Ninging? Blogging? How Do We Best Support Needs Of Educators When Doing Professional Development?

Ninging? Blogging? How Do We Best Support Needs Of Educators When Doing Professional Development?

communityWhat can I say? Whatever plans I had for last night were distracted by Graham’s BYO networks post. Why? Because he reflected on Ning communities vs blogging and highlighted that while Ning is a good starting point for new educators he worries that people may limit their online learning by staying within these Ning communities and failing to realise that building your own network from blogs, wikis etc provides greater potential for learning. [image by circulating]

Why the distraction?

Now at this stage you are may be pondering why Graham’s post would lead so much distraction. Well his section on Ning started with Clay Burell’s thoughts on “Is Ninging the same thing as Blogging – and other questions about 21st c staff development“. The distraction? Clay and I debated Ning while Graham sat back, probably chuckling, and went to bed (check out comments on Graham’s and Clay’s posts — plus follow up post by Clay)!

Without writing a really long post Clay is reflecting on how to run workshops for teachers. His “goals are to make them not need to learn from me, but to get out there and find their own pathways” and encourage their creativity. (You really need to check out comments on Graham’s and Clay’s posts — plus follow up post by Clay because it is not possible to summarise all the thoughts and ideas)!

My Ning Passion!

Well lets just say that I am a bit passionate about Ning at the moment! As Michele says, Ning is my shiny new Web 2.0 tool. Etools and tips for Educators at Ning was set up for my 1 hr online presentation on Video in Elearning for various reasons including:

  • Ning’s designed to appeal to users who want to create networks around specific interests or have limited technical skills
  • So members could interact with me before and after my presentation— and to ensure that their learning was much more than just an hour online session
  • So experienced members can share their tips
  • To demonstrate how an online community’s knowledge gain is greater than a person working individually. Collectively a community will always help each other more effectively than I will ever hope to achieve
  • To showcase why communities are important for personal learning

I love Clay’s analogy to a driving instructor because that is exactly what I tell participants in my f2f workshops. My challenge is most of my participants are starting their first driving lesson with their parents and need me ready to grab the steering wheel. Overwhelm them too much and they will crash into the tree.

Outcomes from using Ning

It has been almost 1 week since my Video in Elearning online session and benefit gained from using the Etools and tips for Educators Ning community include:

  • Members new to participating in the online world report the community makes them feel
  • Several have been inspired to go on and achieve personal first’s like blogging, embedding videos, replying to discussions and creating their own videos using Ning
  • Their questions and responses have given me a far greater understanding of who they are and their needs; far more even than my f2f workshops
  • Collectively we have all gained more than working as individuals

There is no way I would have achieved these outcomes if I only interacted with the participants on my blog or if I had played it safe, stuck with just a 1 hr session, and not gone out on a limb to use Ning for embedding video during a live session.

Final Thoughts

I think that Brian C. Smith’s advice for getting others to buy into elearning is good advice. Check out this video of an interview he did with me! This grasshopper needs to remember this Master’s advice more often.

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10 thoughts on “Ninging? Blogging? How Do We Best Support Needs Of Educators When Doing Professional Development?

  1. Great post Sue,

    I never kind of “got” ning… but now that I’ve had holidays and had a bit more free time, I’ve had more time to spend on it.

    I guess the problem was before that I belonged to so many nings and it was always hard to keep up with them all.

  2. Grasshopper? Master? Am confused. LOL Good thoughts on Ning for specific interests and those with limited skills. I’m still not sure that every educator has to blog, I do think they need a network of some sort, be it online or existing locally. The strength of the connections is what is important in the network. If Ning meets the need, so be it. If one should find the need for a blog, so be it. I’ve gotten away from Ning as of late… time to check back in! Thanks Sue!

  3. Sue,
    Great food for thought. I have just been asked to join an advisory committee to which will be working to develop ways to involve technology integrators who are lone riders in their craft. To workshop, Ning, wiki, blog, twitter- that is the question. Your reflection on your Ning successes offers great insight into the comfort, community, and power Ning has for ‘first time drivers’. Nothing like a little bit of success to breed more success. In addition, your view of Ning’s success from the presenter side also helps to flesh out its potential to help us better know our students/educators to better support them. Thanks!

  4. Sue,

    In a slightly misshapen nutshell, you describe my feeling about Ning very well; it’s a wonderful place for people who are new to collaborative technology to begin working with a large group of other like-minded individuals. However, as we are finding out on a near daily basis, being connected to a network that you create based on your needs and passions is far greater than one that is created for you.

  5. And I had a great sleep, thanks for asking. After checking out a movie with the kids (yet another wonderful animated feature that I know you’d just love!!) I booted up my PageFlakes to see that my blog had been a-flurry with comments throughout the night. Not just that but from people in adjoining timezones to boot! Look, I made this point in a response comment but it has been made very well here by Brian that it is the networking that matters. Without flogging this motor transport metaphor to death, the choice of vehicle depends very much on the user – I might only want to have a family sedan but it can still get me to fantastic places, or if folks want an organised bus safari, well that’s fine as well. The four wheel drive enthusiasts will say that others don’t know what they’re missing – getting off the beaten track, quiet reflection, setting up camp and cooking your own tucker, being resourceful when it comes to hygiene. The bus tour participants will say that it’s excellent that someone else is doing the driving, they chose the itinerary that suits their needs and you can enjoy great conversations with others who chose the same trip or just enjoy the scenery. 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.”

    Metaphorically speaking, of course.

  6. You are correct about Ning. Although there are many sites today allowing you to share content and build your own community such as

    HooQs enables you to enjoy your favorite videos and music straight from your mobile phone or wireless device – without any installation or hassle.

    You can build your own channels from various media sources and HooQs delivers them straight to your mobile phone, and creates a personal mobile portal that is tailored just for you!

  7. Really great points, Sue, and it’s making me think it’s time for me to do a little more reflection on Ning vs. blogging and the whole idea of networks and community. I see both sides of this, but particularly see your point that Ning can be a sort of “gateway” into the whole concept of online community and blogging that may feel less overwhelming to a lot of people. The other advantage of Ning is that as the creator, if you’re doing your job well (as you do), then you can use your role to facilitate conversations and help people manage the flow of information. For a lot of newbies, this is a huge service for you to perform.

    Thanks for getting me thinking more about this.

  8. Rachel
    Me too — just remember take the feeds for the Forum and blog posts from each Ning site– put them through your feed reader (Google Reader I hope). Now you are cooking with Ning!

    You know Kung Fu movie — you are the Master and I am the grasshopper who does not always do as told — or the young Jedi knight! What we should be saying to our educators is use whatever tools works for you — blogs or podcasts or video — and gain from using it for your personal learning.

    Please let me know how you go with Ning? And if you end up using it.

    I totally agree with you! Definitely the networks that I have created myself are more powerful for me but for a new person starting out Ning is very welcoming.

    As I said before would love to see your comment turned into a blog post! Glad you had a great sleep and thanks for helping Clay , Patrick and myself connect better! That has been the best part of this whole conversation!

    Thanks for telling me about your site.

    You make me watch you in awe — you are such a fantastic role model and I have gained so much by working with you. Thanks for the opportunity!

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