Posts Tagged ‘Ning’

The following list was primarily derived from EDUCAUSE.  They produce a monthly publication that seeks to identify, compile, and review new technologies that show promise in education.  Below, I describe the emerging technologies that began to gain prominence in 2008.

  • Lulu.  Lulu provides tools to publish, print, and design original content.  Educators and students have the ability to publish content (e.g., reports, books, or posters) with nominal expense (EDUCAUSE, 2008a).
  • Flickr.  Anyone can upload, view, mark, or tag pictures on this photo-sharing website.  Flickr embodies many elements of Web 2.0 applications and relies on user content to promote community among consumers.  Users have the ability to provide a setting for developing relationships or shared events, and in order to help enhance relationships, groups can be formed (EDUCAUSE, 2008b).
  • Google apps.  This online suite of file storage and web-based programs operates within a web browser.  In Google Apps, individuals can share content by granting someone permission to view that content.  The ability to easily share content promotes peer review of material and collaboration.  The programs featured on Google Apps include productivity tools (e.g., word processor or spreadsheet), communication tools, (e.g., calendar or Google Talk) and web development tools (EDUCAUSE, 2008c).
  • Ning.  This online social networking application allows consumers to generate their own network or take part in another individual’s network.  Each creator is given the opportunity to completely personalize the functionality and appearance of the SNS.  This technology is similar to Facebook with the exception that users can create their own closed network.  Ning provides a neutral setting where teachers can harness the power of social networks, such as the promotion of a strong sense of community among a cohort of students (EDUCAUSE, 2008d).
  • Multi-touch interfaces.  These input devices distinguish various touches on the surface of the screen such as pinches, rotations, swipes, and other actions that facilitate instantaneous interface with digital content.  Multi-touch interfaces also allow several users to simultaneously collaborate with digital content (EDUCAUSE, 2008e).
  • Second Life.  Second Life is a modern day virtual world hosting over 13 million “residents,” a flourishing economy and a great deal of virtual land.  Consumers can create or alter virtual space with ease, and this scenario has encouraged experiments in creating space designs.  For example, Second Life often hosts virtual field trips or serves as a platform to display student media.  There are a number of social dynamics that promote teamwork and self-directed learning (EDUCAUSE, 2008f).
  • Wii.  This gaming console allows participants to interact with the game applications through physical gestures and movement.  Academic researchers have employed this technology to create applications such as an interactive whiteboard or collaborative choreography tools.  Researchers can use Wii and similar gaming consoles to test how active learning exercises can improve the performance of students with various learning styles.  Wii can stimulate physical activity (EDUCAUSE, 2008g).
  • Geolocation.  This application links digital content with a physical location.  Geolocation is also called geotagging.  A common use of geolocation is the association between a picture and its geographic location.  Geolocation can help to coordinate resources and information, which can add a new layer of understanding to research (EDUCAUSE, 2008h).
  • Zotero.  This online research tool offers automated bibliographic resources to users.  Zotero runs in the browser, so the citation process becomes seemless and easy.  All the bibliographic information of a Web page is stored in the consumer’s library of sources (EDUCAUSE, 2008i).
  • Ustream.  Users of Ustream can broadcast a personalized channel on this interactive Web streaming platform.  Consumers can promote their own shows, have conversations and host events on this platform.  Educators can employ the free streaming video and initiate a variety of authentic assessments using this tool (EDUCAUSE, 2008j).
  • Flip camcorders.  Flip video camcorders allow consumers to shoot, capture, and produce video content with this petite, economical, and user-friendly device.  For faculty members, these devices present new opportunities for authentic assessment and foster visual learning.  Because this process is user-friendly and inexpensive, teachers and students might find it palatable to produce video content that can enhance learning (EDUCAUSE, 2008k).
  • Lecture capture.  This technology enables teachers to record classroom activities and lectures and then make them accessible for students in a digital format.  Educators can limit lecture capture to audio, but video recordings that feature the lecturer, an electronic whiteboard, or screen capture are gaining in popularity.  Lecture capture further expands on screencasting (EDUCAUSE, 2008l).

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008a, January). 7 things you should know about Lulu. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7033.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008b, February). 7 things you should know about Flickr. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7034.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008c, March). 7 things you should know about Google Apps. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7035.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008d, April). 7 things you should know about Ning. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7036.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008e, May). 7 things you should know about Multi-touch interfaces. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7037.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008f, June). 7 things you should know about Second Life. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7038.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008g, July). 7 things you should know about Wii. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7039.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008h, August). 7 things you should know about Geolocation. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7040.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008i, September). 7 things you should know about Zotero. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7041.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008j, October). 7 things you should know about Ustream. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7042.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008k, November). 7 things you should know about Flip Camcorders. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7043.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008l, December). 7 things you should know about lecture capture. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7044.pdf

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Among the many social networking sites (SNS) that have emerged in recent years, Ning stands out as a unique and useful tool for educators. Ning is a Web 2.0 tool that allows users to create their own social network. Although the company has only existed for five years (i.e., 2005), Ning has proven to be a powerful, attractive and free tool for SNS enthusiasts.

One of the most appealing features of Ning allows users to produce an original social network that focuses on a particular topic. In addition, creators can customize the features, widgets and design of this SNS. The user-friendly interface and easy setup is perhaps the greatest component of this creative opportunity.

As mentioned earlier, Ning is a free application, but the tradeoff for this free access is a series of adds posted on each page of the SNS. However, these ads are not intrusive and quickly fade away as one focuses on the content of the page. If a user desires to eliminate ads, then Ning offers ad-free SNS for a fee.

I enjoyed creating a Ning website for this assignment. The variety of tools offered within Ning allowed for a great deal of imagination on each page. I chose to construct a SNS for a Music Appreciation class that will be taught in the coming school year. Ning served as an ideal platform to host the variety of media that I wanted to incorporate in this class. For example, the top portion of the home page for my Ning site is illustrated below. The home page contains a graphic representation of each member, welcome, audio player, video links, chat area, course content links, announcement board, discussion forum, picture widget and group area. In addition to the home page, I created 11 additional pages that can be accessed by the navigational tab menu at the top of each page. These tabs range from personal information on each student to a link to my personal blog.

Ning Example SNS

The possibilities of Ning seem limitless in an educational settings. Promoting community, enhancing classes and teaching classes are examples of this potential. I do have to admit that I was surprised and saddened to discover that Ning would no longer be a free service as of May 2010. Certainly, there are similar tools on the Internet that can accomplish what Ning does, but Ning seems to be the leading competitor at this time. However, I will find a new, free service rather than paying to prolong activity in Ning. I believe that Ning will lose many customers because of this decision, and I think Ning underestimates the free market and open source options.

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