The IVHS is a very unique organization in that it doesn’t exist as a formal entity as part of one organization. Instead it is a statewide project with multiple organizations joining together to make this pioneering effort a success. The IVHS is an initiative of Governor George Ryan that is administered by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). Currently the administrative staff of the IVHS consists of employees from ISBE, IMSA, and University High School at Illinois State University (ISU). Earlier in the history of the IVHS, the Central Illinois Distance Education Network (CIDEN) at Lakeland College also contributed key staff. In addition, a statewide steering committee played a key role in the initial planning and conception of the IVHS. I guess the message I am trying to make in this paragraph is that the IVHS has been a statewide collaborative project that simply wouldn’t have been successful without the participation of a diverse set of educators. The collaborative approach of IVHS makes us unique compared to other statewide virtual high schools and I believe is our greatest strength.

So what exactly are my duties at IVHS? While this is a simple question, there isn’t necessarily a simple answer. Sometimes the IVHS seems more like a start-up company than a “school”. Actually I think this is good, because I believe the IVHS can serve as a catalyst to transform education. I am not saying that virtual education is going to replace the traditional classroom. No I am not saying that at all. However, virtual education at its core is about providing more opportunities for students. It is about breaking down artificial limitations to student learning that have been created in our current system. In my opinion, virtual education will do more than provide more opportunities for students. It will challenge the traditional classroom and school to be more responsive to the learning needs of our students!

Okay, well back to answering the question about my duties at IVHS. I work collaboratively with Dr. Brad Woodruff, supervisor in the eLearning Division at ISBE, to provide the strategic and operational leadership for IVHS. We have purposely decided to not have clear boundaries on how to split-up these responsibilities but instead work as a seamless team to make sure the IVHS train stays headed in the right direction. What that means practically, is that I am involved at some level in every aspect of the IVHS operations.

Luckily, we don’t do this job alone. At ISBE, we are fortunate to have Maria Gottschalk provide extraordinary program support for IVHS. At IMSA, Dr. Sandi Atols serves at the Coordinator of Participating IVHS schools and effective August 1, Minda Smith will serve as IVHS secretary. At University High School, Jim Kinsella serves as Coordinator of IVHS Instructors and of course there are the approximately 50 IVHS instructors that are contracted by ISBE to teach 1 or 2 IVHS classes per term. Our vendor partners of eCollege, Apex Learning, class.com, and Learning Station join the IVHS staff in providing services to IVHS students. eCollege provides the portal/platform for IVHS and the development environment. The other vendors provide course content. Brad Katz, an eCollege employee, serves as Director of IVHS Course Development and completes the IVHS administrative team.

I am sure you have many questions about the IVHS, so instead of going on, I am going to stop to give you an opportunity to ask your questions. But before I do, I need to give you a homework assignment! The assignment is to review our website (http://www.ivhs.org). This website, contains a wealth of information about the IVHS program and should inform you as you develop your questions for me. I look forward to receiving your questions.

Oh one last note, I am a TRUE believe in the concept of virtual/online operations and practice what I preach. I have written this lecture from a hotel room in Reno, Nevada as I take a break from my vacation. I will still be on vacation (location unknown at this point) when I receive your questions. WITHOUT the power of virtual learning, I would have been unable to participate in this course. WITH the power of virtual learning, I am able to participate with ease! Enjoy your course and I look forward to hearing from you.

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