Sustaining a Community Computing Infrastructure for Online Teacher Professional Development: A Case Study of Designing Tapped In
Community computing has recently grown to become a major research area in human–computer interaction. One of the objectives of community computing is to support computer supported cooperative work among distributed collaborators working toward shared professional goals in online communities of practice. A core issue in designing and developing community computing infrastructures – the underlying socio-technical layer that supports communitarian activities – is sustainability. Many community computing initiatives fail because the underlying infrastructure does not meet end user requirements; the community is unable to maintain a critical mass of users consistently over time; it generates insufficient social capital to support significant contributions by members of the community; or, as typically happens with funded initiatives, financial and human capital resource become unavailable to further maintain the infrastructure. Based on more than nine years of design experience with Tapped In – an online community of practice for education professionals – we present a case study that discusses four design interventions that have sustained the Tapped In infrastructure and its community to date. These interventions represent broader design strategies for developing online environments for professional communities of practice.