I just created a Ning social network for the faculty and staff at my school. So far 20 teachers (out of about 120) have signed up. I'm not sure if I should be encouraged or disappointed about that...

I think the big challenge is to show teachers that the network is a valuable and productive use of their time. If I don't do that quickly it is going to fade away. People are starting to post some pictures and I've started a discussion about how to use the network.

Do you have other ideas about how I can kick start my network to get it going. I know from my experience here, that once a critical mass of people really start using the space it will start to sustain itself. Any suggestions for how to get it going would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks
-Liz

Tags: socialnetworking

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I think 20 out of 120 is a good start. I think we need to remember that this interaction over the Web stuff is a really new concept for most. Classroom 2.0 has grown into a high-functioning network and I expect very few of us 3500 members were using a tool like this prior to joining - Look what thousands of neophytes are accomplishing in a short time!
Making special content available through your Ning site seems like a good idea, and I'd also build up the water cooler aspects. Have early members of your network talk up what they are finding, gaining from being in the social network. Also, encourage everyone to join your site and other Ning networks as well- ones that suit their professional or personal interests. Maybe dabbling in their avocations (see Petbrags on Ning) will help them appreciate how a social network for your school can enrich their professional life, too.
I would personally look for some area / conversation / need where the faculty and staff could actually play a real and constructive role in helping facilitate some kind of change or improvement.

One of the things that I love about collaborative technologies is the ability to figure things out and come to better conclusions because of the interaction of diverse and creative voices. I'd look for some school decision coming up where the administration is actually willing to allow a true forum for dialog, and let the network actually result in something being done better because of it. :)
I've been meaning to say this since this discussion started--so I'll say it. I look around at my faculty and can see them worried about what they say being "out there" for others to read. It's one thing to make a comment over lunch in the teacher's lounge; it's another to post it to a blog or networking site.

I do like Steve's idea of posting some areas of concern and having the staff brainstorm possible solutions. This seems like a task we seldom are called on to do or don't have time to do in faculty meetings. I served a school once that had faculty meeting in the morning, for us early risers that was great. 3:30 in the afternoon I'n at my lowest and all I want to do is get home.
On that note, I notice members of my network—including me—sometimes converse via private message on the network. Although it doesn't make for an active public forum, it does serve its purpose in that people are networking.
I serve students in 10 different schools so I know a lot of teachers. I just can't imagine them saying what they really feel in a public forum. I can see the benefit of social networking in a school though. Teachers could post ideas about various curriculum issues, how-to, etc. Also veteran teachers could offer advice to new teachers. Hopefully the schools that use social networking as a tool are successful.
I think you're right. On classroom 2.0 it's easier to come from a place of humility because very few of us work with one another. When you're in public with colleagues who work next door to you, you might be less willing to admit you don't know something or to vent publicly. So then the focus of a network at a school site or district is more for collaboration, resource sharing, not to mention the fun of participating in a more grown up myspace -type world.
To me, it sounds as though you're interested in creating a community of practice. I'm not sure if you have already read the attached file, but I found it very useful for whenever I'm trying to encourage my faculty and course attendees to continue learning outside of workshops and classrooms. Especially when using social networks or LMS to get them all in one place.

It's titled, "Seven Principles for Cultivating Communities of Practice," (HBSWK Pub. Date: Mar 25, 2002.)
Synopsis: Although communities of practice develop organically, a carefully crafted design can drive their evolution. In this excerpt from a new book, the authors detail seven design principles. The payoff? Knowledge management that works.
by Etienne Wenger, Richard McDermott, and William M. Snyder
Attachments:
I was thinking about this idea as well. Trying to figure out a way to lure them into it. Thanks for bringing this topic up.
You are such a wealth of information and resources. I have no doubt you will succeed.

Maybe start posting a resource or how-to they can't live without each week. Get them hooked on going there to find out what new thing you added.

Then ask them to each add one resource. Maybe that will jump start the sharing. I would start with something like Clusty for dong searches or Citation Machine for citing sources. They will have to see the need to use the tool in their own classrooms. Maybe a YouTube or TeacherTube video like A vision of Students today.

I will be interested in how it goes. I am trying to do this at the university level. It is a challenge to say the least. Those that are excited about learning new stuff and it seems those excited about technology get hooked first (like you and me). But, if you find the trick to get all of them involved, I would love to know. I do think in a short time 20 out of 120 is not too darn bad. "Yippy Skippy" for you!!!!

l would love to have your input in my college class again his summer. All teachers are invited of course, maybe show it to your teachers, I bet they would like to help future teachers.... http://tecs390summer2008.ning.com

thanks
Cyndi
This is a really interesting thread. My school has started its own social network for faculty and it's been a slow but steady development. We've got about half of our faculty and staff signed up, but most people don't post. As the site develops, though, we are trying to give people reasons to participate. We're doing some professional development projects that will be based on the site and will give people from across school divisions the chance to use our ning. We're also entering another round of strategic planning and the site should be a great way for people to communicate ideas and problem solve.

All in all, this discussion thread is heartening to me -- I'm apparently not alone in bumping along on the road to web 2.0.
I'm brand new to this site. Could you explain to me, what is a Ning?
Bonnie,
this site is a ning. Its a social networking site that was set up for teachers like you to share all kinds of ideas. Most people are talking about the use of web2.0 tools in schools, hence the name, classroom20, but a ning site like this one could really be used by anyone, for pretty much any purpose(not just education). The sites are free to start your own, so maybe you would like to try it with your fellow teachers in your very spread out district. I tried to start one in my district, but my district is one square mile, and only has two schools, and we get together just about weekly, so it really didn't get used as much as I would have hoped.
Classroom20.com, however, is thriving and growing very strongly.

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