What is Ning?

Ning is a private social network that individuals can run, moderate and maintain as they see fit. Ning offers free service currently, but begin charging for its services from March this year (although the basic package of $19.95 for a year is not exhorbitant).

Ning is very similar to Facebook in that it offers each member their own page where they can display photos, videos, keep a blog and maintain a comment wall. These networks can be password protected, which is a great benefit to teachers who want to moderate the members of their online community.

Ning networks are generally established around a topic, a school project, an interest group or a classroom group. Students can access the Ning site from any computer and can comment on the ‘walls’ of other members.

This requires much moderation by the teacher, who must ensure that the personal pages of their students are reviewed at regular intervals. The site, however, does offer the administrator the facility to remove elements from the site that can help with moderation, for example removing photos and videos and the chat facility can help students focus on the tasks at hand.

However, the chat facility is useful for developing social skills in students and for encouraging appropriate interactions (Research confirms this need for social interaction and 'off-topic' chatter in order for OSNs to be effective learning tools). Some teachers enable the chat feature during week days but disable it during the weekend and over school holidays.

Ning is a great introduction to the world of social networking and is a great way for students to learn about the open nature of an online social network – everyone can see everyone else’s information!

(Information from personal research, trial and investigation in a primary school classroom)

For more information on the use of Ning networks in education, visit the links below:

Ning in Education Group

Getting Started with Ning

The Power of Social Networks - NBC Video