I'm working with a 7th grade history teacher on developing a culminating project for a New Nation unit.  I had the seed idea that we could create a social network.  The kids would all be assigned a character in history (both real and fictional).  They would 'network' about historical events and themes discussed in the unit.  I haven't yet thought through all the logistics because I don't even know if it's possible. 

My big burning question that has to be answered before we move forward is:  Does a site exist that allows for social network creation (a la Ning) that allows the organizer to assign accounts?  I can't use a ning because the kids (per our AUP) can't be required to have email addresses. 

Thanks for the suggestions in advance!!!!

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You can use Edmodo at www.edmodo.com. I have been messing around with it a bit and haven't used it with students yet but it seems pretty straight forward and no need for kids email addresses.

Good Luck,
Randy
I had never heard of Edmodo until the comments on this post, so I checked it out and it looks very intriguing. Edmodo does seem pretty straight forward from what I've seen! It has a feel that does not seem too complicated to get started -- or to keep up even. I may have to keep this in mind for the future.
You could build a multi-page Wiki. Not a social network per-say, but wikispaces.com allows teachers the ability to create accounts, thereby not requiring emails for students.

You could do a different page for each figure, hav other figures edit the pages, etc.

Not a social network, but a free, easy way to have students up and running with individual accounts without needing email.
Engrade (http://www.engrade.com) has a new Wiki feature. You can create students accounts without email addresses.
Another ideas is to use Google Sites and have the students "share" one same account (created by you through gmail).
I would love to hear more about this project in terms of how you plan to operate this idea. It sounds awesome.
I work in a economically disadvantaged school where we struggle with assigning projects that require access to technology at home. In recognizing the digital divide within my district I have embraced technology and the platforms of social media without having to use the actual program. For example, in my 10th grade world history class I have my students create a facebook page for an absolute monarch. They have to identify the biographical information, post pictures, their likes, comment on other monarchs pages, and include wall posts. The students love the activity and can complete it with or without having access to the technology. I have replicated this project with Progressives in U.S. History as well and met similar success. As per your request for a way to have students create a new nation using a social network program my suggestion might be to have students create a nation and than mimic a social networking or online application. They could create a replica facebook group page for their nation and include pictures, information, quotes, details required by the teacher creating the task. Enjoy the suggestion and thank you for the question I wrestle with a lot of the same challanges and I am very happy to find a forum where other teachers are sharing solutions.
My students tell me that Edmodo feels like Facebook.
I agree edmodo.com is exactly what you are looking for. It is specifically a social network for students and teachers. On the home page of Emodo where you can sign up, there is a video explaining how you can use the site before you sign up! Hope this helps!
From what I have looked into, either edmodo.com or engrade.com should work. Both sites are secure, free, and do not require students to sign up using individual email accounts. They would only need to enter a code to sign up for an account. They are easy for students to use and also allows you to post assignments and other class related information in one place.

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