Our experience has suggested that the activities provided by each of the organizations will not be sufficient to encourage the kinds of daily traffic and interaction across groups that are central to our concept. We want to encourage teachers to treat TAPPED IN as the water cooler, and drop in whenever they have a few minutes to spare. TPD research ( Harris, 1995; Loucks- Horsley , Stiles, & Hewson, 1996) and our own users suggest (at least) three ways that we might motivate teachers to participate on their own: by offering access to exemplary, reform-oriented TPD content and expertise, opportunities and professional recognition for contributing to the community, and regularly occurring, TPD-focused events.
The TAPPED IN environment enables us to offer popular forms of on-line activity that teachers can participate in whenever they have the time and to enhance them in ways that we believe will help encourage teacher participation. For example, searching Websites is a solitary, time-consuming, and often frustrating experience with no guarantee of quality because resources are not filtered and annotated by peer- recognized reviewers. Moreover, few of these offerings provide the kind of public feedback mechanisms that enable the community of users to learn from each other's experiences which of the offerings are really worth their time.
To add value to individuals' Web searches, we could marry the popular Hot Website of the Week concept with the Reader Review concept. Members would be able to browse a small collection of selected teaching- related Websites, leave their own ratings and comments about the sites, and read those left by others, on a virtual document that is hyperlinked to the site. Several of our organizations have also expressed the desire to hold a regular series of small, informal, real-time events open on a first-come, first-served basis to TAPPED IN members. Events might include Website tours, discussions with researchers in TPD and school reform, and presentations by community members.
To help us understand the kinds of community-wide activities our 400+ members are interested in, we are in the process of conducting a survey asking members to rate their interest in 16 services and activities (see www.tappedin.sri.com/info/surveys/activity.html) on a 1-5 scale. After one week, we have received 21 responses (8 from teachers). The top four interests of the teachers are: Library of Websites organized by grade and subject (4.9), live librarian available (4.5), conducting an on-line project (4.1), and participating in Website tours (4.0). Three respondents indicated that they would be willing to review Websites. We will post a summary of the results on our Website.
In this paper, we described the goals and approach of a theory-based design experiment at the intersection of TPD, Internet technology, and education reform. Reform initiatives and TPD programs need mechanisms for extending their reach that computer networks can provide. Education technology research suggests that virtual communities can help teachers learn new skills and adopt new approaches that will facilitate their transition to reform-based practices. Each can substantially benefit from the experience and expertise of the other. The common ground on which the disciplines can come together is the opportunity to jointly develop effective, scaleable on-line TPD models based on the social affordances of next-generation Internet technologies.
Our goal is to help education reform practitioners understand and use emerging Internet technology in ways that facilitate the growth of sustainable and scaleable TPD communities and help accelerate teacher adoption of education reform efforts. Our approach is to understand the basic discourse-support needs of those whose business it is to conduct TPD activities, and to develop an appropriate shared venue, set of tools, and social infrastructure to enable them to go about their work efficiently and effectively. Our job as developers and support providers is to ensure that the design solutions we implement are grounded in design principles and are compatible with existing, as well as emerging, technology; otherwise, our efforts will not be useful outside the research context. Our job as researchers is to ground our work in applicable theories, investigate overarching issues that bear on the success or failure of the community, and turn the lessons back into design refinements and guidelines for others establishing their own TAPPED IN communities.
This fall ( 1997), we are beginning a 3-year series of studies to investigate the implementation process, TPD benefits and outcomes, community building, and other issues. Each category of research issues will require a combination of quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis methods. We invite interested researchers and practitioners to join us in developing innovative on-line activities and equally innovative ways of assessing their value to teachers. For more information, see our Website, www.tappedin.sri.com, or visit TAPPED IN via our WebGateway or telnet address moo.tappedin.sri.com port 7777.
The work reported in this paper has been a collaborative effort by people in several disciplines and organizations. We would like to thank our partners and acknowledge the contributions of Jorge Barrios, Marie Bienkowski, Barbara Chriss, Sharon Derry, Kimberly Ford, Chris DiGiano, Judi Fusco, Phil Gonsalves, Wayne Grant, Denise Gurer, Mary Pat Horn, Peter Hewson, Eric Mercer, Steve Sanchez, Ken Schweller, Linda Shear, Thomas Schubert, David Weksler, and especially Richard Godard, TAPPED IN ArchWiz!
This material is based on research supported by SRI International, the Walter S. Johnson Foundation (Grant