The project began with a small group of staff from different departments and service areas at Warwick. The group wished to make explicit the relationship between pedagogy and technology, and to help support the sharing and spreading of good practice across campus. The project was also an attempt to build capacity by drawing together the expertise of widely-dispersed Warwick staff and extending the reach beyond the ‘usual suspects’ who were already active members of a community of practice around effective use of technology.
E-learning is a collaborative activity (Benson et al., 2009) in which staff first look to their colleagues for support (Lane & Lyle, 2011). Developing communities of practice that promote exchange of information and sharing of resources can impact positively on adoption ). These findings underpin the TAP ethos, at the heart of which is an online repository created by staff, to share information, knowledge and critique about technologies or approaches they have used, heard about or are able to advocate. TAP pages created by staff are divided into two categories: ‘tools’ (e.g. ‘screencasts’) and ‘pedagogical questions’ (e.g. ‘how do I extend learning beyond the lecture?’) and a rich and varied collection of pages is now available.
TAP is a collaborative endeavour designed to enable ad-hoc, on-demand support around the use of academic technology, offered from colleagues who have experimented with different tools in their practice. This support, provided by peers, can help to remove the potential barriers to asking for support from a limited group of experts within an institution. Choosing the e-portfolio system Mahara for the creation of TAP pages allows for individuals to create highly personalised pages and for the presentation of a range of artefacts (text, multimedia, galleries etc) in a ‘magazine-style’ which is visually appealing. However the tool also raises challenges to be explored including encouraging colleagues to contribute to its development, strategies for drawing resources together into a single point of access, and the extent to which ‘curation’ and ‘standardisation’ of TAP pages is desirable. These challenges, and the solutions identified, will be outlined in the presentation and through the exemplar TAP resources that are shared.
The presentation will evaluate the synergies between projects taking place within the University including the Extended Classroom project (and its related part in the HEA Flexible Learning Strategic Enhancement Programme), the work of the TAP team, the Digital Tools for Researchers Online Course and the work of the Technology Enhanced Learning forum. In particular this part of the presentation will focus on how the projects work effectively to offer a spectrum of developmental opportunities for staff and students, that allow flexibility of engagement that best meets the needs of an individual. These developmental opportunities extend beyond simple use of the TAP pages as a resource by scaffolding staff and students to contribute to the growing repository. For example one new postgraduate award will support students to develop and demonstrate their understanding of technologies for academic practice by creating TAP pages of their own. The notion of student as producer, and as an equal contributor, with staff, to a University-wide body of knowledge is a key ambition of the TAP initiative.
This presentation will enable participants to understand the purpose of TAP; evaluate its ‘look and feel’, uses, and position in wider University quality initiatives; and consider the issues and opportunities that have arisen from ‘harnessing the power of the crowd’ in this way.