Mission and Vision Statements
As seen in the Purpose and Audience subject, there are many reasons for starting a program and many different approaches. Mission and vision statements can provide a concise way to share your program’s identity with a wide range of audiences. At their best, such statements guide the day-to-day decisions of the organization as it moves towards its goals.
There are countless approaches to developing mission and vision statements, and this site makes no attempt to capture the extensive literature on that particular subject. However, there are three guiding principles we suggest regarding the development of the mission and vision of your online learning program.
Principle 1: Include representatives from all stakeholder groups in your process.
If your organization is like most, you have some people who are enthusiastic supporters of your plans and others who may be vocal detractors, at least at the beginning. Most people usually fall somewhere in between. To ensure broad support, involve all three of these types in your development phase. Those vocal detractors can become your biggest and most influential supporters as they come to understand that their fears or critiques may be based on misconceptions. The enthusiasts can be your pilot team and evangelists. The moderates are those who can gain the respect and trust of a broad range of stakeholders.
Involve administrators, board members, teachers (including union representatives), parents and students in your discussions. Use this opportunity to build awareness, knowledge and enthusiasm among all members of the community. Consider involving members of the broader community, such as the mayor’s office, a local chamber of commerce or other community organization.
Principle 2: Tie the mission and vision of the program to the mission and vision of the larger organization.
Most online learning programs are part of a larger organization, such as a school, a district or a state. By clearly articulating the relationship between the larger organization and the online learning program, you will help create buy-in to the program from all members of the community. In your mission statement, use some of the same phrases as the parent organization’s mission statement, then describe how the online learning program fits into that parent organization.
Principle 3: Identify your belief statements regarding online learning.
Identifying your beliefs in regards to online learning will not only assist you in developing your mission and vision statements but will assist in making various operational decisions. For example, if one of your beliefs is, online learning will help develop collaboration skills, then you may not want to allow for open enrollment where students are less likely to be working together. In addition, this belief will impact course design decisions. Similarly, if one of your beliefs is, the online teacher is a critical part of the learning process, you will need to make sure you have set appropriate expectations for your teachers on student-teacher interaction (for more information see Types of Interactivity) and have kept the student/teacher ratio low enough to allow for this interaction.