Sue Waters Blog

Getting The Ning Thing? Got It? Or Over It?

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displayYesterday’s post Ninging? Blogging? How Do We Best Support Needs Of Educators When Doing Professional Development? added more thoughts and voices to blogging vs ning. Thanks everyone for your comments — I suggest you check out their feedback. And once again I would like to thank both Graham and Clay for inspiring this conversation! And I have decided to follow up this post with reflecting on reasons why we are getting, got it or are over Ning as a result of comments by my readers yesterday!

Never Got The Ning Thing?

Well I don’t know about everyone else but I am one of those people that can take a long time “to get” the benefit of a Web 2.0 tool — I really have to see the “what’s in it for me” to be engaged enough to want to use.

Here are examples of tools and how long it has taken me from being introduced to a tool and then actually start using them effectively:

  • Twitter- 2 months
  • Podcasting – 3 months
  • Wiki – 5 months
  • Ning – 5 months
  • Delicious – 7 months
  • FlickR – 8 months
  • Blogging – 12 months

Now considering most see me as innovative and a prolific user of Web 2.0 technologies — I think how long it taken someone like me to adopt new tools should be considered when introducing these tools to educators who have never been exposed to any of them!

If we look at the whole Ning thing — why did it take me so long “to get it?” Well considering I understood RSS I was not seeing the forest for the trees — I was not subscribing to the feeds from the Ning Forum, Blogs or Latest Activity. This meant there was no way I could effectively manage the information that was being generated by these sites nor was I able to effectively respond to discussions because I was totally unaware that these discussions were taking place.

Whatever online resources and tools we develop our first rule should always be to make it very clear how to:

  • participate
  • use
  • navigate

This is equally important to the experienced and inexperienced — we should not assume what is required is obvious!

What is required should be in your face! So there is no missing the obvious!

So I only “Got It” with Ning when Michele Martin set up Better Blog Community because she modeled how to participate in very simple and obvious terms which I adapted when I set up etools and tips for educators community. She continues to mentor me on how to facilitate these communities which I am grateful for and Simon Brown models for me how to use with students. I also spent considerable time checking out what was working/not working with other Ning communities — check out Steve Hargadon’s communities for good ideas on setting up Ning.

Got the Ning Thing?

My thoughts are those that have got the “Ning Thing” are probably managing the feeds from the sites using Feed Readers like Google Reader, Bloglines or dare I say it NetVibes (ROFL).

Or alternatively realise the benefit of this community such as:

  • Ease of use for the less tech savy
  • Ability to easy manage discussions, embed videos and create blog posts

Over It

What can I say–well there would be a number of reasons. And would love to hear those from my readers. One reason why I was Over Ning initially was I never got it to begin with. However I can understand the feeling of too much Ning because I belong to 7 Ning communities but am only managing 3 of them effectively (on my to-do-list to rectify this with the other communities. And I can totally relate to the whole time issue!

And as Web 2.0 savy people like Patrick point out “being connected to a network that you create based on your needs and passions is far greater than one that is created for you”

Final Thoughts

Well ultimately, at the end of the day, it is not about us techy savy ones but the individuals that we are trying to get started on their journey. So I would really love Graham to convert the comment on my post to be created into your own post, with pictures, because you have, as always, explained it so well especially your closing sentence “We just don’t want educators sitting on their hands in their classrooms saying, “Everything I and my students need for learning is in this room. No need to go anywhere.”

Doh moment! Really think that I have done a disservice to lecturers in my own organisation. I have been using wikis but now realise that a Ning community, based on what I have gained from etools and tips for educators community, would better service their needs in terms of empowering their learning outside of professional development sessions!

Author: Sue Waters

Edublogs Support Manager @suewaters on Twitter

5 Comments

  1. nice work muddy – spot on. you have to ‘get’ it first. I had a Ning account for about 8 months and only started using it with Michele and the better blogs, and now the eTips with u. Have created one at work with a really strange twist and they think i am cutting edge and innovative – what a laugh [4 years ago when i wanted Elluminate here i was RADICAL] go figure. Will post about my ‘Ning Thing’ as my boss calls it when its more fleshed out. But yes – whats in it for me and how do i use it? thats the key

  2. Sue,

    The Ning thing had me confused and frustrated until I came across Better Blogging too. Michele has done a great job leading the community and is now inspiring a group of leaders to step up into an active Ning Group.

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  4. Sue,
    I belonged to a few Ning communities and didn’t get it either. Some had nothing going on, others I never felt a part.

    Better Blog Community works because it is actively facilitated. Michele is constantly monitoring and feeding the conversation. She has a committed core group behind her, and we intentionally go in and make sure people are responded to, welcomed, and talked with if they want it. Yes, it is an online tool, but it is offline facilitation skills that make it effective. You do the same with eTools.

    You adoption comment is right on. It takes me a while also, and I love technology.

  5. Sue
    Looking forward to reading your post on Ning. Glad that Michele inspired me to use Ning and I then inspired you.

    Mike
    It has been great that Michele is modeling how to use Ning and continues to inspire us.

    Christine
    Facilitating online communities is not easy–Michele is an amazing person. I sit back and watch her in awe. We need to keep remembering this adoption time when we use with students or others.

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