Many of the bloggers I know are writing about the fantastic experience at the recent National Educational Computing Conference (NECC). I learned so much that my head is swimming. There were so many sessions I wanted to attend; I wish I could have cloned myself. Then there were the exhibits...I decided to focus on sessions that could provide information for my dissertation and KAM (Knowledge Area Module) research for Walden--faculty development, technology integration in the classroom, Web 2.0.
In one such session, I was introduced to a professional development community called Tapped In. Tapped In is an online community of K-16 teachers, staff, and researchers engaged in both formal professional development programs and informal collaborative activities with colleagues. Tapped in is set up as a virtual campus, which members occupying buildings and offices. Professional development discussions occur in "rooms." What's great about all this is that it is FREE! I signed on recently and learned that they will be hosting a professional development festival on July 25.
The festival is a day-long event led by volunteer educators who share their expertise and insight while facilitating discussions with members of the Tapped In community. This year’s theme is “Playing to Learn,” featuring ways to enrich the classroom experience with games – playing them, creating them, evaluating them and incorporating them into the curriculum! Please join us for this exiting event! Check out the schedule of events at http://tappedin.org/tappedin/web/festival/
While many of the activities at Tapped In seem to be geared toward K-12, I think this environment would be a wonderful way to create faculty learning communities to discuss ways to integrate technology into higher education and to better facilitate online learning. The session I attended at NECC discussed the partnership between NCTAF and three universities who work with their area public schools (University of Washington, University of Memphis, University of Colorado at Denver) on a grant project to increase teacher retention. NCTAF has leased a "virtual building" on the Tapped In site with a floor for each of the partner sites. Within Tapped In, student teachers, new teachers, and Education professors are able to take advantage of professional development opportunities. The sites can also tailor their offerings to the participants' needs.