Using Ning as a School Social Network: Dianne Krause

DEN STAR Dianne Krause‘s wiki houses more resources than those for PETE&C, so you might want to visit it. Presenting 3 sessions at this conference, Dianne is a seasoned presenter. Using Ning as a School Social Network requires students, according to Dianne and law, to be at least 13 years old. She has graciously shared her work on her one-stop shop for her presentations, and I am copying that wiki work to this blog for your viewing convenience. Nothing scores higher marks from me than a presenter who shares up front her work before the fact. I get to enjoy totally the presentation, instead of clicking keys. Thank you so much, Dianne!

One of the many reasons Dianne loves Ning is because it is a walled garden; it can be open or closed, and can house synchronous conversations, blogging, and communications, as well as house a digital portfolio. The portfolio piece houses themes, movie projects, images and many more. With thumbnail sketches inside Ning, you get to see a portfolio at a glance. (I am very impressed with their reading list: Water for Chocolate and Into the Wild). The creator of the Ning has control over the Ning, but the owner of the page has control over that.

Included in Ning is a forum, but what Dianne loves is the power of the tool, great as she notes for an English class (or any humanities). Some teachers were using Blogger for comunication, but found blogs self-limiting (as a 3 year user of Edublogs, I would agree). Embracing Ning gives you more functionality, and with the PA CFF initiative and ITs/Coaches in districts, I know I am going to ask our IT to help me set up a Ning. I’m sold. Impressive was a Dynamic Scientists Ning, where students discuss impressive topics. Once you learn the navigation, Ning can be an easy tool, perhaps not as much so as Moodle, but still easy.

Dianne shared out her district’s Professional Development Ning. We were given access during the conference, but the Ning is private to protect the users, teachers, who are learning at their own speed and want that safety net as they learn and grow. Perfectly understandable. Must say I wish I could join; it is a great tool for PD. Ning takes embeddable code, but holds files that otherwise could note be added and aggregated in one place.

What I am really liking about Ning is the total customizing features of the Ning–really can make it your own. Ning is also a great place to practice; once a student posts something to Facebook, it is there forever, even when it is deleted. Not so with Ning. Space and ads can be an issue with Ning and it’s how they make their money, but they have a high limit that seems hard to exceed, and you can privatize and archive older Nings as you build new classes.

When you go to Dianne’s Prezi, check her Nings for You section; it is rich with carefully filtered Nings worth your investment in joining.

In creating your own Ning, Diane’s one caution is to be really careful when you create groups; you cannot undo whatever settings (public v. private) once you save them. Also, any right column content is likewise there to stay, and it will follow throughout the Ning on every page. Ning Help is very useful; if you cannot find an answer, Ning Support Staff will get back to you quickly.


What is Ning?

Click image to view a higher quality video…

According to Wikipedia, “Ning is an online platform for users to create their own social websites and social networks. The unique feature of Ning is that anyone can create their own custom social network for a particular topic or need, catering to specific audiences.”

What is unique about Ning?

  • Ning is unique in that is one of the only free platforms with which someone, anyone, can create their own social network.
  • Although there are other sites to create social networks, Ning is very easy to use, customize, and manage.
  • Best of all, it’s free and educators K-12 who use it can get the advertisements removed for free.
  • Creators have complete control over their networks including the selection of features, color theme for the site, images on the site, set-up of the pages, permissions of users, privacy settings and so much more.
  • To learn more about Ning and view a full list of features, click HERE.

But what is a social network?
Check out this quick explanatory video from Common Craft:

Why use Ning in School?

  • An abundance of features:
    • Profile pages – each member can customize and add content and applications
    • Groups – private or public
    • Discussion Forums – global or in groups
    • Blogging – all built in
    • Video and Photo sharing, with the ability to add comments
    • Live chat
    • Music
  • Walled Garden Approach: Nings can be private or public, depending on your needs with different moderation settings.
  • Allows for true differentiation and personalized learning.
  • 24/7 availability of discussions, resources, communication and collaboration.
  • Allows for easy local, state, and global collaboration.
  • Can be used both synchronously and asynchronously.
  • Can use your Ning as your “one stop shop” for everything you’d like to do online with your students.
  • Can be used for digital portfolios – students post their work to their pages.
  • Ning in Education Ning

Why use Ning for Professional Development?

  • The online environment is suited for some people’s time frames and learning styles.
  • Allows for 24/7 availability of discussions, resources, communication and collaboration.
  • Collaboration can be both synchronous and asynchronous.
  • Collaboration can occur cross-district with faculty from other schools, grade levels and subject areas.
  • It evolves into a virtual storehouse for resources, tools, tips, tricks and communication.
  • It serves as a way to share best practices without having to take formal in-service time to do so.
  • Sharing of resources that are specific to grade and subject as well as general resources valuable to all.
  • An easy-to-use platform for communication and information dissemination to all members.

Wissahickon’s Ning

Visit WSD Professional Learning Network

The employees of WSD have their own Ning network called the WSD Professional Learning Network. It is closed to the public and accessible only by invitation.

Watch the video below to learn more about WSD’s Ning.Live video chat by Ustream

How to Create a Ning

Although the screenshots in some of these resources are outdated since Ning’s facelift, the information is still relevant and helpful.

Complete Step-by-Step Tutorial


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