The Floating University

The Floating University

A Secret University for Women?

Some say we have come a long way, some say we have a long way to go.  But picture this The Flying University was a clandestine school that frequently changed locations because it was illegal for women to attain any higher education in German and Russian occupied Poland, at the the time.

Women, however, like the imminent scientist Marie Curie were not to be deterred and found more creative ways of educating themselves.  The first Flying University began in Warsaw in 1882, when women began inviting other women into their homes for secret classes.  Curie was one of the first to join the University along with her sister prior to earning degrees in France.  Women scholars initiated a brave underground movement where anything from philosophy or arts to science were taught.

The classes floated between private homes for years because their organisation was illegal, hence the name the Flying (or Floating) University.  Here, the women did not just exercise their intellect, but they also celebrated their native heritage free of influence from the controlling political parties at the time. 

Gone are the days when higher education and lifelong learning is reserved for a fraction of the population – either the absolute best and brightest or wealthiest – or indeed based on your body parts.

And the question now being asked is how can education be delivered more creatively to everyone.  Of course, the idea of creating a more authentic and fun learning experience is gaining momentum.  Authentic learning engages all the senses and allows students to create a meaningful, useful, shared outcome where the content collected is organised into their unique portfolio. 

We are in the early days of online learning.  And the possibilities are limitless.   You can now take practically every MIT course on iTunes University should you so desire. We now have easy access to top quality lecturers online and in many cases even being able to interact with those lecturers in real time through two-way video connections.

The aptly named Floating University, an online educational initiative that debuted in Harvard in 2011, is seeking to upset the status quo, evolve the structure of higher education and democratise access to the world’s best thinkers.  No fees, no sign-ups, with unfettered access to the original e-learning platform.  Just pure unadulterated learning.  Oh Yes!  I do believe we have come a long way…..