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?


Tags: networking, social, socialnetworking

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Thanks Hans
I will take a look
Adding to what Hans commented on here, Ning's Terms of Service has an age restriction. It is intended for ages 13+. So that would limit your student use to grades 7-12. We also are adding Moodle and trying to develop a social site image as a front end also.
Has anyone tried Elgg as a social networking platform?
I'd like to know how it compares to Ning.
I have toyed with both but it seems as if Ning is easier to use, but Elgg is more secure for student use.
Is this the tradeoff, I wonder?

I'm not sure if we've discussed this before, but I've tried to set up an Elgg several times with no luck. At NECC last week I spoke with several people, people with actual technical expertise, about doing an Elgg install and here's what I got:

Several individuals told me just to walk away. Elgg's install is just too complicated. Others said it may be possible for a person of my (low) technical ability to get an Elgg install up and running, but once I get it there though the back end of Elgg is so rough that it becomes almost impossible to manage.

So, from reading this forum post (thanks for putting it up by the way) I think that I'm going to go headlong into setting up a ning for my American Government class. If you plan on using ning with your class as well, stay in touch during the year and perhaps we can come up with some best practices. :)
Thanks for the feedback, Glenn.

In my tinkering with Elgg versus Ning, what I did like about Elgg is that if you set up a series of questions for the kids, then those answers become tags that automatically connect them with anyone else with similar answers.

For example, if you were to ask: How would you change the world?
And I answer, Create a musical symphony that unites all cultures together in one masterpiece.
Anyone else who answered, music or something similar, would be connected to me, and I could then learn about them through their Elgg page, etc.

Ning isn't quite there. You have to search out, not have the search done for you.

(I think)


PS -- By the way, I used Elgg through a free site called Elgg Spaces -- it has advertising that you can buy out of (which must be done if you are thinking of using it with kids, I believe)
I would have loved to use Elggspaces, but it's full and not allowing the creation of any new sites. I was able to get in touch with the folks at Elgg, they were helpful, but really wanted me to head over to curve-rider to get set up. It's a bit pricey that way. Not so much if a whole school were to use it, but for a single teacher using it for a single class and going out of pocket, it was way out of my price range.
I didn't realize they had closed up over at Elggspaces.
Sorry for that lead, Glenn.
Currently, we're using Think.com. It's great, but the kids want to design their own space, in ways that ning allows. I also like the idea that it very much mirrors what students are looking for in myspace/facebook... being able to create a "sub-community", and see it as a great tool for teachers to work with students in such a community at an early age so they learn the necessary skills (ethical/safety/etc) with guidance before taking off for these sites on their own.
I love the idea of using a social network with kids! I teach 5th graders, Kevin, and noticed that one of the first things the students did on their blog site was create their "page". I can imagine how much they would love to create a full "myspace" type page and then interact with other students. Imagine a place where all the students we meet in blogsites can join in almost realtime discussions in a place like this. You have to let me follow along with your testing Kevin. I would love to try it out myself.
Maybe we can experiment this coming year with an elementary social network space.
Are there any restrictions from ning... ? such as, members need to be 13+? Does ning offer sites with no ads?
Good question.
I'll have to investigate.
I know you can "buy" out of the advertising (as Steve does here and uses the space for his company) for a minimal amount of money -- something I would find resources for because I don't want advertising in the eyeballs of my students.
My other worry -- Would kids get "invited" as friends to other Ning networks (as happens to me periodically).



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