An Alabama company is taking the world of education by storm, helping empower students at every step of their academic journey and ultimately prepare them for 21st century jobs.
Hyper-Individualized Education Design, known as Hi.Ed, was founded by Duwan Walker.
Originally developed to help student-athletes easily track high school graduation progress and NCAA eligibility, Hi.Ed drew from Walker’s background as a successful football coach at programs such as the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), the University of South Alabama and Jacksonville State University.
The online platform has since blossomed into a comprehensive educational resource with five core components: Academics, Virtual Life, Compresults Tracking Tool, The Market and Athletics/NCAA Eligibility.
In a recent interview with Yellowhammer News, Walker outlined that the national student-to-counselor ratio is about 500:1.
The current features of Hi.Ed include connecting students directly with academic counselors through the virtual platform. This frees up the already-overworked counselors at respective schools, allowing them to focus on students with the most serious challenges.
“It allows our students and our parents to have transparency from school to home and to stay on track,” Walker noted. The platform has been even more beneficial during the COVID-19 pandemic, with schools having to go to remote learning options in the spring and many still doing remote or hybrid learning in the fall. Schools already utilizing Hi.Ed have been better equipped for the new normal, enabling a smoother continuity for students and parents.
The former high school and college coach said that the platform could be especially helpful for schools and school districts with relatively less resources than others. “It levels the playing field,” Walker remarked. “And it’s affordable.”
He also stressed that Hi.Ed is a way “to deliver students to careers,” allowing students to identify, explore and prepare for career pathways. This includes not only four-year degrees but also two-year degrees and skills training.
The adaptive, “first of its kind” software is currently being utilized in 10 school systems and 24 total schools. The current users of the platform have rave reviews for Hi.Ed, and Walker is “really excited” about what the service could accomplish across the entire state of Alabama and beyond.
“Our goal is to get the State on board, and to have every student in the state [be able to] access their transcript virtually,” he said.
Walker explained that Hi.Ed looks at its service offerings as a triangle, with the platform catering to three points, all working together simultaneously: K-12, two- and four-year colleges, and the workforce.
He expressed enthusiasm at Hi.Ed being able to help move the needle when it comes to Governor Kay Ivey’s bold plan to add 500,000 skilled workers in Alabama by 2025.
With tremendous opportunity for growth present for both the company and its consumers, Hi.Ed very recently joined Birmingham’s Innovation Depot, which is renowned for helping new and developing startups, especially in the tech sector.
“Our goals are the same,” Walker commented. “We want to make a difference in the innovation world, make a difference in education.”
He views Innovation Depot and its “great community” as having the potential to serve as a “launchpad” for Hi.Ed.
Innovation Depot was also glad to bring Hi.Ed on board.
Innovation Depot CEO Drew Honeycutt stated, “Innovation Depot is excited to welcome Hi.Ed to our community of innovators. Their software platform is extremely impressive and is dedicated to helping students succeed — a very worthy cause. The marketplace needs a company like Hi.Ed, and I’m proud to say that they are now Depot-based.”
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn