Hey Everyone -
A year or two ago, during the early stages of my foray into Web 2.0 applications, I was introduced to a web site that I really didn't quite get called Ning. My vague recollection of the original Ning was that one could create various items to share with others such as a list of books. I recall exploring it a bit, not finding it particularly user friendly or compelling, and setting it aside for other Web 2.0 tools.
Fellow ITM blogger Steve Hargadon revived my interest in Ning last spring. Using Ning, he created two online communities that I joined, and I found that this social networking tool had completely changed since my initial exploration. In a nutshell, anyone can create a customized space online, make it public or private, and invite others to participate via threaded discussions, the sharing of multimedia, and posting of blog entries. Ning communities can be further embellished with all sorts of web widgets that are available from third party developers as well.
I am fascinated by how quickly Steve's Classroom 2.0 Ning caught on. Since March 2007, nearly 3000 educators have joined this group which focuses on using Web 2.0 tools (Flickr, del.icio.us, Google Docs & Spreadsheets are examples of this). For some reason the format put forth by Ning seems conducive to participation by others. Several worthwhile communities have since developed and I thought I'd share them with you this week.
I think Ning is a powerful tool because it makes it easy for educators to take charge of their professional development by interacting virtually with other like-minded souls. For instance, I've had answers to questions within hours, been directed to great edtech resources, philosophized with online colleagues about the state of education, and even met many of my fellow "friends" on Ning in person at conferences. My personal network has grown substantially because of this.
Keep your eye on Ning as it is still being developed and additional features are frequently announced. Recently, Steve started another group that focuses just on the uses of Ning within education. Ning wasn't necessarily developed as an education tool, but it seems teachers have found their Ning experiences worthwhile and are eager to try it out in their classrooms. Something has to be done about advertising within Ning sites before I will try it out with younger students, but in the meantime, it's a great tool for working with adults or maybe even high schoolers.
I hope you'll check out the following Ning groups and consider joining one or two! Let me know if you know of any other good Nings!
1) School 2.0
This is one of Steve Hargadon's original Ning sites and it focuses on rethinking schools under 21st century terms.
2) Classroom 2.0
Here's a very active group in which people explore the use of emerging technologies in education.
3) Ning in Education
4) Global Education Collaborative
Yes, this is a shameless plug for a Ning that I started and have been nurturing. If you're interested in global education related topics, this is the Ning for you. Many educators from around the world have joined this adventure and are in need of global collaborative partners. If you are looking for resources, projects, and ideas, this is the place for you! We will be holding our first online meeting this Sunday evening CST. Email me if you're interested in participating.
5) Literacy Coaches
Matthew Needleman's new literacy site is designed to support coaches in his district using the Open Court reading series, but it is open to everyone and growing! Literacy coaching is a fairly new concept to me and I'm interested in it as its practiced in my new set of schools.
6) Open Education
Learn more about Open University's open source courses and materials here.
7) Library 2.0
A plethora of librarians have gathered here to share ideas and resources.
8) Learning 2.0 Conference
This event is taking place right now in Shanghai. Isn't is amazing how we can now follow along and learn virtually? This is the Ning that interests me the most right now!