Mission & Vision

Our mission, vision, and beliefs

Historically, IU High School has prioritized offering flexible, rigorous learning opportunities to our students; today, we strive to innovate without leaving behind the flexibility and rigor that have been our core values for many years.

IU High School’s mission and vision statements reflect our current expectations. These statements embrace IU High School’s ability and responsibility to lead the innovation of online learning for secondary education; they align with Indiana University’s vision to provide “an excellent, relevant, and responsive education across a wide range of disciplines … [while] pursuing excellent world-class research, scholarship, and creative activity.” Four Guiding Principles and accompanying Beliefs Statements specifically describe the ways in which our Mission and Vision are enacted as we move toward IU High School’s future goals.

As a set, the Mission, Vision, Guiding Principles, and Beliefs Statements below embody IU High School in its entirety, recognizing its past experiences, embracing its current expectations, and carving the pathway toward its future goals. These statements articulate IU High School’s purpose. These statements are IU High School.

Our Mission

Indiana University High School leads the innovation and implementation of online learning for secondary education.

Our Vision

As a leader in online educational institutions, Indiana University High School develops, implements, and refines standards-based, responsive pedagogy that helps learners hone strategies for critical thinking and purposeful interaction in a networked world.

Our beliefs and guiding principles

Each of IU High School’s Guiding Principles express a notion that shapes every aspect of the school’s operation. From the language our staff uses to describe learners to curricular and instructional design, these Guiding Principles help focus the IU High School team’s efforts to innovate and push the boundaries of online learning in secondary schools, while ensuring that our learners hone discreet skills through standards-based curricula. The accompanying Beliefs articulate specifically how these broader principles are enacted, and offer evidence to support and justify the decisions made using the Guiding Principles.

Belief 1: Although little is certain about the future in which today’s students will live and work, we do know that much of their future will occur in online environments. The online world, simultaneously more interactive and less interpersonal than the physical world, requires of its citizens a set of skills and tools that do not evolve in them spontaneously; it is our responsibility to teach these skills to our students. In fact, there has even been a push from the US Department of Education to build learning environments to teach the skills students need for working in a networked society (e.g., US DOE, 2010). We believe that as an online school, we are uniquely well positioned to become just such a learning environment. Our role is to understand these skills as they evolve, to respond to their evolution, and to connect our students to experiences that foster their own understanding of these skills. Although integrating these kinds of networked, production-centered communities into existing educational systems presents major hurdles that require scaffolding and careful design, our unique position as an embedded part of a research university provides us with the resources to clear those hurdles.

Belief 2: As citizens of online communities, our students are not simply passive consumers of information but also co-constructors of knowledge and co-creators of meaning. This difference is apparent when we consider the gap between the ways in which previous generations learned (using published and curated texts like textbooks and encyclopedias) and the ways in which today’s students can learn (using online resources that are uncurated, unpublished, and sometimes unreliable). Because knowledge is not static in the online world (consider, for instance, Wikipedia, which leverages the expertise of online communities to document a continually renewing and expanding body of reliable knowledge), today’s students must learn to interact with knowledge rather than to consume it uncritically and passively.

The fluid nature of information as it appears online generates anxiety among many educators whose generational and institutional positions lead them to prefer published, authoritative texts as the basis for knowledge. However, we believe that our role as educators of tomorrow’s adults must be to equip our students to participate in the evolution of knowledge, to interact with other online creators in ways that are responsible and critical, and to engage more deeply with their own learning in the process. As an online institution, we believe it is our special responsibility to innovate environments that foster these skills, designing courses that don’t simply occur in confined online classrooms but rather offer students scaffolded opportunities to experience the powers and pleasures of co-creation and collaborative knowledge construction in the virtual world.

Belief 3: Adhering to the first two Guiding Principles necessitates a redefinition of teachers’ roles in a learning environment. Rather than being a “sage” or even a “guide,” teachers in online courses must facilitate productive disciplinary engagement with content and resources. Specifically, IU High School understands learning em>as engagement that is both disciplinary (i.e., disciplinary knowledge or what experts know, and disciplinary practices or what experts do in the context of their goals and tasks) and productive (offers new questions and ideas; Engle & Conant, 2002). In this way, learners learn how to draw on the expertise not of a single teacher, but of myriad authors and creators. These experts include but are not limited to researchers, poets, writers, artists, historical figures, creators of primary source documents, instructors, learners’ own experiences and expectations, and – when made available – the experiences and expectations of learners’ peers.

Belief 4: Knowledge is not a commodity that is accessed, consumed, and developed in a strict linear timeline or within specific locations. Educational opportunities must exist beyond local place-bound community schools that limit learners’ access to information and constrain their ability to use discrete skills in various contexts