We provide education driven by student voice and student choice
In 2008, a group of educators in Michigan was frustrated by the one-size-fits-all approach to education that was working for some young people, but was frustrating and demotivating to a sizable group in their formative educational years.
Some learned faster or slower than the norm. Many learned better by doing rather than just listening and reading. Students disengaged from the traditional system were dropping out or not achieving at a level to graduate.
The education gap was widening and they wanted to do something about it.
A body of research supported a different approach to learning that engaged young people in their own education called Project-Based Learning. Instead of passively following a curriculum that followed a standard text over a set time period, the curriculum was reformed into individual projects that encouraged an inquiry or research approach to solving problems or understanding issues, or exploring new topics. Mathematics, language skills, social studies, the arts – they all became tools that one learned along the way to work on these projects.
Young people went from being students to being researchers – working on projects, and learning the skills they needed to succeed in the 21st century along the way.
To create these projects, they recruited a team of highly qualified educators who know their subject areas, and learned how to incorporate the learning standards in their respective disciplines to projects that were engaging and appropriate for young people.
The group of educators opened a school that combined this Project-Based Learning approach with the support of adult mentors, team leaders and teacher experts to guide the young people to pursue their interests in projects in both a classroom environment and later in an online environment too. The students – now referred to as researchers – could pursue their education at their own pace, following their own path, while still meeting the requirements necessary to achieve their high school diploma.
The researchers needed a way to find projects to do. They needed a way to organize their work and keep track of their progress. They needed a way to communicate and collaborate with the teacher experts and with fellow researchers. In short – they needed a system.
Here is where HERO comes in.
The team worked with technology professionals and their young people to craft a system for the researchers, so the young people could focus on their project work and their learning.
Since 2011, the HERO system has gone through a number of major changes and grown with the needs of the researchers, and those educators who are there to support them in their education. Along the way, the focus has been, and remains on how to best support young people in the pursuit of their learning