Hyper Island was founded by Jonathan Briggs, David Erixson and Lars Lundh in 1995. With the changes coming because of digital technology, traditional ways of thinking and teaching were coming to a turning point. There was no longer just one answer for things; multiple correct responses were suddenly possible. The speed of change also continues to increase. To meet this new world, the three founders felt that a completely different school was needed.
The courses they came up with included the Executive programs for industry professionals or whole organizations, and a top-up course for working adults. The Stockholm school building is in an open- office setting, with students and staff on the same floor, and without any partitions. No particular seating was assigned. There was no specific classroom for the lessons, no fixed curriculum, no textbooks, and no permanent staff. Instead, the methodology had the students using experiential-based education, planning and putting into action their own project.
The students would create and actively participate in their own projects. The responsibility for learning was also entirely their own. Through working under a new educational system, looking for solutions to problems, and dealing with change, they would learn as they worked through the project. When they confronted a never- experienced problem as part of their experience, the staff would be there to proactively assist in finding a solution. Even making a mistake could be something to learn from and bring to the next project.
Pupils:About 400 (full-time)
Course duration:40 to 90 weeks
Schools:2 in Sweden, 1 in Manchester, UK
A great deal of the need is from digital agencies, but while the training is at the leading edge of technology, there is the issue of ensuring that the teamwork side of the training is sufficient, as this is the main focus of the training. The development of ideas and concepts behind collaboration, leadership, organization and product development are developed in the workshops, with training for new ways of thinking and reconstruction of the creative process.
An important point is that today all employees have to work using technology. It’s not a matter of one person being a digital expert, but everyone needs the knowledge and general ideas to deal with technology. Looking at it the other way, the company that can most quickly understand this is the one that will also find the earliest success.
Because there are limitations to one person’s abilities, teamwork and an understanding of the actual situation are part of the process. The students must work in collaboration other people, and also work to discover the most efficient way for the team to accomplish their work.
In actual business, smoothly accomplishing group work is linked to improved profitability. One of the reasons that there are no full-time teachers or lecturers is that each project will require that the appropriate professional for the business area be brought in, in order to have hands-on training that is in line with reality. The result is that the training provided is very close to what is actually found in the corporate or industrial world.
The daily lesson: no textbooks or tests, but the development of a new way of thinking about business together with colleagues.
Christian Olsson, who has been with Hyper Island since it’s birth. Teachers provide advice, but not answers.
Five years ago, just as social networking was becoming popular, there was increasing demand for short-term executive courses. At first this demand was from corporations, but demand was growing very rapidly from digital agencies as well. It was becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with the rapid development of technology, and many businesses were literally in a state of panic. It was for this reason that the school began its Master Class series. This was a customized, concentrated course specialized for executives, and brought in creative people, executives, accountants, and people from other fields as well. Held as an open course, it saw a large number of participants from corporations and agencies attending. Soon there was also a request for whole-company training as well. To answer this, Hyper Island again designed a custom course, with a team from the company going to the customer company for direct training courses. At present, the school is operating not only in Sweden, but conducts courses around the world. Courses conducted by sending Hyper Island staff to a company for training precisely tailored to the customer firm has now expanded to about 75 percent of the total. When the customer is a large corporation, the course is generally run on a one-year plan. If it’s a company of some 5,000 employees, with 30 people or so taking a master class, the program will normally run for about four months. A follow-up session will usually be held three months after the end of the course, which will introduce new thought patterns and methods and digital technology application.
From WORKSIGHT 02（June, 2012）
English is the main language in Hyper Island, including the courses and materials.