I have used NING with my 5th grade students and they LOVED it! It was an excellent resource for the kids and the parents and taught them a great deal about computer literacy. Unfortunatley, NING has recently changed their policy an in keeping with COPA regulations will not knowlingly support any users under the age of 13. I understand of course why they did this and fully support protecting children on the internet but would like to know how I can use a forum, or if there is one out there, like NING with my 5th graders? Also, I am actually locaed outside of the US in an international school. Does anyone know, if we were to use NINg does this mean we are still bound by COPA regulations?
You wouldn't be bound by COPPA, but you would still be bound by Ning's Terms and Conditions... :( I'd suggest looking at ELGG (open source software), but there aren't any services that I know of comparable to Ning for youth that age.
I just saw that too. COPA's 10 year tenure is over. Wonder what that means? I'm so please with my district right now---nothing I need is blocked. Teacher's have options to use YouTube, I think Facebook and MySpace might still be blocked--but that is all that I know of.
COPA may be dead, the I doubt Website TOS will change right away.
Your best bet is self served free and open source server based software. There are other issues anyway--data ownership, data safety, and privacy.
Elgg is one alternative that I have working with and plan to deploy in the near future. It certainly will work and I think there will be K6 specific modifications before long. I have created a few plugins that work to protect student privacy and will continue to work on modifications intended for the K12 environment.
Another alternative that is strangely overlooked is discussion forum software. There are many free, robust , and mature options in this area.
I have a lot of information about deploying open source alternatives on my blog Openedweb.
There is confusion here. COPA and COPPA are different. Ning's TOS relate to COPPA, which, as far as I know, is not dead. Because COPPA is US legislation, that's why it may not apply to those in other countries--but Ning's TOS are likely the same in all countries.