November 1998 // Spotlight Site
Tapped In
Note: This article was originally published in The Technology Source ( as: "Tapped In" The Technology Source, November 1998. Available online at The article is reprinted here with permission of the publisher.

November's Site of the Month is Tapped In, an online community of educators from both K-12 and higher education who engage in real-time discussions and classes, browse Web sites together, learn about professional opportunities via the Internet, and interact with one another through asynchronous mailing lists and discussion boards. The site is patterned after a real-world conference center, providing space for directed professional conversation, casual browsing of resources and opportunities available online to educators, and important exchanges of ideas and possible directions for both real-world and online teaching.

The Tapped In discussion board includes such broad topics as "Grants for Teachers" and "Technology in the Classroom," as well as a few more focused topics dealing with, for example, geology and teaching tolerance. The discussion section also includes a monthly newsletter, ON THE TAPIS, containing general interest announcements and upcoming events (including, occasionally, online "block parties"), and two mailing lists, for educators looking for others to collaborate with, and, where users may post responses to and critiques of the site, and administrators share information about changes to the site. Real-time "After School Online" discussions "for teachers by teachers" are held on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.

When users enter the members' area, they are able to move from room to room with a basic navigation program called TAPestry that works in a style typical to Internet MOOs (Object-Oriented Multi-User Dimensions), participating in whatever conversations or activities they may find. The technical staff at Tapped In is also eager to help new users navigate the site—so any difficulties users may experience in accessing Tapped In's many resources can be quickly and easily remedied. The group of users typically online is also active and friendly, and generally willing to strike up conversations ranging from the seriously professional to the informally collaborative.

Another important feature of the site is that Tapped In members may store information online. This allows other users to access information about new online resources, professional opportunities, and relevant books and journal articles at any time. Members are also given a private virtual office, so that they are assured a space in which to work and hold online meetings whenever they are online.

Membership in Tapped In is free for teachers, educators, and researchers. Users with a Java-enabled browser (3.x versions or higher) can log in directly from the Web site using the TAPestry client applet. For users with older browsers or computers, client software required for the site may be downloaded, free of charge, from the Tapped In server.

In sum, Tapped In is as valuable for its educational community as for its informational resources. Tapped In provides a lively and easy to use space for communication among teachers worldwide.

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