Tag Archives: work environment

Virtual School Work Environment

Virtual Schools Have Unique Work Environments

by Mark Sivy

virtual schoolThis post content was taken from my dissertation study and findings surrounding virtual school leadership. What I found was that interview responses concerning the work environment were generally similar from one leader to the next. Differences in the findings were usually due to the number and type of staff and their geographic proximity to one another.

External Work Processes

There were multiple discussions of the leaders interacting with individuals outside their virtual school for the purpose of assuring the school’s operation and success. The most frequent reference was dealing with the school districts that the virtual school served. The leaders often found themselves in role of working with school principals or district administrators to set the foundation for smooth interactions between the schools. Occasionally a virtual school leader was involved with negotiating special arrangements being made with a specific school district in terms of course content or instruction.

Beyond this, there was a mix of external involvement. Many of the leaders worked with online service vendors and course content providers to ensure cost-effective, dependable, and user-friendly services and systems for the school. The leaders also mentioned their participation in a variety of committees and professional groups where they worked on behalf of their virtual school on common topics and solutions to issues and challenges.

virtual school leader

Internal Work Processes

The requirements for and purposes of these processes are similar to those within a traditional school, but how they are carried out can vary widely due to the virtual setting. Even though many processes have been touched upon throughout the other themes, the leaders did directly discuss others that are included in this section.

One ongoing responsibility for the leaders was to position the organization to be capable of dealing with problems, changes, and new trends. This involved establishing flexible strategic plans and adaptable school goals and objectives. The leaders commonly accomplished this through teamwork and other collaborative efforts within the school.

To facilitate internal school operations, the leaders used an assortment of online, face-to-face, and hybrid gatherings to bring the stakeholders or project teams together. Some of these were strictly planning meetings, certain ones served as progress checkpoints, and others were interactive work sessions. Unless an executive decision was needed, the leaders tended to let project managers, team leaders, and the teams organize themselves and lead the progress.

virtual team

Internal Work Structure

Each school had their unique organizational pattern and hierarchy, distribution of work responsibilities, and employee work locations. This was often determined by funding, state-level directives, and the leader’s discretion. The first two created limitations, but the latter gave the leader latitude in making organizational decisions and assignments.

The individual styles, characteristics, and choices of the leaders are what gave the schools their personality and culture. The sense of trust and confidence that the leaders had to place upon their staff, mainly as a result of having so many working at-a-distance, enabled the organizational structures to remain functional and intact.

Reflection Point – “Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.” ~ Albert Einstein


A Virtual School Ecosystem Basis

A Virtual School Ecosystem Basis

by Mark Sivy

ReseacherFrom research done during a study of virtual school leadership, I discovered I had gained a substantial understanding of virtual school inner workings. A follow-up review of literature related to virtual school dynamics and processes yielded a scarcity of empirical information. With my interest and curiosity piqued, I’ve decided to undertake learning more about the ecosystems of virtual schools, cyber schools, and online educational programs.

From my recent research, the current pieces of the puzzle that make up these ecosystems include:

  1. Leadership
  2. Non-instructional staff
  3. Instructional staff
  4. Other human capital
  5. The learner
  6. Curriculum
  7. Instructional processes
  8. School work environments
  9. Teaching and learning environment
  10. External work interactions
  11. Internal communications
  12. External communications
  13. Capital resources
  14. Governance
  15. Finances
  16. Operational logistics
  17. Organizational parameters
  18. School community

Building BlocksThese 18 categories make up my present inventory of top level components. These will serve as the early building blocks and guides in my quest for additional literature and research findings. Future posts will reflect what I find and will build out each of these categories.

Reflection Point – What we find changes who we become. ~Peter Morville