Success Factors Virtual Schools and Colleges

success factorsAs a result of the VISCED project, a set of critical and key success factors have been produced for virtual schools and colleges. If e-learning initiatives are to be sustainable and cost-effective, it is of the utmost importance to identify those factors that are contributing to that sustainability and that will enable setting up successful virtual schools.  The more online education and virtual schooling are shifting from small-scale experiments to large-scale, mainstream operation, this aspect will grow to be even more important.

Critical success factors

Critical Success Factors overview

CSF Name Criterion
1 Leadership in e-Learning The capability of leaders to make decisions regarding staffing, student issues, and virtual school administration is fully developed at all levels of management.
2 Market research Market research (to assess demand for virtual schooling) done centrally and updated annually or prior to major programme planning.
3 Relationship Management Effective processes designed to achieve high credibility with relevant government and public agencies
4 Technical infrastructure The technical infrastructure is reliable and fault tolerant (in terms of availability and backup) and support is readily available to the system users.
5 Usability All systems (being used to support students, teachers, and others involved) usable, with internal evidence to back this up
6 Professional development Appropriate professional development available to staff (subject matter, pedagogical principles, teaching tools which they are utilising for instruction, as well as in understanding the specific nature of students involved)
7 Learning Outcomes All teaching has clearly defined learning outcomes, which are assessed for purposes of certification and progression. Learning outcomes and their assessment are uniform for equivalent units throughout the institution.
8 Understanding the regulations Students have a clear understanding of the school/college regulations

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Key success factors

The key success factors can be thought of as management- and school- specific critical success factors, built upon the sector-wide ones outlined above. Therefore, this section is structured as an excel based toolkit, oriented at allowing virtual schools and colleges to coordinate the definition of additional success factors with their institutional goals taking into account:

  • Temporal factors
  • Environmental factors
  • Competitive strategy / geographic logic / industry position

Background documentation

In this background document an overview is provided of already existing quality and benchmarking schemes that were relevant to the VISCED project and the development of the critical success factors in one way or another:: “European and international benchmarking schemes” (PDF document)

VISCED Handbook – Virtual Schools and Colleges – Providing Alternatives for Successful Learning

VISCED Handbook - Virtual Schools and Colleges - Providing Alternatives for Successful LearningThese two volumes of the VISCED Handbook entitled “Virtual Schools and Colleges – Providing Alternatives for Successful Learning” are now available from the project team. Volume 1 includes a summary of virtual school and college activity around the world, a series of case studies, a description of a set of innovative piloting activities supported by the project and a chapter on policy challenges and opportunities. Volume 2 elaborates on good practice in online learning, describes the importance of teacher training, and includes the critical success factors as well as our recommendations for policy makers.


VISCEDThe VISCED project is working to identify and understand virtual schools across the world. This entails a systematic review at international and national levels including a study into operational examples of fully virtual schools and colleges. The outputs of this work are being analysed and compared to identify relevant parameters and success factors for classifying and comparing these initiatives.