OK, here's what I have really liked about Ning so far:

1. One place to store and comment on photos/videos
2. Flattening of discussion (all voices can be heard, even beginners)
3. Ability to use tools of Web 2.0 with low learning curve
3. Photos of everyone in the network

Some thing that I think need to be improved, and that I've emailed them about:

1. Some forum posts don't have a reply link underneath them
2. Not clear if you can change the license (to creative commons) if you pay for
the upgrade
3. Not clear if you can remove all ads if you upgrade
4. Doesn't seem that you can search the forum topics

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Understood, Steve. I love Ning, and I very much appreciate their efforts to support educational uses of their product. I think the interface is among the best of Web 2.0 to date, with unusually low barriers to entry, and I believe that Ning's educational potential is vast, even well beyond K-12. My questions and suggestions are in the spirit of "It can't hurt to ask..." I also think they might potentially be of interest to other Ning users who are not K-12 educators. For example, I can imagine all kinds of self-defined networks benefiting from the opportunity to post and share files.

In any case, thanks for all you and the Ning team have done to promote and support effective use of Web 2.0 tools in education.
Check out the new box.net application you can add to your profile page. This is one of the new "open social" apps that hold so much promise for customizing Ning networks. I think it may do much of what you want. :)

This is possible already on your "my page". Simply use a text box. Describe, create as desired. Click "save". Then, next time when you edit, click the document icon (blank page). This will upload your document and you can describe the link as you wish. You can list all the pdfs you like there. Get fancy and embed the docs from your www.scribd.com page in flash paper for reading from your mypage....

Hope you see what I mean.

I really like ning.com because it has an easy loading page and love its friendly environment.
I just wanted to echo the comment that the option to be notified of *all* community activity--e.g., discussion replies as well as new threads--would address a critical Ning flaw. Receiving a new email every time someone posts to a popular community could get overwhelming, as notice even of new discussion threads does with some vibrant communities. But that's why Google and Yahoo groups offer daily activity digests.

I've filed a Ning developers' ticket with this request, and got the response that group members can already be notified every time there's a new discussion post ... by visiting every discussion individually and specifying a preference to get notified when replies are posted. That's both exceptionally cumbersome and unrealistic.
Hi, Ford. There are two ways that you can do this. The first is to follow the "recent activity" module, mostly likely by using the RSS feed. The second also is and RSS solution--which is that there is an RSS feed for all forum discussions and all responses: http://www.classroom20.com/forum/topic/list?feed=yes&sort=mostR...

Just change the network part of the URL to your own network. :)

I tried to contact NING about the issue of ads. Can we get a K-12 category so that the ads that we have to agree to are OK and not problematic? How can we be sure this is an appropriate tool unless we go "premium"? What kind of ads are you all getting on your education NINGs?
Remember you have to be 13 to use ning.
I understand why COPPA is relevant for an open network, but I'm not clear why it would be problematic to use Ning for a closed (invitation only) network, as long as you have parental permission, teach students about internet safety, and monitor their activity so that they do not post identifying information that would endanger them. Is that explained somewhere? I don't believe Tapped In is subject to the same prohibition. I understand that's the rule, I'm just wondering why...

I'm not speaking for Ning, to be clear. But here are the hurdles I see:

Ning's whole system is based on email accounts, and as a commercial company they are then storing email addresses. Even if you make a network private, and say that you are going to create false email addresses for the students, if you don't then Ning might be seen as being liable.

I will tell you that Ning really, really wanted to help out in this area. They are very good people who are doing everything they can to help education. We're just in a tricky period of time now where the laws don't reflect an understanding of this kind of service as a positive educational activity.
Yes, clearly the law is not keeping up with the times. I don't doubt that Ning is making good efforts on this front, and I certainly understand their concerns about liability. I'm just trying to understand what differentiates one case from another.
And remember that if you're using Ning with students ages 13 - 17, Ning will remove the ads from your network. More information at http://education.ning.com/. :)



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