered learning management systems (LMS) customize every lesson to fit your way of learning…

The Modular Degree Framework - Modegree

Why do I think this framework beats out the rest? Well it takes into account the modern landscape. Most of the other endeavors don't incorporate every available learning material. Such as courses, audiobooks, books, podcasts, blogs, and videos.

Most of these tools still follow a rather ancient model of how courses should progress, and lack adaptability. In this case, modularity, think about the average student in the modern day. They are going to be on their phone, taking in information everywhere, and they need a way to curate that information.

I created the Modegree to be an alternative to college, and hopefully down the line fully replace it as the learning path. Letting college/university become what it once was, a place for further learning if you want to be in that environment.

By incorporating skill tree based courses, and traditional MOOC based courses, you can create your own diy degree. Organizing it in the way that you feel you'll learn best. I.e. do you think smaller sprints will do better, or perhaps you want to follow a more traditional semester based structure. Just with modern features.

The choice is yours, and I hope I can create this learning management platform in the future. Taking the lessons I have learned when sharing the framework, and the lessons from all of these other great endeavors shared today.

What's next?

We need to band together. One person shouldn't be alone in a room trying to create this. I think we can create something even better together. I have great ideas, but so will you, or them.

Please contact me if you have an endeavor like this, and you want to connect. I'd love to have a creative referendum or something like that. In order to progress forward.

Perhaps I'll create a whitepaper on this self-education topic as well.

What will the future of education look like in a world with generative AI?
MIT leaders in education explore the future of technology in and beyond the classroom.

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