On Ning and things for educational resource development

In my current role at The Fred Hollows Foundation I am working with my community education co-ordinator to put together a teacher reference group to provide input and comment on development education materials aimed at school students.

I am exploring Ning at the moment to get a better understanding of its capabilities as a potential tool for use in establishing this educational reference group. One of the benefits of Ning is the ability to have an invitation-only member forum in which to communicate and discuss various educational issues with a reference group who may not otherwise meet together in person.

I’d be interested in hearing about any experiences with Ning, or other systems, that have been used to develop educational initiatives and teaching materials in a professional reference group setting. I would be especially interested in experiences from the international development and NGO educational areas.

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3 responses to “On Ning and things for educational resource development

  1. Hi Brad,
    I’ve been using NING with a group of 15 teachers at Rotterdam University throughout 2007.
    Short version of our experiences:
    – works very well for interaction, discussion and inspiring eachother
    – not suited for ‘library’ of documents (so when you start building documents/resources etc. you don’t really have a place to present them other than in the midst of ongoing conversation)
    – some teachers found ‘being visible’ problematic, and were reluctant to put up an avatar
    – most teachers came to the platform with a ‘hierarchical list’ metaphor of how a platform should work (ordered lists, hierarchical navigation), as most of the software they use has that underlying metaphor. Where NING has more of ‘market’ metaphor with interesting things offered at every corner. This was a shift in attitude and mental model for the teachers. Basically the shift from ‘office software’ to ‘social media’. They had difficulty with the fact that NING did not prescribe ‘right’ behaviour, but leaves that to the group using NING to decide and negotiate between themselves.

    Hope this is of some use. Happy to talk further on e-mail/voice.

  2. Ton,

    Thanks for your comments – interesting observation about perceptions of office software and social media.

    I’ll be in touch.

    Regards,
    Brad

  3. Brad,

    Not being used for education but there’s an interesting group using Ning relatively successfully at http://spmconsortium.ning.com. This community was launched about 6 months ago and they’ve managed to build in and take advantage of a lot of Ning’s tools. The focus is on social performance in microfinance so, again, very different application but if you’re looking for some good sites that are working in the area of int’l development using Ning, definitely worth checking out. Katherine, the woman that runs it would likely be a good contact as well.

    Good luck,
    Christian

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