Has anyone tried using Ning with students as a social networking/writing space? I would be most interested in knowing how it went, if it has happened, as I am considering this platform (along with Elgg) for a big online writing space for middle school students. The past two years, we have used Manila blogs and, uhhh, too complicated and didn't do what we wanted.

So if you have used social networking with students, could you give me some advice?

Thanks
Kevin

Tags: networking, social, socialnetworking

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I have just started with Ning for lit circles in a middle school. As for the advertisements, they don't show up, a "blocked" window appears in it's place at school. I also read on the Ning's help site that they will hide the ads by google in you complete a set of questions ensuring them that you are indeed and educator and that this is an educational site. There is a step by step plan you need to search for it though.
Sheri,
thanks for this info - great to know that ning has a way for edu to block ads!
thanks! i have just noticed we're getting all types of inappropriate ads - i think because of the type of comments kids are leaving. match.com, muscle men, etc. our school filters block but if kids are at home...u know this would be a problem.
I really can't find this option in the help site. Do you remember any keywords about it? I will post the link if I find it.
We use Think.com also. It is a VERY closed community which is a good thing---they claim to have blogging capabilities as well as a rinky dink webpage. You can only get emails from other Think.com users (unless you add to your address book) and the "websites" are not accessed through the Internet. I hate the webpage idea, kids love it, so I let them use it.

I get the Think.com email and user names for students then we use that for all the other things we need ane mail for, i.e. wikis, blogs, etc. I'd be interest to know what teachers are looking for when they ask about the possibility of using Ning for students---what is social networking for a 10 year old? I don't think they need to willy nilly chat with other 10 year olds---they can do that at Club Penguin or Webkinz. If students are going to be using technology they need to be doing real, authenic and relavent work. Was that rambling enough?
Hi Nancy,
You are correct about the 10 year-old's. I would like to compare Ning with think.com. I hadn't heard of that yet. YOu have responded to my questions earlier, thank you.
We use Moodle but also we use a site rafi.ki which promotes international links and online collaborative working. It also allows the students to have their own pages. They enjoy using it !!

It's not free but it is a safe moderated community that has chat tools which the students love so much!
I have used both class blogmeister and think.com. Both of these have their limitations but also have very important safety features. With class blogmeister, each of the students have their own page but it is a little bit of a trick to post media with blog posts. However, it is only a blog - no other tools like a wiki, etc. Think.com provides each student with their own page and cool stuff they can add, like polls, images, videos, etc. But there is no wiki with it either.
Hi
I've used blogs, too, on a large scale (a project funded by the National Writing Project that had 300 kids from across five middle schools writing and sharing and interacting -- even one whole science experiment community) and the limitations were that the kids felt it too hard to connect directly with like-minded students. I think, and hope, that the social networking/tags bridges that gap for middle school students, who are sooooo social by nature that it is one way to hook them into writing.
Thanks for sharing the resources, Julia.
(by the way, I tried your Yackpack at your homepage but no one was there -- sorry)
Kevin
I like Ning precisely because as mentioned, students see the possibilities of friends/connecting. This is vital to any successful student centered site. I also think it is a good way to get students mixing with a new crowd and maybe seeing things in their classmates that they wouldn't otherwise, without this environment. There are safety/privacy concerns but I think there are enough moderating features to get around this.

I don't have a lot of experience with this but will be asking many of the teachers I teach, to begin a ning. I'll report back on what happens............ What I also like with ning is the ability to not just put pics and music up but to do podcasts. Students can be asked to do projects and "voice" themselves. A very inspiring thing...

DD
I agree -- the multimodal elements of expression open up a whole range of doors for our students, along with the social networking aspects of these sites (Ning is just one, of course).
Good luck with your venture.
Kevin
I just requested to be your friend. I like your take on Ning. I need more help with the positive effects of this web 2.0 tool.
Perhaps for some of you the xelos.net system might be interesting: http://www.xelos.net (unfortunately the website is only in german language up to now). This is some sort of communication portal for universities and/or schools which integrates email, forums, social networking, image galleries, a calendar, instant messaging, a customizable portal page and so on. We use it here in a university setting with about 1000 active students and they really enjoy using the plattform as it greatly fosters the communication on the campus. If you are interested just drop me a line - I can send you a demo login for those who are interested!

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