In October 2000, a national virtual high school symposium, “Building and Growing Your Online School” was organized by CiTE due to repeated requests for information from existing virtual schools, particularly in Kentucky and Florida. As those states were the first to organize at the state-level, they were strong models for other states. As the ‘first meeting of its kind,’ the need for a national organization for virtual high schools was born.
Also in October 2000, the National School Board Association’s (NSBA) “Teaching and Learning Conference” gathered a group of virtual high school leaders and led an informal discussion about the needs of K-12 virtual schools. There was a similar sense of need for greater interaction and communication among virtual schools.
In response to the initial request for a national association, many organizations and leaders were contacted to find a home for this new association within an existing organization. In each case, there was expressed support for the creation of this association, but current organizations were unwilling to expand their mission and scope to serve this new audience.
For more than two years, leaders of virtual K-12 programs continued to discuss the need to organize, share knowledge, and associate as a group. Through conferences, gatherings, conference calls and meetings, an open dialogue and spirited sharing of knowledge on multiple levels took place. Eventually, the group generated a preliminary vision and formed a planning committee, resulting in the creation of the North American Council for Online Learning (NACOL) in 2003.
NACOL was formed to advance the work of teachers, administrators and public policymakers in the field of online learning. In October 2008, the organization expanded its reach internationally, spurring a name change to the International Association for K-12 Online Learning, or iNACOL.
Today, iNACOL drives the transformation toward student-centered, next generation learning for K-12 education. As a membership organization, iNACOL supports a diverse community of practitioners and educators. We maximize our support for these education innovators by remaining on the cutting edge of the field, leveraging opportunities and constantly evolving. As an independent, non-partisan and passionate organization, we remain true to our mission and advance the work of practitioners and public policymakers.
President and CEO Susan Patrick took leadership in 2005, and iNACOL has become the leading voice in online, blended and competency education. Under her leadership, iNACOL continues to serve the field by advocating for policy transformation, sharing knowledge, and developing national quality standards.