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FSNet News #14 -- February 2, 2000


1 Announcements:

1.1 IISME Deadline Extended

2 Issues & Best Practices:

2.1 Virtual Enterprise Visitation
by Barbara Brewer, Washington H.S., SF

3 Resources:

3.1 The InVEST High School Program


__1.1 IISME Deadline Extended

New Summer Fellowship Program Deadline is February 29, but the sooner you apply the sooner they can enter your data and send out your information to companies. See for applications.


Register now for KIDS WHO KNOW AND DO 2000, the 8th Annual Conference on Project-Based Learning, March 31 - April 1, 2000, at the San Francisco Hilton Towers. You can download a brochure, registration form, or register online at

The San Francisco STC Partnership and BaySCAN will be presenting a workshop describing how PBL is a great way to provide connecting activities between school-based and work-based learning in a School-to-Career context. Learn how the San Francisco STC Partnership collaborated with SFUSD, Autodesk Foundation, and BaySCAN to add real world connections to its business and finance career path curriculum. The presenters will share organizational tools and strategies used to help teachers to develop and implement projects. A panel of teachers will share their STC based projects and comment on the value of this new process.

Register by February 15 to qualify for the special Early Bird registration fees. Also registrations for Thursday's pre-conference school-based institutes and workshops go fast, so sign up soon.


__2.1 Virtual Enterprise Visitation by Barbara Brewer, Washington H.S., SF

Barbara recently attended a presentation on Virtual Enterprise and has graciously agreed to share the following report with us. Thanks Barbara!

Report on Virtual Enterprise Visitation-January 13, 2000

This program has two or three components depending on how it is run. A classroom starts a business from scratch. Students work in teams to research the feasibility and profitability of different business. The students present the best one to the class. The class decides on a business. Departments are established. Most businesses had five departments: administration, human resources, marketing and sales, accounting, and public affairs. Students then apply to the department for which they are interested in working after the business has been chosen. The application process includes a resume, application, cover letter, and interview. A committee made up of school personnel as well as business partners often conducts the interviews. For instance an accountant came in and served on the committee interviewing the accounting staff. Points are given to each student based on interview and application packet. The student with the highest points is made vice-president of the department and others are chosen for key positions based on their points. One teacher said she then observed all of the vice presidents working over a week. From her observations, she chose the CEO. Once the staff is chosen, students begin work. The administration department develops a business plan, human resources an employee handbook, accounting a budget and accounting system, sales and marketing develop a catalog of products and advertising, public affairs may write press releases or develop a newsletter. A web site is created for each enterprise. The site is put on the Internet from each school or district's server and then linked to the central web site. The network of schools establishes deadlines for all products. Students receive assignments each week. One teacher said that she had recently moved to a system in which the CEO made weekly assignments based on the deadlines established by the network. Another part of the program includes a personal finance component. Everyone must have an account in the VirtuBank, a virtual bank set up by the network. Each school pays $150 to keep this updated all year. Students are paid a salary. They must pay rent, utilities, food and make personal purchases from the products that the students are selling as well as from other sources. Companies also buy products and services from each company. This is the way in which each virtual enterprise conducts business. Some programs included another component, an integrated Economics course in the context of the program. Some of the schools that taught economics in the program designed the course as a whole year course, others designed it as a semester long course. The class also gave business or computer credits to the student. The class was usually conducted in a two-hour block.

Classrooms were organized like businesses with cubicles, white boards and some computers. One classroom had a conference room. The coordinator said that minimum requirements included a phone, fax machine, computers with Internet access and email accounts for students. No one in the program felt that a business or computer credential or expertise were necessary. Consequently an English or history teacher could teach the program as long as s/he could integrate the program into her/his own curriculum. Students were encouraged to solve their own problems by surfing the web and calling businesses for advice. Students had many public speaking opportunities and had no problem talking with adults. Many of the students also registered for evening and summer institutes at the local junior college, which is one of the network members. The students were very excited about their programs. One student reported that she always went to the enterprise class. She was careful to make sure that she never scheduled doctors' or dentist appointments during that hour. After visiting Virtual Enterprise in NYC, the coordinator wanted to give his students the type of experience the students in New York had. (They had internships on Wall Street.) He has developed some internships and fieldtrips to a variety of trade fairs and other functions. Businesses in Bakersfield do like this program and hire many of its graduates.

The enterprises that I visited included one selling retirement plans, an electric company, a cell phone/internet provider, and a floral business. Others in the area included an employment agency. The enterprise selling retirement plans was very interesting because the students had to learn about the stock market in the context of their business. Consequently this seemed a perfect way to integrate economics curriculum into the classroom. One visitation site was a partnership academy. The way in which it was organized was that in tenth grade the students learned computer applications. In the eleventh grade they learned about business procedures. In the twelfth grade they conducted the virtual enterprise as well as completed their portfolios that are presented to a committee made up of school and business partners at the end of the year and are a graduation requirement.

This program originated in Europe and is used as a practice business experience. Students in Europe are hired into business after completing the program. The program runs in 67 countries. The program is growing to the Central Coast and northern California. There was a northern California meeting this week in Pleasanton. I was invited to attend, but had other things to do. In order to participate in the program, the coordinator said, a teacher must attend the March 29th - 31st 2000 training, pay $150 to participate in the VirtuBank and he said something about another $1500 investment. The web address is


__3.1 The InVEST High School Program

The Insurance Vocational Education Student Training (InVEST) program was developed through sponsorship by the Independent Insurance Agents of America, Inc. and endorsed by the National Association of Insurance Women. InVEST is a high school business education course which uses simulations to prepare students for various insurance related occupations.

Students form and operate model insurance agencies and an insurance company home office in the classroom. Students rotate through the various positions in the home office and also act as agents. By doing so, the students actually experience all aspects of insurance business activities. Included in these activities are processing applications, rating, accounting, and claims handling. Insurance industry members partner with schools to provide materials and training as well as guest speakers, office visits for the students, and internships.

Contact me if you would like more information.

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