T4T4T was a Ministry of Education-funded 15-month pilot project undertaken during the 2004 academic year. T4T4T 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, outside education departments or colleges of education, had limited formal teacher training or expertise. The emphasis of the pilot 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.
A research component was included in the project and the final research report was submitted to the Ministry in April 2005.
Trained mentors from each of the four institutions involved provided professional support for the teachers in the project. Each mentor selected and invited small groups of about 12 tertiary teachers 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. They were also required to provide action research reports on their experiences that were incorporated into the research report. A coordinator provided guidance and support to the mentor group and the project overall.
The T4T4T project was based on an original idea developed and implemented in the UK for school teachers called T4T or Teachers for Teachers and adapted for a New Zealand context.
Interact was used as the web support system for the project.
Some key outcomes of the project were identified as:
- 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.