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A Virtual Enterprise is a simulated business that is set up and run by students to prepare them for working in a real business environment. With the guidance of a teacher ("facilitator") and real-world business partners, the students determine the nature of their business, its products and services, its management and structure, and engage in the daily operations of running a business. Emphasis is placed on using current business software, communications, and the Internet for business transactions.
More and more classroom teachers have found ways to bring the business world to their students through programs such as the Stock Market Game and Junior Achievement. These programs teach entrepreneurship and practical skills that are essential to career readiness while promoting healthy competition to motivate students. The Virtual Enterprise Program follows in the footsteps of these other efforts, and has the added advantage of linking students in a global business network. This simulation takes the teacher outside of the traditional instructional paradigm and then places the students on the front lines of the business world.
As the network of student-run businesses in the United States continues to grow, virtual enterprises are linking together in regional, national and global networks so that the firms have each other as trading/business partners. Such a network permits standardization and coordination of activities among all firms within a city, state, or country.
Virtual Enterprise began in Europe after WWII, though the idea dates back to apprenticeship concepts of the 17th century. There are now over 3,000 Practice Firms (as they are called outside the USA) in Europe, Canada, Australia, Asia, and Latin America.
In 1994 and 1995, representatives from the New York City Board of Education first observed the success of the program on a visit to schools in Vienna, Austria. They decided to pioneer the concept in the United States. The first Virtual Enterprise program in the United States was implemented in seven New York City high schools in September 1996. Currently, there are over 350 practice firms operating in the United States at secondary and post-secondary levels.
The following information is a summary of activities for the Virtual Enterprise International™ program at Blackman High School, and the Tennessee expansion.
The Rutherford County School District and Blackman High School in partnership with the TN Department of Education established the Tennessee Virtual Enterprise International™ in 2005-2006. Blackman High School is the location of the Virtual Enterprise Center (VEC) for the State of Tennessee. This center acts as a central office (and clearing house) for the Tennessee Network and serves as a link to other national and international firms
For teachers/facilitators, the center offers annual training and staff development activities, curriculum resources and consulting. For students, the center offers electronic banking and mail services, web page links, company resources, and network coordination of activities, workshops, teleconferences, and competitions.
For more information contact the TN VEI Director, Cindy Boyd at [email protected]
Since all schools are basically the training ground for the future's workforce, the Virtual Enterprise Program is leading the way in workforce preparation. As the business world constantly changes, the business education world must also change to meet the needs of industry. A simulated working environment, equipped with the latest business technology, will allow students and teachers to enter the virtual business world in the pursuit of global business skills through project based instruction. When Virtual Enterprise students graduate and enter their prospective career path, they bring with them a core of skills founded in the Business Education Career Path.
Virtual Enterprise students understand the implications of global changes and the role of the United States as a major player in the international system. Change is the constant in international, political, social, and economic systems; and Virtual Enterprise is comfortable in this changing world. The goal of every Virtual Enterprise is to combine the motivation to succeed in a chosen field with the skills necessary to manage career advancement. We believe that well prepared, highly motivated Virtual Enterprise students are among the world's best resources for the new century.
The Tennessee Virtual Enterprise serves a wide range of student abilities and interests. One strength of the program is its flexible nature. The simulation model is utilized to serve diverse student populations ranging from students in high school to community college students working on a business degree. Some school sites allow open entry, while other sites require prior course work to enroll in the Virtual Enterprise Program.
Regardless of individual models, the Virtual Enterprise Program's goal is to prepare students for the world of work. The guiding curriculum objectives that should be used by each program are outlined. Since the Virtual Enterprise Programs vary significantly, school site teachers and administrators must tailor their desired program outcomes according to their uniqueness
Pre and Post Test: Given at all schools in TN in the school year 2005-2006 that were teaching the VE program. 2006-2007 data is incomplete at this time. Data below compares Blackman and Lawrence County High School for school year 2005-06. (rural and urban)
Tennessee Virtual Enterprise students were asked to complete an exit questionnaire in the 2006-2007 year. The following tables display this Data is below: