There's growing interest in free university, provided by tax payers, managed by government.
But we already have free learning options. You can take Harvard or MIT courses for free. You can learn pretty much anything online. Of course, we don't.
These learning materials appear basically useless to most people. What's missing are deadlines and a peer group. That's what Pacing Thing offers.
You're right – it's not going to be the same as going into the classroom. There's some advantage of having a professor explain things to you in person, rather than video. There's some advantage of having someone grade your assignment and give you feedback. There's some advantage to hearing the questions of peers in class discussion. And there is likely a hidden benefit of having a bunch of young minds in one physical place learning from older minds.
Pacing Thing doesn't do all that stuff. But it does narrow the gap between enormously expensive university and the world-class learning available right now online.
The deadlines and companionship are missing if you just go it alone. That's what Pacing Thing is for.