Thursday, March 12, 2009

CLAS, Ning, and my next installment

Yeesh... where has the time actually gone? CSAP time already (but I'll reserve comment on that topic; heh). For those who read my first two installments of Education in the 21st Century on Elephant Journal, the third part is up and posted.

Last weekend I did a presentation at the spring conference of the Colorado Language Arts Society (CLAS) on technology in the classroom. I have to admit that before I started, I was a bundle of nerves and was pretty much looking for any excuse to not do it. It's funny: I can stand up in front of 25-30 students all day long, but when it comes to standing up in front of a dozen adults, I'll take a pass whenever I can. Fortunately, it ended up going really well. I hit on Google docs, Google sites, Blogger, podcasting, live blogging, videos, etc. As it turned out, a lot of it was really new to many of the people in the room, even though I thought it would be "old hat" to them. I ended up running out of time, and I really enjoyed myself once it was all said and done.

My newest "toy" in the classroom is Ning. Doug A. and I are collaborating on a project involving Plan B 3.0; yesterday I hit up Jeff L. to see if he wanted to join us (you're next, Liz!). Actually, as far as that goes, if anyone is interested, I know I'd be up for it... could prove to be very interesting. At any rate, I want my students to not only collaborate within the class, but between the classes as well. To that end, I set up a class Ning page for the kids. Will it work? Well, we'll see I guess, but I do think there's some very interesting potential to become something pretty amazing.


I've been doing some digging around on Ning and after a few trial and errors, I have a few tips/suggestions:

First, I found that even though I told the students it was in essence an online classroom and needed to make sure their profiles reflected that, I still had a few students post pictures and choose names that weren't school appropriate. I am still working with those more recalcitrant students around that issue. Ning does give a privacy option when it comes to who can see and join the page. So far I haven't worried about who's joining it, especially since there is an option to ban members, though I can change that to approving members that try to join if I need to.

Ning does give the option to approve just about anything that could be posted to the page: videos, photos, blog posts, etc. I engaged it after a few students were adding pictures of themselves to the main page.

The students have really bought into it so far, but all we've done is set up profiles. They haven't quite realized how I plan to use this for networking, posting assignments, etc. I have a feeling that they may become slightly horrified when they realize that their "MySpace for my class" is going to be used against them... ha ha!


Joseph Miller said...

Hey Todd,

Cool site. I think the students are going to love this.


Liz Springer said...


I plan to do something similar with my 8th grade students. I want them to create some kind of personal philosophy statement with pictures, videos, songs, quotes, etc that they feel reflect who they are, but also have the option to blog and comment on each other's profiles, etc, as well. At first I was going to use a class wiki with each student having their own page, but I think I like the Ning idea even better. Do you think this would be feasible? I'm going to get it started very soon. I'd love you to critique it and give us some pointers. Thanks for the idea!!


Stevi said...

Hey, Todd, one teacher I know went to your session at CLAS and said it was her favorite session of the entire conference! Congratulations!

Joseph Miller said...


Maybe you should load the slides from your preso to slideshare and share her at the Global Learner blog. We are all interested to see what it was all about!


Todd said...

Thanks, Stevi! It's always good to get feeback. :)

Good idea, Joe... I'll do that today!