Through decades of research, the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future (NCTAF) has documented the importance of collaboration in enabling teachers to improve their practice. Often, however, the norm for teachers in the United States is to work in isolation, cut off from colleagues and from technology that can help them access resources and expertise. This isolation is especially detrimental for new teachers, who are at the highest risk for leaving the profession.
This is why, for the past six years, NCTAF has been working to decrease teacher isolation by providing them with an active network of peers, mentors and 24/7 access to additional resources with the Teachers Learning in Networked Communities (TLINC ®) initiative. TLINC coordinates together university partners to create centers of excellence in teacher education that embed blended, face-to-face and online professional learning communities. TLINC aims to integrate emerging technologies into teacher education to support the development of new teachers and the veteran educators who mentor them.
As technologies have evolved, so has TLINC. With the generous support of the Wireless Reach ™ initiative from Qualcomm, TLINC “went mobile” as TLINC 2.0. NCTAF deployed smartphones and tablets into the hands of student teachers, mentor teachers, and college faculty at five TLINC sites to give new teachers the confidence and tech savvy to succeed (and stay) in 21st century classrooms.
TLINC sites are building communities on edWeb.net, a social networking site for educators with over 35,000 users worldwide. The power and ubiquity of mobile devices made it clear that edWeb needed a mobile app. Wireless Reach and NCTAF supported the creation of an edWeb mobile app, released on June 5, 2012. The app, built with input from TLINC 2.0 project participants, offers easier on-the-go access to online communities.
Giving new teachers a strong start in the teaching profession is the central goal of TLINC. The edWeb mobile app is a free tool that enables all educators to work together towards that goal.
"TLINC 2.0 emphasizes the importance of connectivity between teachers as a means to promote development and growth,” Dashaunda Patterson, Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology & Special Education at Georgia State University, one of the TLINC 2.0 partner sites. “This model is beneficial to teachers at all levels of practice by creating a dynamic community of learners."
TLINC 2.0 empowers student teachers not only to build their own networks, but also, with mobile devices in hand, to participate in the collaborative re-organization of schools for success in our connected, global age.