Guidelines for using Ning in a school setting

This post was originally posted on The Freshman Transition Network.

My school system - City of Salem Schools, VA - has undergone a lengthy process to determine what types of social networking should be available on our system's network. Until recently, all social networks were blocked by our filter.

After much discussion and exploration, it was decided that social networking would be open for all faculty members. Faculty members would be treated as professionals who are able to use social networking appropriately within the work environment. (Our Barracuda filter has made it possible for us to open up certain sites for a specific group within our system.)

We also decided that access to social networking in general is not necessary for students within a school setting. In fact, it probably could lead to more harm than good. However, social networking does have educational value if used properly. Therefore, we decided that Ning would be the one social network available for use by students. Teachers have been encouraged to create Nings for use in the classroom but to follow certain guidelines to make sure that Nings can be used in a manner that maximizes safety and educational value at the same time.

If you're interested in using Ning in your school system, you might be interested in checking out the guidelines that we are using. Here they are: Ning Guidelines

I'd love to hear about anyone other guidelines that any of you have created.

Views: 32

Tags: classroom, guidelines, habeeb, ning, scott

Comment by Denise Lindstrom on February 26, 2010 at 7:26am
I'm disappointed by these Guidelines. I've been using Ning with students for three years now and have workedd with three other teachers who have used Ning. One of the reasons we like it so much is that it has made connections between students stronger. Students who were marginalized in the classroom have found acceptance and inclusion in the online context. How? posting personal photos, creating avatars with Buddy Poke, initiated discussion instead of just responding to teacher initiated postings. Yes there have been times when students have uploaded pictures that were not appropriate. Great opportunities for conversations about profile pictures and profile pages being concrete representation of we are and who we want to be! What is appropriate needs to be negotiated and students are reasonable! There have been times when conflicts between spilled over into the Ning site. This gave us insider information and helped us resolve conflicts! Out of about 300 students I've only had to ban one student for continued inappropriate participation. Ning is the perfect context to engage students in content learning but also teach Digital Citizenship but you have got to loosen it up a little or classroom adoption of SNSs will certainly diminish their appeal. Parent have only expressed relief that we are finally addressing these literacies at school!
Comment by Scott Habeeb on February 26, 2010 at 7:59am
I'm sorry you're disappointed by the guidelines that we use at our school. I fail to see how the things you mentioned in your comment relate to the guidelines. However, my suggestion would be that you definitely not adopt these guidelines at your school.
Comment by Denise Lindstrom on February 26, 2010 at 8:35am
Sorry for the strong tone my posting. I do like that you have guidelines and think that are very helpful for teachers who want to start using Ning. I went back and read them and I think I over reacted a bit. I was reacting to the third paragraph under The Purposes for Ning heading in which it is suggested that students only post things related to content. I use Ning to improve student interest in reading and writing by having students form book clubs, post original artwork, poems, stories and received feedback from their peers. But I also let them socialize. I have found it effective in helping me connect the content to students personal lives and out-of-school activity. I will share your guidelines with the others because I think they will be very effective in helping teachers get started with Ning and ensure students stay safe and productive in Ning! Thank you for posting them! I think it is important we have these conversation! Again I apologize for sounding negative!
Comment by Scott Habeeb on February 26, 2010 at 8:53am
No apology necessary. Different schools can definitely have different practices. We feel that the ability for students to post whatever they want without any sort of filter opens us up to a level of liability that:
a. we don't want, and
b. could cause the ability to use Ning to be revoked.

Most school systems I work with as a consultant have Ning blocked. If a school system is persuaded to come on board to the idea of allowing some level of social networking during the school day, that school system might want to see some safeguards in place. Of course with time some of those safeguards might be able to be removed.

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