Create your own School?

Is it possible to create your own school in order to group several courses, manage dependencies among them, etc.?

Hey @sebastian_beca

It is possible to create your own school, it is also a lot of work. We are working to make it easier, but it’s still a work in progress.

What exactly are you aiming for, maybe there is an easier way to get what you want?

Hey @sebastian_beca–welcome!

I’m Vanessa, your friendly Learning Lead at P2PU. Here to help with pedagogy and getting you started. What’s your idea for a school?

Cheerio, Vanessa

Hi @vanessa,

I’m interested in the idea behind the schools. Is their primary function to cater for strategic partnerships between P2PU and other organizations? Or were they intended to be a high level grouping of similar courses? Or perhaps something else entirely?

Kind Regards,

Hey @ralfe,

I think we are a little undecided about what schools are in the context of P2PU right now. In the past they have been both partnerships between P2PU and other organizations and a higher level grouping of courses. The general idea is that people have specific interests and that they would participate more in the sub community of people with similar interests.

I assume your interest would be to group together the courses you are building and running about computer science?

Hi @dirk,

In terms of my interest in schools, yes, I am thinking about that. When I first looked through the schools, I found them to be quite arbitrary, until I started reading about the initiatives behind the creation of the various schools. I know understand the situation a bit better. Apart from my own agenda, I had some thoughts about the schools.

P2PU is positioned as a university, yet it is technically not a university, as it does not possess a degree giving license. This technicality is inconsequential, but I find the university paradigm very interesting in the context of online communities. The idea of a university as a centre of knowledge, learning and research fits this online community well. Schools (or faculties) become useful to create sub-communities separated broadly by area of focus. In the university paradigm, the school could be seen as a self organising, self contained community, which is closely linked to the “super community” of the university. Within a school, various courses, programs and activities are organised within that school, but learners may participate across schools. I think that when you have a community with a limitless scope, such a scheme of categorization is most useful, not merely as a convenient mechanism for searching through courses of potential interest due to a broad commonality, but also as a potential decentralized QA process, where the subcommunities can manage the courses which are “up to scratch” to an agreed upon standard for inclusion into the schools course list.

I’m not sure if anything I am rambling on about makes any sense, or is of any value, but in my mind, I see schools as communities within a community, which I think adds value.

At the moment, where schools represent vehicles for specific inter-organization initiatives, and I wonder how sustainabie this is, and to what degree this represents “peer-to-peer-ness”. Although, having said that, I think the School of Open is really great and also the School of Education. I just wonder how community participation occurs in terms of running those schools?

If I tie this in with the course-building work I am currently doing, I would love to see a “School of Science” be set up. I have noticed quite a number of interesting courses which would perfectly fit within the broad category (faculty/school) of Science. Perhaps it might make sense, following on from the university paradigm, to have generic schools of Humanities, Commerce, Law, and so on. I imagine a scenario where these are established as the demand arises, and managed by volunteers. Course builders could submit their courses to the volunteers for review as candidates for inclusion in the school. I see this process happening exactly like project submissions for badges, where suggestions could be made by the volunteers to the course builders for improvements, conventions to use, and so on, to aid in better quality courses being created and included within the schools.

This is just a “blue-sky” idea. What do you think?



I replied by email but I guess it didn’t work. The idea we have with a couple of groups now is to start building a ‘School of Activism’ with courses the one wouldn’t traditionally find in “main stream education”. Heterdox economics, permaculture, hacking (in the good sense), OpenSource Hardware, Permaculture, Campaigning, etc…

The idea of having a school, rather than just separate courses, is to build a community as Ralfe suggests, and also to have a roadmap of courses, with testing, certification, sharing, etc.

The school will be open and continuos, built and maintained collaboratively, so P2PU seems like the perfect platform for this. But it would be good to know P2PU guidelines and interests. We’re not going to promote anything illegal, but people can get scared when they read that anything related to Marxism!



Sorry but for some reason I’m not “allowed” to add some emoticons to my posts. : (

Historically, the main characterise of schools at P2PU had been that a small group of people (and sometimes an individual) took stewardship of a group of courses, and that usually emerged as a school.

Since P2PU is a small outfit, we didn’t have the people or the funds to run the schools ourselves, which is why schools have, in the past, emerged out of partnerships with other organisations.

That’s just background really - as an answer to your general idea, @sebastian_beca - it sounds great! Kind of reminiscent of some of the early courses that we had on our old wiki around Land restoration and Afforestation

Do you already have a community of participants in mind? Or are you planning on using the courses to build the community?

He have a group called Redec ( and there are other related groups. So we’ll probably start off with some simple courses related to Open Source Hardware from the OSE project. We’ll see how it evolves…

Hey @ralfe. What you describe about schools sounds good to me. I think like @bekka said it is mostly resources that keeps us from creating schools covering all the different areas.

I think a school of science is a good idea!! A few courses comes to my mind as well - like the course @jaumebarcelo is working on. Maybe it is worth getting together a list of the courses and contacting the creators (and maybe the alumni) to see if they are interested?

Worth noting about the School of Open is that although Creative Commons strongly leads it, there are other involved partners like the Wikimedia foundation and other individuals that felt like their courses fit into the school.

And I think what @ralfe says is a good description of the ideal behind schools - they were def meant to corral like-minded communities within a broader community, while @bekka highlights the practical issue - rather than P2PU setting up empty ‘pens’ to be filled, each has in practice come into existence when a particular community member or collaborator was enthused and equipped (ie resourced) to create a bunch of related courses. So schools have def emerged from the community rather than being created by P2PU top-down.

We’re definitely open to new schools being created, we’re there’s enthusiasm to build a new peer-learning community and keep an association with the broader P2PU community.

Hi @dirk,

I agree that it does not make sense to create a whole bunch of school, where there are insufficient resources, motivation or courses for that area. I was just thinking that it might be nice to have some kind of technical mechanism in place to be able to create a school when the need arose.

I would be happy to start putting such a list together and contacting the organisers if no one has an objection? What would be the next step after such a list of courses and willing organizers has been put together for a proposed School of Science?


The ‘one click install’ for schools never realized and given how different School of Open, School of Webmaking and School of Education has been, we don’t want to force anyone into a one size fits all mold. But we are currently working with School of Open on ways to give them more agency without leaving them to fend for themselves.

I would say the first thing to do would be to get everyone together and have a kickoff call. From there things like thinking about a landing page, branding, course sprints, critiria for courses to be part of the school, etc can be discussed.

Another thing we’d like to do is have a few existing school stewards speak of their experience on an upcoming community call - share their experience on starting and maintaining a call and a space for some discussion from others interested in getting involved. Keep an eye out for an announcement once scheduled.

Hi everyone,

As a start, I have gone through the complete listing of all courses on P2PU and extracted those which had content of a scientific nature (or which you might expect to find within a faculty of science). I then came up with an initial evaluation process, which I then applied to the various courses, and resulted in a list of 11 courses I would like to propose to be included in a School of Science. You can see all of this documented in a public Evernote page here:

My next step will be to contact the various organizers of the courses and find out if they would be willing to have their courses included in the school, and if any of them would be interested in assisting with the maintenance of such a school.


Hey @ralfe. Nice to see so many science related courses! Two thoughts on the list of requirements, 1 - courses should probably have someone taking care of them and 2 - I assume the requirements are up for discussion if we gather a bunch of people.

@billymeinke I know you are well informed in the online learning landscape and specifically science, what are your thoughts on a School of Science?

Hey @dirk @ralfe @sebastian_beca and @Carl-

A few thoughts, but first: I think this discussion could lead to good things.

I just wonder how community participation occurs in terms of running those schools?

The School of Open maintains it’s vigor largely based on activities within CC’s affiliate network. There are lots of awesome people who want to learn/share about openness, which makes the SOO pretty neat. @jane does an excellent job of coordinating the running of the courses, which is essential in keeping things glued together. There’s a SOO mailing list, too, which is the main communication mechanism.

I imagine a scenario where these are established as the demand arises, and managed by volunteers.

Yes, I’ve had similar thoughts, but hadn’t put a pen to how this would be moderated. The lovely staffers at P2PU should be able to participate in governance of the schools, but not expected to make decisions regarding them. A school-reviewing committee could be something like a working group, and as long as criteria and process for creating a school were standardized and straight-forward, it could work. It would first be up to P2PU to describe what they would expect from schools, and what they would be willing to offer reciprocally.

I assume the requirements are up for discussion if we gather a bunch of people.


Creating a schools committee could be a neat thing, if done openly :wink:

Happy to explore options.

Happy to participate in a future call on this topic!

Just an fyi – we had a schools committee in the past, in addition to lots of other p2pu working groups around schools, but then volunteers for it dropped off, largely b/c i suspect having another middleman/process to decide stuff rather than people just becoming passionate about a topic and working with volunteers and p2pu staff to make it happen as need/desire arose became more of an impediment than an aid. But that’s just my guess. Timing and people could also be a factor, so it may work better in the future!