Education, and how to do it best are always up for debate, and for lots of people who want to learn and progress the typical UK University system isn’t ideal. Here, an experiential style of learning often isn’t considered in the same way as an academic degree, but learning by doing and coming up with real solutions to real problems prepares students for what’s expected of them once they graduate.
We spoke to Sophie Bee and Lewis Greener from Hyper Island, an international digital design school launched in Sweden, that follows the principles of experiential learning. In recent years Hyper Island have expanded from their Swedish schools in Karlskrona and Stockholm to open up in New York, Singapore and Manchester, where they now deliver an MA course in Digital Media Management (DMM). Lewis explained how Hyper Island’s UK course balances the academic rigor of a traditional MA program, with regular industry input; “each of our modules is designed in collaboration with the industry, so each year we look at what’s changed and what’s really valuable in terms of skills and experience gaps. We also use real briefs for each module, and invite the clients in to the school to run appropriate workshops and feedback sessions. For example, over the past 3 years our students have worked directly with international brands including Skype, Google and Greenpeace“.
Hyper Island are based on Lever Street (where else!?), and for part of their course, students form creative agencies, who then work with local businesses to develop creative solutions, utilising the teamwork and ideation that they have been practicing. Over the past few weeks one of these creative agencies; Imagiro, have been working with our management here at Fred’s to deliver a better on line experience for our customers – so watch this space for some exciting improvements! Sophie and Lewis related how in the first weeks at Hyper Island, students are encouraged to get to know each other and to share their values, with an emphasis on collaborative ideas, creativity and perspectives. Each year-group develop their own distinct “crew culture”, because the experience of working in teams and sharing feedback is just as valuable as industry facing work.
Perhaps one of the largest differences between the Hyper Island MA and most others is that at Hyper Island there are no teachers. Facilitation staff are present to offer support, to listen, and to help the students reflect on, and evaluate their own behaviours and development. The shared spaces at Hyper Island are also much more comfortable and stimulating than your average Uni common-room or library, with 24 hour access meaning that students can work whichever hours they choose in a realistic studio environment, and an approach to attracting new students that appeals to alternative learning styles; by running workshops at graduate fairs rather than delivering a sales pitch.
Sophie described how, instead of the permanent staff delivering expertise on the course content, Hyper Island invite the industry to be Project Leaders on specific modules, ensuring that the ideas and content provided to the students is current and relevant. “Instead of having lecturers who may not have worked in industry for a few years, our project leaders will come and spend a few days at the school each week for the duration of their module. These are people who run agencies and creative teams, dealing with the same clients and challenges our students are facing day in day out, making them the perfect people to challenge and inspire our students while being able to give them feedback and advice from a real industry perspective”. This also gives students great opportunities to develop networks prior to graduation, making the prospect of swift employment much likelier.
For more information on Hyper Island visit www.hyperisland.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org to visit the school
Written by Lauren Velvick