"Closed" Ning? for the classroom. How "closed" is closed?

It's been recommended to me that I start a "closed" ning site for my classroom, because our technology director refuses to open any Web 2.0 resources to students in our district, and maybe having a closed site will change that.

My question, given the attempt at classroom blogging I've already made, is how closed is a closed ning site? Last summer I prepared a classroom blog using eblogger which was blocked-unblocked-and blocked again in pretty short order. The reason for that was that in eblogger, even if your blog had all kinds of restrictions on it, the site always had that dumb "go next blog" link so students could, potentially, get to all kinds of inappropriate blogs.

So, does "closing" a ning site prevent students from leaving it to go to other random ning sites or other ning sites they may belong to that are not appropriate in the school setting?

I've tried to research this on the internet and have found surprisingly little information about it.

thx,
deb

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Here is an 'easier said than done' solution--use Drupal or Wordpress to design your own blog/wesite then serve it privately. You will have to pay for the server (as low as 5 dollars a month) but you have complete control. Here is our class bolg made with Drupal. I'm sure our webmaster would help you get started.
Nancy,
I have been following your blog for a number of weeks and think that it is truly excellent! I am curious as to how to establish one for my own classroom, and am wondering if I too could get in touch with your webmaster. Please let me know at your earliest convenience!

Thanks,
Meagan
Meaghan, There are easier ways to do a class blog ( like edublogs, or blogger.com) but I like ours because it is totally secure and each kid has their own blog so it is easy to update. As I mentioned earlier it is done with Drupal (free d/l) but you would need to buy a site name (URL) and have someone host it. You can get hosting for 5-6 bucks a month. The "Drupal expert" that did ours is a former parent named Levi and you can reach him at tamarin2087 at gmail.com, I'm sure he'd answer any questions you might have. Later, N
Nancy,
Thanks so much for the info! I hope to be in touch with your "Drupal expert" soon!

Thanks,
Meagan : )
He said he'd be glad to help--I told him to be on standby!!
Our site is based on Drupal. You don't have to pay anyone! :)

It is here:

www.parentella.com

un: Mr. Pencil
pw: demo

The above is a teacher account. If you'd like to see how a teacher's posts look like for parents, you can log in as a parent.

un: Judy Jetson
pw: demo

Only parents who are in the group will see the information.
With Ning, if you set your Ning to a private one, you will lose the ability to set up RSS feeds going out from it. It is logical, I suppose. How private is it is someone can feed posts out to other websites using RSS? But, if you are like me, I depend on the RSS feed on the main page to make it easier for me to moderate.
I'll check into that RSS feed dilemma. At this point in my district we aren't doing anything with student blogs, so I'm just trying to get the door open.
You may also want to look into Epals for blogging (School Blogs). You'll get student email that way, too. You can close that site down completely. IMO, part of the power of blogging is that it opens connections and collaboration experiences that students can't get in a classroom. Your tech director, frankly, sucks. There's really not any better term than that. ;-) I understand the need to protect students, but there are so many tools out there and a variety of ways to make things safe, but interactive. Every time I read things like your post, I am ever so glad to work for a progressive, innovative district. I count my lucky stars. :-) Change happens, but it takes time. Thank you for breaking new ground in your district!
We've tried ePals with little luck and virtually no responses from their representatives when we've needed help. If you have particular insight on a good way for us to make this work, I'd be very happy to hear what we can do.
Our district contacted the ePals people and actually set it up so we have one district contact and teachers can get set up with the accounts through our IT dept. Of course, you still need to fill out the gazillion pages of info about you and your class. I get that it's a safety feature, but I also found that aspect of ePals annoying. It's supposed to be better now that we have a contact person at ePals for our district's needs.
One other thing to remember, Deb, is to disable the "share" button on your closed Ning for absolute privacy. If a student uses the share button to email another person a page of content--even in a closed Ning--an invitation will go out to the other person to join the Ning, and they may pop up on your site. At least, that's the way it was when I set up my first Ning back in October, 2008. I eventually got a piece of code from the Ning folks that made the "share" button vanish.

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