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Nestled into a former military prison deep in southeast Sweden sits innovative digital institute, Hyper Island. Founded by three friends in a Stockholm bar, Hyper Island is a digital school designed to help likeminded individuals stay ahead of the technological curve, evolving constantly and driven to teach students how to keep one tech-focused foot ahead of other.

We spoke to Managing Director David McCall to discuss what Hyper Island actually is, how people can get involved and what their current students think about this really interesting concept.

David, could you tell us what Hyper Island is?

We’re a creative business and tech school that designs learning experiences that challenge companies, or individuals, to stay competitive in an increasingly digitized world.

What inspired you to take Hyper Island global?

My inspiration comes from the founders and their vision to create a school with no teachers, no books, and no fixed curriculum. A place where you would learn by doing, where business, technology and the creative process are all wrapped in to one. I completely agreed with this aim and since joining Hyper Island, I’ve made it my mission to take the concept outside of its Swedish roots. We’re now active across Europe, as well as Singapore, US and Brazil.

Technology is advancing so quickly, how do you predict what’s next and weave that into your programme? 

You’re right, technology is evolving faster than ever but it’s never been so exciting. We shouldn’t be scared of where it’s going.

Some schools are beginning to adopt coding as part of their curriculum. What’s your view on this, should governments be doing more?

Yes we think coding should be taught at a very early age but that is only half the story as coding languages will likely change so frequently, that what you learn at five years old will probably have changed by the time you are ten and so on. So the key is to teach yourself how to quickly unlearn the old, and recharge it with the new. It’s a mindset change.

We teach you how to do this through experience-based learning, but please remember that overall innovation comes from independent thinking, not following formula. I tell my students “invent your own” but instead of me telling you, why not talk to one of my students.

We followed David’s advice, and contacted Sarah Ing, former software engineer and web developer with a love for innovation.

Sarah, thanks for giving us some time. Could you tell us what you do here and why Hyper Island appealed to you?

I wanted to build things that could connect people to better communities so I took the Digital Experience Design course here with the guys at Hyper Island.

Simply put, I wanted to change my life. I was a programmer and this, although stable, was not enough. Hyper Island, as described by my friend who attended, is life changing. I wanted an education that would turn my perspective on its head and encourage me to question everything and push the limits of my creativity.

Hyper Island is sometimes called ‘The Digital Harvard’, what sets it apart from other tech schools?

I believe there’s a strong empowerment factor, both as an individual and as part of a group. Hyper Island gives you the space to innovate and reflect. I think that other schools encourage a more formulaic way of thinking and this can limit the ways in which students learn and explore.

What does your average day at Hyper Island look like?

An average day? Does that exist?! My day begins at 9:30am with a check-in with my group of four other students. We start with sharing our expectations for the day and then a couple hours will be devoted to smaller group work and finalising the content of our awareness campaign. We will then check in as a full group entity and after a break for lunch, we’ll work until 6pm to design and test prototypes. It’s truly exciting stuff.

What’s been your highlight since being with Hyper Island?

I really treasure the times when we give and receive feedback. After completing a group project, we deliberately set aside time to share what we appreciate and what we’d like to see more, or less, of from each other. It’s a great time to tell another person what you value about them or give them a gift by sharing something that he or she could improve upon. I’ve received a lot of insight into things I’m not aware of and I found it helpful and connecting.

Well thank you for the time, could you tell us what’s next? Is there a five-year plan for both of you?

Hyper Island has taught me to be more comfortable with the unknown so I’ve tried to plan for the future less. With that being said, I see myself doing equal parts design research and creative technologist. To expand on the latter, I’d like to continue with programming at a firm that focuses on creative projects that connect people or destroys the mundane. If I could continue on this vaguely outlined track for the next five years, I’d be ecstatic!

Curious? Enrol yourself here