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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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Comments (11)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Bea Cantor's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Hi Chris!

You owe me an iPod...
No, seriously.

I think there is a lot of value to social networking for professional development. I myself have never met anyone new at one of those sites. However, I have taken serious risks by interacting with total strangers in more open environments. I have learned a lot from these strangers and, in the end, made new friends and learned a lot from them.

With a site like Ning teachers get a double benefit. First, we get to see what so many students do with their time in less serious sites like Facebook, Friendster, and MySpace. And, of course, we get to share ideas and resources with like-minded people.

What I see as a problem is that there are so many of these sites. While Ning is more "adult", it is not the only one catering to professional groups. If you invite me to Ning, but a fellow teacher invites me to a similar site, do I join both? And if so, where do I spend my time? I spend so much time with my laptop without joining any more sites that I'm thinking of having it surgically attached to my hip.

Add to that the pressure to visit with friends in Second Life, and I'll run out of time for living my real life.

Bonnie Bracey-Sutton's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

After taking courses on all of the social networks, Facebook, My space, Second life, and so on...Ning got my attention and my input. I wrote about it, but then got ten invitations to join various Ning groups. I don't know if this is good or bad.

I do know that important people liked the ease of Ning.

I am a Wiki victim. There are so many of them and some of them are so complicated that it makes my head spin to access and then go through all of the information. There are some that are easy to use and therefore
wonderful to catch up on..Unfortunately, that is not the case for all Wiki
site. Since I technically belong to about 35 of then, you can see the trouble.

I like Ning for the simplicity of it and the ease of use.

Brother Ali's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I am currently impressed with Ning.

I am a student at SCI Texas and am enrolled in a great, concise six month medical assistant training program. I have no qualms about it besides not having time to connect with my classmates who all have busy lives.

Ning was an efficient solution to have fun and connect with them after hours and my whole class uses it! It's great.

Sharon Collins's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

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brian's picture

There are so many of them and some of them are so complicated that it makes my head spin to access and then go through all of the information. There are some that are easy to use and therefore.
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arnlod kiyosaki's picture

We are in the process of building a how to database all about mortgage lenders, mortgage loans and really everything that has to do with a mortgage and a school, after I finish it I will probably have to join all the social network websites to share this valuable information.

Richard Stech's picture

Buena informacion, no sabia de la existencia de la red social Ning. Saludos de Commercial Loans

jaster - 4982's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

It is a great collaboration between higher education, businesses, and nonprofit organizations. What are some examples of similar collaborations in your communit.
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