Has anyone used Ning, or another platform, to create a social network for their school? It was discussed at a conference I was at recently and I am working with my administration to get one started.

My plan is to start by getting teachers and staff on board - creating accounts and then posting/reading. We would add the students in the fall or winter.

If you have done this: 1) what problems have your run into? and 2)What success have you had?
If you don't have one I'd also be interested in hearing your thoughts.

Thanks! Karen

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I was preparing to post concerning this issue and ran upon your starter thread.

I am a curriculum director and think that a Ning is the next huge opportunity for staff to collaborate. With 8 high schools, providing staff with opportunities to get together on a regular basis is not feasible. I began a starter project this spring with a small group of teachers.

It has been very difficult getting them to give of their time and to share with each other. I think that before I can roll something out district wide that I must answer the big question....WHY.....why should the participate, why should they give of their time, ........you and I both know the benefits, but I think that I must do a better job of educating them on the WHY before I roll it out full scale.

My discussion thread was to address the WHY. Is there any data that I can use to move their thinking? What are the top ten reasons why I should take time to participate?
Ernie, I admire your thinking but research shows and my direct experience in working with school districts to provide professional development makes me suggest this top ten list of "why I should take time to participate"

10. It would save me time.
9. It would make my job easier
8 - 4. It is required for professional development
3-1. It will help me accomplish some defined task that would engage my students to achieve better in testing.

In short, the kind of voluntary collaboration you see here is highly motivated professionals seeking out answers among those like minded professionals. Research shows that most people go into social networks seeking out answers so if that is all you are looking to offer then you'll be fine just creating such a place. But
this isn't active participation of any regularity.

I'm working right now to develop structured professional learning communities to accomplish defined district objectives (for example - how might we infuse our math curricula with 21st century teaching and learning?) - and looking for somewhere to Beta test this. Interested? Contact me at the office. Mala
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Thanks a million for posting this report!!!!!
I think the most diffucult part is getting others to participate in discussions.You build the site, they sign up..and that's it. Everyone is busy and if they don't get that "personal attention" many will not participate..losing out on a great resource for collaboration. The trick is figuring out how to keep them coming back.
As the creator of a couple NING sites, primarily for non-profit organizations, I start the conversations and engagement myself. Since I am on the "outside" of the organizations, this works out great! I can ask starter questions to the group and individual members thereby taking the level of engagement up a notch. Who does not like someone taking an interest in them and sharing their story. It helps all members find out a little more about each other.
Another thing that has worked great is using the forum or blog feature on the ning site and providing links to "current events" in the community..whether it be sports, community groups or small shops/restaurants.
Hi Karen! I am doing this as we speak. I presented and conducted trainings for staff yesterday and invited them all in. Everyone else comes in on June 1st. What grade levels do you serve? Ning is only available for students 13 and up. I would love to share ideas, tutorials, and give feedback in the coming weeks. Leave me a message on my page and I'll get you contact info. :)
We haven't done this, but I know Michigan City schools in Indiana have set up a facebook-type page for their elementary students. You might want to check with them.

Kevin McGuire has done a lot of outstanding work there, so you might want to try to contact him. kmcguire@mcas.k12.in.us
As I mentioned in a response to another discussion thread, I have had experience creating a Ning network for my school. It's open to ALL staff, parents, and community partners, but not to students.* The successes are that there is representation from all three groups, and the forum has been used to post announcements and to store relevant files and links that have proved to be useful. The challenge is to encourage members to be active participants-the vast majority of members are lurkers at this point.

*In the past, when I was the Chairperson of the Site-based Management Team, I used an informal list serv to send information/resources to student respresentatives.
Same here. Parents, staff, teachers, but no students at this time. How many members are you facilitating? Perhaps we can share ideas for encouraging more active participation for our members.
Hello Karren my name is Jonathan, I have set up a site called mywdot.com. I am hoping that it will become the facebook for creative people. One advantage of mywdot.com is that I can create mini networks for schools and societies to display the work of their students. Therefore in effect giving the school their own creative network. There are currently less facilities than a ning network, however if you have creative students, i think mywdot.com offers a nicer platform for your students to display their work.
I have created a sample school network with 4 sample students at:
mywdot.com/network/yourschoolcollegeuniversity
mywdot is completely free for you and your instituion. If this is of interest to you i would be happy to set you up a network to test out for your school.
Hi Karen,
I started a Ning at the beginning of this school year for our staff, so we have had a year to work. I thought this was going to be a great work saver for our teachers, and give them a place to communicate without walking up and down the hall to talk to colleagues. It turns out they would rather walk! we have a few who are regulars and use it, others who log in occasionally, and some who won't touch it. I have posted different activities, lessons, ideas, photos, videos, blogs, etc. It just has not turned into the resource that I envision.
I do think that Ning's are great tools and worthwhile, I AM NOT GIVING UP!! I like the idea posted about putting professional development assignments on the Ning to make sure that they at least log in.
We have a small school with teachers in close proximity, so that may be part of our issue. good luck with your Ning, I hope it works out well.
WE have started a Ning at Chatham University / this is for the students that have graduated in education and no long have contact through the University portal - this allow us to keep in touch
- providing ongoing employment information
- keep track of employment of recent graduates
- share ideas and photos online to keep up a feeling of family with those that have left the program but have insights to offer others

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