Has anyone tried using Ning with students as a social networking/writing space? I would be most interested in knowing how it went, if it has happened, as I am considering this platform (along with Elgg) for a big online writing space for middle school students. The past two years, we have used Manila blogs and, uhhh, too complicated and didn't do what we wanted.

So if you have used social networking with students, could you give me some advice?

Thanks
Kevin

Tags: networking, social, socialnetworking

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We use Moodle and I've tried to set it up in a social way, in that there are informal areas for general chat and news and networking. But Moodle doesn't have anything like the ning interface with it's personalised 'my page' which promotes ownership of each individual's contribution to the network (or at least I don't think so). And the integration of media is very neat too (audio, video and images) - like a tasteful myspace. I wonder if Steve has payed extra for those snazzy features or are they standard in the ning set-up? I could see ning being a snazzy front-end, with a click-through to Moodle (oh no, 2 sign-ins!).
Yeah, Pete, sign-ins are difficult for some to navigate and one of my concerns with Ning is the issue of email registration, since I can't assume that the students (from urban and rural communities) will have access to email accounts. That is prob true no matter what platform I take on.
Thanks for the comments, though, and I know I need to at least consider Moodle.
Kevin
I use Moodle in class, and want to get a ning thing going as well. When you guys get it figured out, be sure to tell me, ok?! One of my paramount considerations is "Is it safe" for the kids. To what degree can we control the space? Moodle is a closed system, only worked upon by schoolmates. How would things be on ning?
I've set up a private space for students - just experimenting at the moment with a view to running it in September. So try this test - from your login try to access the ccm music network (http://ccmmusic.ning.com). You should need an invite.
Try also looking for this ning member - pete lurker. This is a test ID I made to check the student view of my network and it shouldn't appear anywhere else.
Pete

I tried your site and got no access (good) except for a form to fill out (I didn't bother but would yuo like me to do that?)
I went to Ning and searched for Pete Lurker and didn't come up with anything there.
So far, so good, right?

Any pointers on how you set it up?
Kevin
It is so cool! Just click 'create your own network' and play! If you choose private network, I don't think you can later opt to make it public.
Feedback from my students using moodle this year was that it did a good job but a profile page and space for you own media and social networking across the college would be good - ning does all that sweetly!
I would strongly suggest using Schoolloop for your middle school. There is more than just students communicating here though. It works through your district's SIS application and puts it on steroids. It costs, but if your school is moving into a SLC (Small Learning community) there is funding for Schoolloop.
We also use Moodle and another application called MyEport. Both enable the student work to be more private to the community or even totally individual. We, too, setup general forums for more liberal conversations. I no longer work directly with the students (but with the teachers) and find very few willing to take this much of a plunge. Moodle seems safer to them. I import the students from our SIS and therefore do not need email addresses. Previously I had a single login setup for Moodle and several other applications (it was programmed by an open source company).
I am going to check out schoolloop.
Thanks Clyde and Sharon

It seems that many folks are moodling these days.
Time to do some investigation, I guess.

Kevin
Hi, this is Alice Mercer
I've found a solution to the email account issue Kevin.It's one that is used on edublogs. When they are asked for an email, you can type in a gmail account name+student name@gmail.com. I did this successfully to set up a dummy account.

so the email would look like this: mizmercer+malik[at]gmail.com to sign in. I'm thinking this could make ning workable for students in elementary, etc.
I appreciate the pointer, Alice, and will give it a try.
Kevin
I followed your discussion and I must note, that Ning is not a LMS for students at the moment. There are to less features like a wiki ...
Our school is using a CMS platform. It´s the biggest one in Scandinavia and is called Fronter. You have to pay 1-2 EUR/student a year. That´s okay for us.
Have a look at http://www.fronter.info/com/
Addionally, I use a lot of OS Web 2.0 applications like Wikispaces, podomatic, blogger ....
Greetings
Hans from Germany

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