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Literacy- Ning

Page history last edited by Mandy Huizar 9 years ago


What is Ning?  Ning technology allows teachers to create and design their own social networking site.  The site offers a 30 day free trial, but getting a membership may be more practical for long term use.  There are three types of Ning memberships: mini, premium, and pro.  For a classroom setting the mini membership is most cost effective.  This type of membership allows up to 150 members to join the created site and costs only $19.95 per year or $2.95 per month.  Educators can request the cost of membership be covered by a Pearson company sponsorship.  All that teachers need to do is fill out a simple request form after registering for their free 30 day trial.  Please click here to be directed to the Ning website.



How does Ning work?  Teachers will first need to create a free trial account and then apply for the Pearson sponsorship.  After the account is created, teachers can set their network name and password before moving on to select the design layout of their page.  Once a teacher creates a Ning account their students can being creating profiles and joining the teacher created site.  Ning is set up to resemble popular social networking sites such as Facebook or Myspace and users can determine their own page design.  Since Ning sites resemble other social networking sites it would be a great opportunity for teachers to discuss the importance of online safety.  Teachers can use this technology to have students practice their reading, writing, and typing skills.  The free version of Ning does not include the chat feature, but it does allow students to use the blog feature.  Teachers can post questions and students can respond to the initial question or respond to their peer’s comments.  Please see the "video turorial" link in the resources section below for additional information.


What ages is this technology appropriate for? As an early childhood major I felt this technology could be used with kids as young as 3rd grade, but parent involvement at this age would be needed.  Ning requires users to verify that they are at least 13 years or older so if students in late elementary school were to use the site they would need to log in with the assistance and permission of their parents. This provides parents an ideal opportunity to work with their children on setting boundaries for internet use at home.  After researching the tool I feel that it would be most effective in a middle school or high school classroom.  Older students will be more familiar with the technology layout and more time can be spent focusing on content.  Younger children will need more time learning how to navigate the site before teachers can use the tool to focus on content information.


How can teachers use Ning in the classroom?  The way Ning is used in the classroom will depend somewhat on the age of the students.  For young students in elementary school this tool can be used as a way to let students explore social networking in a safe and controlled environment.  It can also be a great way to introduce students to the blog which will give them a place to practice reading writing a typing skills.  The tool could be used for: an option during center time, a way to practice writing emails/typing by using the blog function, and a way to document results from a science experiment so that the whole class can see what other students are doing.  For older students the tool can be used to keep assignments fun and interesting.  Using a social networking site and the blog feature is a great way to keep students involved in discussions.  Having students post comments in a blog encourages them to put more effort into their posts since their writing is visible to others in the class.  The tool can be used for all content areas and most age groups.  Teachers can modify the tool to fit the needs of their students and set expectations based on the students prior knowledge and skill levels.





Resources for using Ning in the classroom:

Many schools block social networking sites on their computers so allowing students to use a tool like Ning will require some guidelines.  This link shows one school’s policy for student use of Ning.  Teachers could use ideas from this to create contracts with students to hold them accountable for their actions on the classroom site.  Contract sample. 


The following link will take you to a discussion board where various educators are posting questions, comments, and concerns about using Ning in the classroom.  There are great suggestions and helpful ideas for overcoming challenges teachers may face when using this tool. Discussion Board.



This link takes you to a teacher’s blog.  This particular article described how helpful the teacher found Ning in their Spanish class. Ning blog.


This video documents one teacher’s positive experience using Ning in his classroom. Video Clip. 


This is a great video showing how a student would see the classroom Ning site.  The teacher giving the presentation also explains how he uses the technology for homework assignments. (The chat feature mentioned at the end of the clip is not available on the Ning mini.) Video tutorial.


This is more of a research based write up of how Ning affected student performance over the course of one semester.  Although the data is based on a college level class I feel that the findings are significant in showing the value of using this technology. Research findings.


This article provides valuable tips for introducing Ning into the classroom.  There are suggestions on how to establish grading criteria and how to make students feel more involved with the tool from the beginning of the school year. Introducing Ning.  

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