‘There’s a pandemic coming, get yourselves some tablets’: Lessons from the pandemic on a community of practice approach to learning technology diffusion


  • Christopher Bridge La Trobe University
  • Birgit Loch University of New England
  • Carolyn Bell La Trobe University
  • Belinda Thompson La Trobe University
  • Dell Horey La Trobe University
  • Brianna Julien
  • Julia Agolli




Tablet teaching, learning technology, diffusion of innovation, pandemic teaching


A well-planned program for disseminating good practice in teaching with tablet computers within a large science, health and engineering faculty of an Australian university fortuitously came to fruition just in time for the switch to emergency remote teaching triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. For teachers in disciplines which rely on symbolic representation systems and hand-sketched diagrams, the tablets proved indispensable in overcoming the challenges of teaching under pandemic conditions. Our dissemination strategy was based on an initial phase of voluntary adoption supported by a well-resourced, academic-led community of practice, alongside the establishment of a library of some 80 devices. Using analyses of loan records, a survey of tablet borrowers, and in-depth interviews, we investigate the diffusion pathways of the decision to adopt, as well as tablet teaching know-how. We draw the preliminary conclusion that our community of practice approach to dissemination has wider applicability beyond our pandemic experience.

Author Biography

Birgit Loch, University of New England

Dean, Faculty of Science, Agriculture, Business and Law