21st Century Learning:

HAHA Academy

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Why does the world need HAHA Academy?

We need location-independent learning and accreditation

Getting an education today depends on people staying in one place for a certain amount of time (be it one academic year to over a decade). This is all good and well for people who can and want to live in one place (and are lucky to live in the 'right' place), but what about for those who can't? For example:

  • Families with children who move frequently for work
  • Refugees escaping from war, climate change, and/or oppressive regimes
  • People without a permanent residence (be it due to precarious rental conditions, toxic family environments, or any other reason)

We need to support lifelong learning

Learning happens all the time, everywhere, every day - not just within classrooms and lecture halls at a specified time. Education with mandatory attendance requirements to gain qualifications does not meet the needs of millions of people for this reason. For example:

  • People who require more flexible schedules (caregivers, new parents, people juggling work and study, etc.)
  • People with mobility issues or social anxiety.
  • People who do not wish to attend their local educational institution because of its embedded toxic culture (racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, ageism, ableism, etc.)
  • And of course, people who cannot afford tuition.

We need to support self-taught learning

Internally motivated learners with proper access to resources do not need to participate in a teacher-student relationship to learn - they teach themselves. Some of the most valuable discoveries in human history have been made by a person studying a topic solo (for example, genetics, dinosaurs and electromagnetic induction). We need modern education to support self-taught learning for the sake of:

  • Learners outside formal education systems - called autodidacts. Not only do autodidacts have to deal with the social stigma that 'real' learning and research only takes place within schools and universities, the knowledge they do acquire or create has no way of being recognised and accredited
  • Students who do not get along with their teachers, for whatever reason. One bad relationship can lead to the student being isolated from the learning process entirely. The younger the student, the more vulnerable they are to a bad relationship with a teacher
  • Students in schools who prefer to learn by themselves
  • Fast and slow learners alike, who are treated as anomalies relative to others in any given group

We need to recognise learning without high-stakes examinations

Examinations are high-wire balancing acts - an exercise that plays a large factor in determining the future of a human's life - so is it any surprise that students worry themselves sick? An education system that prioritises bureaucratic objectives and forces students to endure high-stakes examinations is toxic. Which is why:

  • Students are experiencing common psychiatric disorders due to high-stress levels
  • Teachers feel restricted and unfulfilled in their jobs because they have to teach to the test
  • People treat bad assessment scores as being synonymous with low intelligence or ineptness, and carry this label for the rest of their lives.

What is the common theme interlinking these needs?

The location and time-specific nature of education, the hierarchy of the learning process and the bureaucratic nature of assessments are all symptoms of centralisation: it's a closed, top-down, one-size-fits-all model of learning which is a remnant of the industrial revolution.

Instead of the school adapting to the student, the student is expected to adapt to the school. Yet schools continue to have a monopoly on how knowledge is created and communicated, how students are expected to learn, how learning is assessed, and how knowledge and skills are accredited. For this reason it is an urgent necessity to create new systems of education for the millions of people who cannot or will not conform to the education system as it exists today.

So, what next?

HAHA Academy is being set up to provide free access and open content for anyone to learn anything and get the qualifications to back it up. There are currently six phases the HAHA Academy is looking to complete before 2020 to meet this aim:

HAHA Academy Project Timeline

Let's change the way we learn, assess and accredit knowledge.

Phase One

Beta Early 2018

Knowledge Taxonomy

The knowledge taxonomy is a crowdsourced course of study for every branch of human knowledge: a road map to learn any field in its entirety. This taxonomy will remain open to contributions indefinitely so road maps are always improved and up to date. If you think the road map to your field needs a bit more work please consider contributing your knowledge to the taxonomy.

Phase Two

Late 2018

Educational Content Aggregation

What is a taxonomy without any content? Phase two is about indexing all free educational content, materials and online courses, and linking the resources to the knowledge taxonomy. Contributors will be able to add any free content available on the Internet, and link it to the taxonomy. Where possible, HAHA will make an archive of indexed resources in order to help with their preservation and distribution, using decentralised networks and free software solutions like PeerTube for peer-to-peer video streaming without relying on proprietary ad-supported platforms like YouTube, and protocols like Dat and IPFS for other content (ebooks, images, datasets...)

Phase Three

Early 2019


How can we challenge the current notion that education cannot exist without high-stakes assessment? By creating a better system. Phase three will create assessments that can ascertain learners' knowledge when (and if) they want to, using democratic peer review approaches, innovative quizzes and tools largely influenced by Bloom's taxonomy of knowledge.

In other words, not grading learners relative to each other, but helping each learner better understand their familiarity with any given topic or subject area (if it is unknown, known or learned), and to what degree (slightly, partially or completely). The algorithms and software for assessments that incorporate will be open source, and the data used for the quizzes will come from educators and learners on HAHA.

Phase Four

Mid 2019

Open Badge Certification

Linking assessment results from HAHA Academy to Mozilla Open Badges will create digital certificates of accomplishment that include verifiable data and evidence of learning and assessment results that can be shared online as proof of knowledge.

Open Badges are open technical standards originally developed by the Mozilla Foundation which can package information about accomplishments, embed the information into portable files as a digital badge, with a decentralised infrastructure for badge sharing and validation. In other words, both formal and informal knowledge can be accredited, and autodidacts will have free and verifiable qualifications if they need them.

A system whereby only accredited colleges can offer valuable degrees is a shared monopoly across education, where you have to go down a very prescribed path to get learning that quote-unquote counts. We want to open that up.

Fixing education with technology-enhanced, student-centered and peer learning. That’s the answer to this mess.

Erin Knight, Mozilla Foundation, senior director of learning.

Phase Five

Late 2019

Online Mentorship & Skill Sharing

And what about when learners hit a wall and need an extra hand? The best person to talk to in this case is someone that has dedicated a lot of time and effort to that particular subject matter: a mentor. HAHA Academy wants to issue a mutual credit currency, the ora, to facilitate mentorship within the HAHA platform. Mentorship through a mutual credit currency (an open and fair economical system) means anyone can gain access to guidance from subject-matter aficionados in their field, without depending on money. HAHA will use open P2P protocols and free software solutions like Jitsi for real time communications.

Phase Six


Ikigai (生き甲斐): Personalised Learning

The sixth phase is the creation of a personalised learning digital assistant called 'Ikigai'. Ikigai will be able to suggest how best to tailor the learning process according to each student's executive functioning skills and knowledge, as well as recommend appropriate resources and mentors. It will also be able to suggest libre, decentralised and social good projects that are in need of the learner's particular skills, as well as recommend possible specialisations and occupations. The user will be in control over the algorithms and data used for the recommendation engine that powers Ikigai.

How can you help rebuild education for the 21st century?

By joining the league of 1000 HAHAs you can help co-create and redefine education: not only for yourself and those you care about, but for every single person on the planet who chooses to learn whatever they want, however suits them, whenever they can.

We're not interested in being some rich guy's pet project. We're not interested in being some politician or bureaucrat's cause du jour. The majority of projects today that pursue public or private funding relinquish their autonomy and ability to continue innovating and functioning long-term. Fuck that.

We're interested in building and participating in education without centralised structures, without elites, without profit motives, without hierarchy, and we want to do it independently. We can do all of this with just a little help from our friends: €5 a month from 1000 friends to be exact.

HAHA Academy is an independent non-profit organisation (registered in Estonia), which fully relies on the generous support of its volunteers and donors. Joining the league of 1000 HAHAs is the first step towards becoming an official member of the association and participating in important decisions.

Please support HAHA Academy by joining the league of 1000 HAHAs . If you're unable to contribute monthly, you can also make a one-time donation by card or

Can you help with the next phase of HAHA Academy?

We currently need volunteers to help with Phase Two:
indexing all open educational resources from around the web and linking them to the knowledge taxonomy.

The first HAHAs

Dr. Edurne Scott Loinaz

Edurne is a rogue academic and founder of HAHA Academy. After completing a PhD at the Institute of Education (UCL), she's now dedicating herself to creating alternative education systems.

Mayel de Borniol

Mayel is a programmer, tech architect and social innovator. As a self-taught and self-employed individual, he wants a world where "we don't need no thought control".

Want to know more about the project or have a question? Please read the HAHA FAQ.

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