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About Tapped In

Vision: Transforming Teacher Professional Development Online

Research has shown that student achievement is directly linked to teacher quality. State and national teaching standards provide a framework for teachers' professional growth that requires teachers to engage in ongoing professional development throughout their careers. The increasing demand for continuous professional development means that providers must expand face-to-face programs to include online activities and content that engage teachers anytime, anywhere. The growing recognition that no single organization can satisfy teachers' ongoing professional development needs requires that educators and providers form communities to share strategies, resources, and support. Tapped In was developed to support this vision.

Tapped In was created by SRI International to transform teacher professional development (TPD) for professional development providers and educators. Tapped In enables providers to offer high-quality online professional development experiences and support to more teachers cost-effectively. Through Tapped In, educators can extend their professional growth beyond courses or workshops with the online tools, resources, colleagues, and support they need to implement effective, classroom-centered learning activities.

Tenant Services: Enabling TPD Providers to Meet Their Goals

Tapped In offered TPD providers and other organizations the latest in online technology, along with the online learning strategies and support needed to use online technology effectively. Through Tapped In, organizations developed, implemented, and managed online courses, workshops, seminars, mentoring programs, and other collaborative activities that supplemented, or functioned in lieu of, face-to-face activities. Tapped In experts worked with organization staff to design and facilitate online activities that are motivating, standards based, and attuned to the learning styles and technical facility of participating teachers. We helped organizations address the dual challenges of sustained follow-up support and scaling-up services to reach all who need them. Organizations also benefited from the resources and expertise of other tenant partners that participated in the Tapped In community.

Online activities took place within custom virtual buildings within the Tapped In environment. Each organization received their own building, which typically had 3 floors:

  1. A ground floor with a reception (where members find help desk staff and news) and other public rooms (conference rooms, etc.).
  2. A second floor with group rooms, which can be open to the public, moderated, or totally private. Group owners can assign moderators and permissions to group members.
  3. A third floor with personal offices for members affiliated with the organization.

Tapped In currently supports the activities of the following teacher professional development, pre-service, master's degree programs, and state and local education agencies, as well as scores of small local groups from around the globe.

Past Tenants:

  • AbleNet
  • Alameda County Office of Education (ACOE)
  • Azusa Pacific University (APU)
  • California Lutheran University (CLU)
  • Center for Language Minority Education & Research (CLMER)
  • Center for Teaching Quality (CTQ)
  • Council of Independent Colleges (CIC)
  • Galef Institute - Different Ways of Knowing (DWOK)
  • Illinois ROE #21
  • Institute for Research on Learning (IRL)
  • Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE)
  • Math Forum
  • Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS)
  • Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS)
  • National School Boards Association (NSBA)
  • New Haven Unified School District
  • National Educational Technology Trends Study (NETTS)
  • National Writing Project (NWP)
  • NCTAF Teachers Learning in Networked Communities (TLINC)
  • North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL)
  • Orange County Department of Education ACCESS program
  • Pepperdine University Graduate School of Education and Psychology (GSEP)
  • Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers to Use Technology (PT3)
  • Public Broadcasting System (PBS) TeacherLine
  • San Diego County Office of Education
  • Santa Clara County Office of Education Challenge 2000
  • Scenario-Based Learning Center (SBLC)
  • Springside School
  • Teacher Leadership Alliance (TLA)
  • Teachers for a New Era (TNE)
  • TeachAde
  • University of California at Berkeley Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS)
  • Ventura County Superintendent of Schools Office
  • Visions High School Academy
  • Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance
  • Win-Win Strategies Foundation (WWSF)

Tapped In Features

  • Virtual buildings with public, group, and personal rooms
  • Group creation and management
  • Event rooms with registration, sessions
  • Calendar system
  • Job bank
  • Guests and member access
  • Student accounts
  • Text-based chat and private messaging
  • Threaded discussion boards in every room
  • Conversation transcripts automatically emailed
  • Messages saved for someone who is not logged in
Information sharing and retrieval:
  • File and URL storage in personal and group rooms
  • Room "sticky notes" for posting welcome messages, agendas, etc.
  • Group and member directories
  • Search for members and other resources

Educator Activities: A Career-Long Online Home

Tapped In brought educators together both locally and worldwide to cultivate a community that supports each teacher as a professional. We built the capacity of teachers to support one another through peer networks supported by the Tapped In community. Educators could

  • Plan and conduct learning projects with colleagues and students.
  • Participate in or lead topical discussion and groups.
  • Manage and attend online courses offered by TPD providers.
  • Mentor other educators.
  • Try out new ideas in a safe, supportive environment.
Resources, experts, mentors, and new colleagues were available to all. Collectively, these elements of Tapped In formed a uniquely supportive, career-long online home for education professionals.

The Creators of Tapped In

SRI International's Center for Technology in Learning focuses on significant issues in learning and teaching, and on the ways that innovative uses of technologies can help address those issues. In our work, we routinely partner with education organizations, school systems, and technology companies. We also engage in participatory design of new learning technologies with our user communities.

Developers of Tapped In, left to right, include: Zaz Harris, designer and software engineer; Patti Schank, technology director and project co-director; Mark Schlager, project director from 1995 to 2008; Melissa Koch, product strategy director; Larry Hamel, software engineer (contract); Judi Fusco, community director and project co-director.

Individually pictured on the right, top to bottom: BJ Berquist and Kari Holsinger, community support; Aaron Becker, interaction designer.



Tapped In went online in 1997 with funding from the National Science Foundation, an independent U.S. government agency responsible for promoting science and engineering through various programs that fund research and education projects.

We also received support from Sun Microsystems, a leading provider of hardware, software, and services.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grants 9725528, 9616585, and 0106926. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.