Students Teach Themselves? That’s Crazy!

Or is it? One of my favorite movies is called Accepted, starring an ensemble cast including Justin Long and Jonah Hill. Bartleby, played by Justin, has been rejected by every college he’s applied to (even his safety school), much to his parent’s dismay. So he implements an elaborate plan to make one up. Congratulations, he’s been accepted to South Harmon Institute of Technology! Only problem is, several hundred other kids were accidentally accepted to South Harmon too. Ooops! For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, STOP and watch the trailer below, the rest of this article depends on it (not really, but it would be nice if you did).


What does Bartleby do in the face of this academic dilemma? He visits an actual college and decides that South Harmon should be nothing like a traditional institution. He asks his students, “What do you want to learn?” He lets them set their schedules and decide the curriculum. They become the teachers and they figure out what projects they would like to spend their time on. Yes, it’s a smart and funny work of fiction, but what if I told you there’s a real place where these ideals exist.

Welcome to Hyper Island, a place where the students teach themselves. Hyper Island is an English-based program created in 1995, by 3 media professionals who were concerned about the quality of knowledge that recent graduates possessed when entering the workplace. They believed the problem was a result of traditional mainstream education in which students had little influence over what they are taught and their learning experience was controlled by a teacher. At Hyper Island there are no tests and no homework. Students work on real life projects with actual clients, solving real industry needs. Their methodology is that you “Learn by Doing.”  To quote their website Hyper Island is about:

– Active participation, driven by passion
– Learning by experiencing, doing and reflecting
– Being open to the idea of failure; it is often our most powerful learning tool
– Working and developing as part of a team, both as a leader and a player
– Using interactive media as a tool for implementing growth and change
– Developing the capacity of people to be self aware
– Understanding group dynamics
– Real clients, real needs and real lifelong learning

Hyper Island currently offers the following programs: Learning Designer & Facilitator, Digital Media, Mobile Applications, Interactive Art Director, Ecommerce Business, Motion Graphics, and Interactive Media Design & Management. They have locations in Sweden, but they encourage applicants from all around the world. Here is Hyper Island in A Nutshell


Don’t feel like this type of methodology has merit? Here are some Hyper Island Statistics:


Everytime I watch Accepted I find myself cheering for South Harmon Institute of Technology. Granted it was originally created for all the wrong reasons, but the end result was people who were excited about learning and had the passion to increase their knowledge and skills  in subjects that were important to them, hands-on. In parallel, I cheer for Hyper Island. Their unorthodox (yet sensible) methods may not be for everyone, but it’s nice to know you have the option.


Leave a comment


  1. An Award Winning 100th Post « Inside My Head
  2. Get It While It’s Hot – Artist Neopen « Inside My Head

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: