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T4T4T – an online community project for tertiary teachers

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T4T4TT4T4T was a Ministry of Education-funded 15-month pilot project undertaken during the 2004 academic year. It was a web-supported professional development community designed specifically for groups of tertiary teachers working within four Canterbury tertiary institutions.

Many of these tertiary teachers had limited formal teacher training or expertise. Trained mentors from four institutions provided professional support for the teachers in the project. Each mentor selected and invited small groups into the T4T4T community and throughout the project guided participants in the process of developing and sharing an action research-based, reflective approach to their own professional development. The emphasis of the project was on:

  • Longer-term collaboration among tertiary professionals.
  • Investigation of ways that would promote self-appraisal better understandings of effective practice.
  • Improved cross-institutional interaction.
  • Reflection on their teaching practice in an ongoing and supported way.
Key findings: 

As well as conducting the pilot, CORE Education coordinated the mentor-researchers and facilitated the internal research component of the programme. The main findings of the evaluation were as follows:

  • Online professional development needs to be part of an overall professional development strategy for tertiary institutions.
  • Online professional communities must cater for a range individual differences and a range of groupings within the community.
  • Strong facilitation is essential.
  • Effective mentoring is required. Incentives for participants to be involved should be linked with legitimate work-related reasons for participation.
  • A flexible and adaptive online environment is essential for success.
  • The design and core features of the environment should be in place from project inception.