Finding is 10% looking and 90% knowing where to look. If you’re searching for the best Tiramisu, go to Little Italy (or just come to my house). If you want you want to see a rainbow, turn your back to the sun right after it rains and look up in the sky. If you can’t find your car keys, check the lock in the front door. That’s where you used them last.
If you are a teacher and you’re looking to connect with other teachers to exchange ideas, resources, and best practices, you have to know where to look. Sure, the blogosphere is great for that. But that’s not the only way to connect with other professionals online. If you go to an online community where teachers are active, you’re going to benefit from and contribute to a wider community.
Tapped In is a resource that helps you do that. This online community of more than 20,000 teachers has been around for a decade. These professionals teach every subject at every grade level. If you’re working in education, chances are there are people in Tapped In who are doing the same thing you’re doing.
By Web 2.0 standards, it’s a low-tech community. You don’t need a headset or a webcam to participate. Most of the interaction takes place in text chats or online forums. The site uses a campus metaphor, with different buildings for different tenants. Organizations can lease space on the Tapped In system, and each get their own buildings when they do. While the tenants help pay the bills, most of the users of the site are not associated with a tenant.
The heart of the Tapped In community lies in the groups. There are more than 860 groups of educators, covering everything from the “ABC’s of Tech Integration” to the “Wisconsin Catholic Library Association.”
One of the really neat things about the site is the chat interface. The site uses frames, with the Tapped In content loading in the top part of the screen, and the chat room below. As you navigate the site, you can interact with others in the chat room. There are always “help desk” people there to assist and to show you around. When you leave, a transcript of the chat session is automatically emailed to you.
On July 25, 2007, Tapped In is having a festival with the theme “Playing to Learn”. This would be a good time to introduce yourself to the community and see what it has to offer. Even if you don’t make the festival, Tapped in is definitely worth a look.
Assignment: Sign up for a free Tapped In account. Log in. Chat with the people working on the help desk. Find at least one group to join, and see what they’re talking about.