Lansing, Mich. — This summer marks the 25th anniversary of Michigan Virtual, an educational technology non-profit. Founded in 1998 by the State of Michigan, with the support of many education and policy leaders including then-Governor John Engler, Michigan Virtual is a leader in providing school consulting, educational innovations, and online courses for students and educators.
“In 1998, the Internet was in its infancy and we were early advocates for the potential of online and blended learning. I’m proud to see Michigan Virtual evolve into a trusted statewide partner for teachers, administrators, policy leaders, parents and students throughout the state,” said Jamey Fitzpatrick, president and CEO of Michigan Virtual. “Our transformative journey spanning a quarter-century has set a standard for excellence, innovation and thought leadership. We are proud to support educators throughout Michigan.”
Since its inception, Michigan Virtual has partnered with more than 500 school districts in the state, providing more than 500,000 online course enrollments for students and more than 600,000 online professional development enrollments for educators. When Michigan Virtual was created, online learning was provided through digital offerings sent by mail. Today, students and educators can access more than 200 courses on demand from every corner of the state.
“The evolution of the education landscape is changing rapidly, and Michigan Virtual plays a key role in helping our K-12 community advance in the digital world. We are so appreciative of Michigan Virtual’s continued support of district leaders across the state, helping them access the latest in technology, research-based best practices, and innovative learning solutions for students. We look forward to what’s next and Michigan Virtual’s ongoing impact in the years to come,” said Tina Kerr, executive director of the Michigan Association of Superintendents and Administrators.
Michigan Virtual is hosting a variety of celebrations throughout 2023 to recognize their indelible impact on Michigan’s education landscape. Of note, on August 3, Michigan Virtual’s annual Collaboration of the Minds instructors’ conference at Dexter High School in Dexter, Mich. will feature special guest speaker and teachers’ advocate Mitch Albom, followed by the presentation of a proclamation from the state of Michigan. On October 6, Michigan Virtual will host an anniversary celebration to commemorate the silver anniversary of this groundbreaking organization.
According to Wendy Zdeb, Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals executive director and Michigan Virtual board member, “Michigan Virtual has grown and adapted significantly over the course of 25 years. They are a true partner to Michigan schools and have provided expanded learning opportunities for both educators and students statewide.”
In 2006, Michigan adopted the Michigan Merit Curriculum (MMC). This new curriculum was passed to better prepare students for technological changes in an increasingly global society. One component of the MMC was an online learning requirement for students, making Michigan the first in the nation to adopt this type of legislation.
“Our pioneering research has paved the way for best practices in online and blended learning, while our role as a statewide laboratory for innovation has supported schools across the state in reimagining learning models,” said Dr. Joe Friedhoff, the Vice President of Michigan Virtual.
Michigan Virtual has served as a lead research organization for the effectiveness of online learning for 25 years. The organization produces an Effectiveness Report and Annual Report which have helped to shape Michigan’s understanding of online and flexible learning models in educational settings.
“Michigan Virtual exists to experiment, research, learn, and teach others how to innovate. They are uniquely positioned to continue efforts to address persistent educational challenges by serving as a model for innovation, a provider of quality services, and a capacity builder for schools,” says national K-12 expert John Watson, Founder of Digital Learning Annual Conference (DLAC) and Evergreen Education Group.
Looking ahead, Michigan Virtual has taken the experiences of Michigan schools and students from the emergency remote learning of the COVID-19 pandemic and is focused on finding solutions through new flexible learning models to best meet the needs of the changing educational landscape.
For more information about Michigan Virtual and its history, visit michiganvirtual.org.