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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Ning: A Social Network for Adults

Chris O'Neal

Educational consultant and former Edutopia.org blogger

Have you checked out Ning, a new social-networking Web 2.0 site? Ning, primarily geared toward adults, is more a place to create social networks rather than a social network in itself. Lots of social-networking groups are being built at Ning, which describes itself as "the only online service where you can create, customize, and share your own social network for free in seconds."

I'm still playing around on the site. I have lots of "friends" there, as well as some legitimate friends I actually know. I visit frequently, read the discussions, post when I think I have something worthwhile to add, and so on. I haven't yet created my own network on Ning, though, primarily because I think my social-networking needs are met with the groups already there. Plus, there's that whole time thing.

I'm a member of two Ning groups: Library 2.0 and Classroom 2.0. Our hope for the Library 2.0 group is that it can take advantage of groups, discussion forums, chats, blogs, resource sharing, and so on, all geared toward tools and resources for the modern library.

The Classroom 2.0 group is not unlike the other one, although it focuses more on general classroom use of Web 2.0 tools and resources, and lots of discussions are taking place there, too. Classroom 2.0 describes itself as "the social-networking site devoted to those interested in the practical application of computer technology [especially Web 2.0] in the classroom and in their own professional development.

Especially, we hope that those who feel they are 'beginners' will find this a comfortable place to start being a part of the community dialog and to learn more." It's a very friendly place, with lots of resources, links to teach you what Web 2.0 is all about, and classroom examples of Web 2.0 applications in use.

Go check the groups out, and find me there. Do you think this kind of online community holds real value for adult learners? Do you see a place for it in your own environment? Is this the MySpace for adult learners? Share your thoughts.

Chris O'Neal

Educational consultant and former Edutopia.org blogger
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