Joyce Valenza, a library information specialist and writer, expands on the advantages of using the Read/Write Web with students, specifically the advantages of using Nings. On her wiki page, Top Ten Reasons for Using 2.0 in Learning, Valenza suggests that Nings:
- open up opportunities for students to write for larger, authentic audiences
- create class environments for interaction and media sharing
- promote, support, and model creative and innovative thinking and inventiveness(NETS*T)
- engage students in exploring real-world issues and solving authentic problems using digital tools and resources (NETS*T)
- promote student reflection using collaborative tools to reveal and clarify students' conceptual understanding and thinking, planning, and creative processes (NETS*T)
- allow teachers to customize and personalize learning activities to address students' diverse learning styles, working strategies, and abilities using digital tools and resources (NETS*T)
- promote collaboration with students, peers, parents, and community members using digital tools and resources to support student success and innovation (NETS*T)
- advocate, model, and teach safe, legal, and ethical use of digital information and technology, including respect for copyright, intellectual property, and the appropriate documentation of sources (NETS*T)
- promote and model digital etiquette and responsible social interactions related to the use of technology and information (NETS*T)
But what the heck is a Ning?
According to their website, a Ning is a social network that "...empowers people to create and discover new social experiences for the most important people and interests in their lives. Ning was started with a simple premise: when people have the freedom to create a new social experience online, uniquely customized for the most important people and interests in their lives with no effort, no cost, and infinite choice, the world is a better, more colorful and certainly more interesting place in which to live."
What can teachers do with a Ning?
- Create a discussion board where students can respond to your questions and to each other
- Post assignments or link handouts
- Enable each student to create a blog
- Encourage students to respond to one another's posts or blogs
- Link files, images, audio, and video files
Check out what these teachers are doing with Nings:
- I created this Ning for my 10th grade students, but am also using it to help introduce other teachers to using Nings - msward.ning.com
- Mr. Siegerman and Ms. Ward created this Ning to connect upper and underclass students - alookahead.ning.com
- Mrs. Follis has been using a Ning to help students reflect on their reading of Frankenstein at mrsfollis.ning.com
- Ms. Nash has her Benton High School students use a Ning to explore topics in zoology at nashzoology.ning.com
- The wiki page Social Networks in Education offers a huge list of teachers using Nings.
Ideas for using Nings in the classroom:
- Check out this great resource produced by EduCause: 7 Things You Should Know About Nings
- Suzanne posted this blog entry about using a Ning with her high school students. Check out the comments, too. Some great ideas!
- Mrs. Follis offers some wonderful reflections on how she has used the blog portion of the Ning to help her students better understand Frankenstein.
How to Create Your Own Ning:
- First, head out to Ning.com to sign up. Then use the linked tutorials below to help you set-up your Ning network.
- After you set up your initial page you will be able to make changes using the “Manage” tab in the upper right of your Ning page.
- Liz B. Davis has put together a wonderful presentation on how to set-up your own Ning. Find the directions here.
- These embedded tutorials walk through the basics of setting up a Ning:
Tips for Creating Your Educational Ning:
- Get the ads removed from your educational Ning site by following these steps
- Liz B. Davis, an educator and writer, has a wonderful blog reflection on using Nings with students. Check out her post "Doing the Ning Thing"
- Jenny Luca, a teacher in Australia, also offers her reflections on using Nings with students.
Cool Nings for Educators
- All about using technology in the classroom, check out Classroom 2.0 - http://www.classroom20.com
- Ning for Educators - http://education.ning.com
- A space just for teachers at http://teachers20.ning.com
- English teachers check out Jim Burke's English Companion Ning at http://englishcompanion.ning.com
- The National Council for English Teachers Ning is at http://ncte2008.ning.com