Creating a social network for a classroom could be a great way to open new doors of communication while also reinforcing the tenets of positive digital citizenship. Kids are used to the format, so a network like this could potentially be very useful, as long as kids are kept on track; undoubtedly, this will involve some teacher moderation.
Assignments could include blog posts, with a graded component for writing comments. Alternately, students could contribute photos for science or humanities-based curricula. As not all kids have the same access at home, you may want to devote some class time to keeping the network active.Continue reading Show less
Ning is a website that allows anyone to create and grow a personalized social network. Users sign up with an email, password, and enter a credit card number for a 2-week free trial (various packages can be purchased at the end of the trial). All networks are given a name, which becomes part of a custom URL.
Teachers may find that Ning gives them lots of freedom while still keeping the platform simple. It's very easy to make a Ning site look snazzy, which could be a way to help engage students. While likely not an undertaking for for every teacher, with some work and organization, a Ning network would be an interesting experiment in creating social networks for your classes. With the option to create groups and subgroups within a network, there's an opportunity for some solid communication between everyone in your classroom community.
However, you'll want to be sure to talk to your students (and their parents) about appropriate online behavior and positive digital citizenship; keep a close eye on all student-posted information. With some help, kids can learn how to communicate their ideas online, and get involved in healthy debates on classroom subjects. It can also be a great way for students to pose questions, either for you or the rest of the class.