The Thing About Ning: A Tech Review Ning and Social Networking Ning (www.ning.com) is where interest groups, educators, social groups, and many others can go to create a social networking site. Social networking was made famous by the sites MySpace and Facebook. The way social networking sites work is that an individual, business, or group sets up a page and then forms a network, linking together people who would care about the activities of the individual/business/group/etc. Mostly, we know it as a site where teens go to see what is happening to their network of friends and acquaintances through status updates, posted photographs, or chats. The easiest way to consider the benefits of social networking online are to think of other examples of networking, such as networking at a professional conference. A professional conference brings together a group of like-minded people who would not get a chance to meet without this common event. At the conference, people can exchange business cards or ideas. The conference may lead to a new job, a new collaborative project, or simply a new idea that helps you do your job better. In a social networking site, you are being brought together with a network of people who you may not have the chance to interact with otherwise. Ning operates similar to other social networking sites that are familiar to most students and offers blogs, forums, video streaming, and more. Here is a great tutorial about setting up a site: http://www.slideshare.net/guestdc0cf0be/latest-ning-tutorial-december-presentation-830467 Here is an example of a Ning site and instructions for students to join. Step by Step Instructions for Students: 1. Check your email to accept your invitation to join the Ning site. 2. Set up an account. Choose a username and password that is easy to remember and make sure you keep the Email address your delta address, as that is where the invitation to join was sent. 3. Take a minute to explore the home page of our website, and then click on My Page. There you will customize your settings to fit the purpose of this class site. 4. On our personal pages we are going to perform two actions. First, we are going to upload a profile picture. Next, we are going to add two profile applications. 5. Upload a photo of yourself. The camera icon will take you to an upload document screen that operates similar to the file uploads you do in Educator. I suggest everyone upload a photograph of themselves so we know who we are communicating with and to ensure that we all learn the names of our classmates. 6. Next click on “Add Profile Apps” (see the picture on step four), which will take you to a page of 152 applications. We will be adding the first one “Twitter Tracker.” Click the button “Add to My Page” 7. On “My Page” you will now change the settings on your “Twitter Tracker” by hitting the link “Settings” 8. In the terms box, type the phrase of the issue you are exploring for our class. For example, “plastic bottles.” Change your updates number to five and then hit the Save button. 9. Now click again on “Add Profile Apps” (see the picture on step four). This time you will select Box.net Files and hit “Add to My Page.” Box.net Files gives you a place to store your documents where your classmates can access them. 10. Explore! Review all the possibilities our class site has by examining all the features on the home page. In-depth Tutorials on Specific Functions: The Forum: http://help.ning.com/cgi- bin/ning.cfg/php/enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid=3491&p_sid=ysMKhJzj The Blog: http://help.ning.com/cgi- bin/ning.cfg/php/enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid=3485&p_sid=ysMKhJzj The Chat: http://help.ning.com/cgi- bin/ning.cfg/php/enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid=3424&p_sid=ysMKhJzj How I could use this in a class: For the fall, I’m developing a Composition I class that revolves around community and civic rhetoric. Through Ning, I hope students can collectively share research and form groups to tackle different problems they would like to see solved. One of the functions I particularly like for this class is the profile application, Box.net. You store and share your files there and the editor for the program is Zoho writer, which is a fairly popular program. Also, you can link Ning to Flickr, which I think could add a new dimension to the class of visual literacy as students could “remix” materials to promote their issues. One of my composition classes is online, so Ning will also add the extra value of letting students “see” each other. I also like that students have individual sites where they can blog and have rss functions, such as a Twitter feed. It really works as a central site where all student work can be housed and shared. How This Could be Used in Other Classes: When considering other disciplines two main categories came to mind, learning communities and study groups. For learning communities, it offers a central site for the courses that are linked and not integrated. Here, all instructors involved with the learning community could post files and engage in discussions. For other classes, this would be a great resource for study groups. Many times, the students who are not getting the material are the ones that don’t ask questions. And if they do ask questions, it is via email or after class. It would be much more helpful if questions or assignments could be discussed on a class site, where everyone could benefit from each other’s knowledge. This site has a much better navigation system than Educator and works like the sites that students already visit.
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