A first year teacher was denied an ad-free ning site for her 5th/6th grade class.

At times, there are ads that pop-up on the side bar that are not appropriate for the age group or the classroom environment.

Here are two unedited examples of Google Ads:

10 Rules of Flat Stomach
Cut Down 9 lbs of Stomach Fat every 2 Weeks by Obeying these 10 Rules.
FatLoss4Idiots.com

24 Yr Old Makes Big Money
Makes More Money than both Parents Combined. He is showing others how.

--------------------

Here is the email from ning customer support:

Hi there,

I'm sorry to inform you that you cannot create a network for 5th and 6th
graders. This is against our Terms of Service and Federal Law.

In order to read more about this please take a look at our Terms of
Service and COPPA, in the links below.

http://about.ning.com/tos.php

http://coppa.org/

Please let me know if you have any other questions regarding this.

Cheers,
Mariko
-----------

The teacher's initial reaction is to use blogger to create a class blog and blogs for all of her students.

She has an open house tomorrow night.

What would you recommend that she do?

Apparently, it is against NING Terms of Service and Federal Law to create a network for K-6 grade students. Is this true?

Tags: ad, federal, free, law, ning

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You should ask this question on http://networkcreators.ning.com/

I have seen some discussion of Ning for Kids on that site but I cannot find the discussions right now.
I believe the students have to be thirteen years old to participate in a ning.
You are right the comment I was thinking of was from Mariko and it was about the age 13 requirement.
Most "free" hosted solutions are out of reach for children under 13 because COPPA restricts the information that they can collect from children under 13.

I'm afraid the same applies to blogger:

"You must be at least thirteen (13) years of age to use the Service. Google reserves the right to refuse service to anyone at any time without notice for any reason."

I have always advocated setting up free and open source software on either the school's server or on rented server space. This can be done for little money and protects the privacy of the children. You also should have this reviewed by your tech committee.
Since the open house is tonight, the teacher set-up classroom blogs on classblogmeister and edublogs. Over the next two weeks, she will select one of the services for the school year.

Here is a post in 2006 from at third grade teacher that makes a strong case for classblogmeister.
She needs to use fictitious personal information for the kids if she is going to stay within the law. Classblogmeister actually suggests doing so.
I guess it's a little late, but you could use Studeous (http://www.studeous.com). It's like Ning, but tailored for education.
And it's ad free.
That may be the reason our district, too, just across the board denies access to Nings, even these great professional ones. It is a pretty conservative cautious district in these regards, denying access to elementary classes (and their teachers, without unblocking-paperwork required) that are open to middle school and above, requiring permission to access the really good professional blogs like David Warlick, Bit by Bit, Will Richardson, etc. (the several of which I have burned rubber getting unblocked) because it is a blog. I could not even get permission to use Class Blogmeister, although we were using SWIFT, a regional Moodle-like (I suppose) program, and access to the discussion boards was not even password protected. We finally last year got our own class blog program developed by one of our technology people who used WordPress anyway....As a technology peer coach, it's been frustrating for me to try to open up these wonderful professional development places to other teachers at every level. It is particularly annoying that such places like Classroom2.0 and its similar genres are really not available to most teachers in the places they work.

I believe this is one of the biggest challenges we have as coaches or evangelists of good use of classroom technology. One of my go-arounds is to use iWeb since the "blogs" are buried within and the automatic blockers don't evidently recognize it. It's hard to keep up at a PC school, but I do my best at midnight at home.
What is I have kids use a teacher account on ArtSnacks and homeschool kids use a parent account?
What about a tool like imbee.com = http://www.imbee.com/

~Chris
I am not intending to start a food fight here, but if she is adventurous she could always switch to Drupal. Drupal has the following advantages over Ning:

1) It is open source (she has complete control over it and does not need to follow the policies of another company)
2) She can run it on her own school domain (it can also provide the entire school website)
3) Drupal has much more flexibility and customization than Ning

Drupal of course has the following disadvantages:

1) Ning installs easily and is ready right away. Drupal is more complex and therefore takes more work and time to set up (which may or may not be an added cost).
2) Understanding what modules will be needed can also be daunting if you don't know what they do (some modules that would be an asset to a SNS would be: CCK, Views, Organic Groups, Buddy List, Panels 2 (and Og_Panels), Advanced Profile Kit, My Site, Gallery 2, there are others listed at: http://drupal.org/node/109248 that may be of interest).
3) If the school does not already have its own domain name/web server, this would be an added cost.

Personally, I like the control I have with Drupal, but depending on her situation, it may or may not be a viable option.

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